by Delta Discovery staff
Last week, we published a story of a Hairy Man being seen in Kasigluk last spring. We had been hoping to begin publishing a series of Bigfoot sightings since such sightings in the Y-K Delta seem to be more common than are told. Here in the delta, Hairy Man is the name given to the creature that others call Bigfoot or Sasquatch.
Here in the Bethel area, many people’s introduction to Hairy Man was through the creature we came to know of as “Gabriel Fox” in the 1960s. It’s the story of a young boy who ran away from the Children’s Home near Kwethluk and survived in the wilderness by turning into a Hairy Man. But big questions remain: How could a boy turn into a hairy creature that lived in the extreme wild? Was it really Gabriel Fox, and not a young Bigfoot that was starving and raiding fishcamps for food when it was caught? Why did the military and/or the US government say nothing about him after they took him away? And most importantly, why didn’t they return him home?
One can think a boy cannot survive long in the wilderness on his own, and such transformation from human-to-Hairy Man in such a short time is physiologically impossible. Even adults cannot survive for long without shelter and food in the wilderness, and it’s extremely doubtful their bodies will grow hair all over and replace the clothes they wear in order to survive in the cold. Of the humans that are reported to have become feral, the only hair that grows long is on their heads or faces while other parts of their bodies remain hairless.
So what are these creatures? How do they survive in the wilds of Alaska and elsewhere? Yet, witnesses report seeing them in winter wearing only the hair that covers their entire bodies. Or they see them in water in a time that would be dangerous for humans to be in water. Some say they are adapted to all kinds of weather just like moose and caribou are adapted. But lately, the creature is getting all kinds of attention on TV but mainly the stories are in the lower 48 states. Well, Yup’iks and other Natives in our area have seen or long known about these creatures but had rarely made any fuss about them to the point that no attention is barely made to their existence here.
Some sightings are of the creature itself. Some reports are of the tracks it leaves behind, its glowing eyes, its repugnant smell, the rocks they throw toward people, or the sounds it makes. There are stories from Chevak to Kotlik, and from Kotlik to Pilot Station. Some sightings are also along the Kuskokwim River, from McGrath area to Bethel, and up the Johnson River. But the greatest numbers of sightings are between the mouth of the Yukon River to Pilot Station, and around Tuluksak, a village that is sort of situated all by itself between Akiak and Kalskag.
People report seeing the creature in wide-open spaces and in forested areas. Others see it trying to hide from people, or fleeing from the witnesses. Some witnesses flee the creature instead. Most of the time, witnesses see a harmless or benign creature, but in one instance it appears hostile and charges a hunter, who fires at the monster but misses.
Another points a gun at the creature, but does not fire his weapon. In another story, a man kills a Hairy Man and flees, only to have other Bigfoots harass the killer in the village at night until he leaves the village for good. Another sees the Hairy Man hunting another animal. Others see it while flying in airplanes. Sometimes the sighting is so terrifying that the witnesses quit going hunting or frequenting an area where the sighting occurred.
The appearance of the Hairy Man is always the same, a cross between a man and a gorilla (what we see in pictures or movies, since we don’t have gorillas here). It’s always hairy, very large, and a fast walker. Its hair is either black, brown, auburn or white. It has almost no neck so when it turns around, it turns from its waist and not with its head like we humans do. The sightings seem always to be a natural occurrence, and not supernatural ones as in the magical Ircinraat or Little People stories.
Some in the science field are beginning to call Bigfoot or Sasquatch the North American Great Ape, due to the amount of evidence obtained by DNA, footprints, movies, photographs or otherwise. Some that want more proof need a body of a Bigfoot, yet around 30 known Bigfoot kills have been recorded in US history, several here in Alaska. Several were reportedly found dead during the big clean-up after the massive 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. They even got a live one from right here in Bethel. But every time the US government obtains a body, nothing else is heard about it afterwards, which leads us to believe that the US government is not the place where we’ll hear of official proclamation that the Hairy Man exists.
Interest in Bigfoot is getting intense. Hairy Man is getting popular. Spike TV (channel 38) is now offering $10 million to anyone of presenting irrefutable evidence that Bigfoot exists. They plan to air a few of the expeditions that look for this evidence. On Animal Planet (channel 47), we have the “Finding Bigfoot” series, which have been on the air for a couple years, but they will probably not find one on TV because their production crews in the field might be so large that they probably scare away the Bigfoots they pursue, and they also spend so little time in the areas they investigate.
Well, whether or not they will be declared a real animal is up in the air. Here at Delta Discovery we’ll just print what witnesses tell us, and we’ll publish one or two stories per issue until we have no more. We hope you enjoy the articles in the upcoming issues. And if you’re a witness or heard of a story and want to share it with our readers, send it to us at [email protected]. Let us know if you want to remain anonymous in the story. We reserve the right to publish any account sent to us, in order to try and weed out those that seem untrue or written in jest.