Thursday 11 February 2010

The Shunka Warak’in story

The Shunka Warak’in is a canine like creature, often described as being like a wolf or hyena, said to have been sighted in Montana, Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa. The Indigenous people in the area named the creature Shunka Warak’in. I believe it translates in to something like “the carrier off of dogs” because they said it would attack and carry off dogs from their encampments.

The first recorded encounter with the Shunka Warak’in by white settlers was in the 1880’s when members of the Hutchins family moved to the Madison River Valley in Montana. The Hutchins claimed they encountered a wolf like animal which they later managed to kill when it attacked their dogs It was shot in 1886 by Israel Ammon Hutchins on what is now the Sun Ranch in Montana. The hide was apparently stuffed and put on display at a local store.

In 1926 the text "Ethnology of the Ioway Indians" by Skinner also contained the story (p. 211-212), He stated the information had come from Chief David Tohee and Joseph Springer .

One time the people began to miss their dogs. Every morning a few were gone, and no one knew the cause. Some thought it the work of an enemy, so the young men got up a war party and hid themselves so as to surprise and kill the nightly visitor. It turned out to be a strange animal, different from anything they had ever seen before. They named it "Carrying-off-dogs," but it is very like the animal the white people keep in their shows today and call hyena. When it entered the camp, the young warriors attacked it just as if it was a person. Again and again they shot at this creature, and could not kill it, but after following it a day and a half they at last succeeded in putting it to death. When it died, it cried just like a human being. When they heard this, and thought of the hard time they had in killing it, they decided that it must be a creature of great power. So they skinned it, and painted its hide, and later placed the hide in with the other powerful objects in the war bundle, to wear in battle across the shoulder to turn away flying bullets and arrows. But before the hide was put in the bundle, a big dance was held. Immediately afterward a party set out and were very successful, as they killed a number of enemies, returning with many scalps.(SKinner 1926: 211-212).

IN the early 1990’s cryptozoologist Mark A. Hall was told of a creature or group of creatures resembling the Shunka Warak’in being sighted in Nebraska, Iowa, Alberta and Illinois.

Then in 1995, Lance Foster, an Ioway Indian, told the story of a creature called the Shunka Warak’in, that appeared to be like a hyena to cryptozoologist Loren Coleman.

In 1997 Ross Hutchins wrote the story in his book Trails to Nature’s Mysteries: The Life of a Working Naturalist.

One winter morning my grandfather was aroused by the barking of dogs. He discovered that a wolf like beast of dark color was chasing my grandmother’s geese. He fired his gun at the animal but missed. It ran off down the river, but several mornings later it was seen again at about dawn. It was seen several more times at the home ranch as well as at other ranches ten or fifteen miles down the valley. Whatever it was, it was a great traveller Those who got a good look at the beast described it as being nearly black and having high shoulders and a back that sloped downward like a hyena. Then one morning in late January, my grandfather was alerted by the dogs, and this time he was able to kill it. Just what the animal was is still an open question. After being killed, it was donated to a man named Sherwood who kept a combination grocery and museum at Henry Lake in Idaho. It was mounted and displayed there for many years. He called it ringdocus.

In December 2005 a wolf like animal was reported to be killing livestock in Montana. IN October 2006 the creature named The Creature of McCone County, had killed more than 120 livestock and been reported in several newspapers. On November 2, 2006 the Montana Wildlife Service shot and killed a creature that they thought may have been responsible for these killings. It appeared to be a wolf but with red striped fur and samples were said to be sent off for testing but I could not find any report of the results.

It has been suggested that the Shunka Warak’in may be a prehistoric mammal ,the Borophagus, an ancient hyena that inhabited North America during the Pleistocene era.

As a fitting ending to this story the stuffed mounted animal from 1886 was found again after 121 years and you can find the story here :

1 comment:

Julie Ferguson said...

What an odd looking and interesting creature.