Hairy Man steals dried fish

A woman at fish camp saw a hairy man-like creature steal dry fish from their smokehouse as shown in this illustration. Illustration by AI

The witness is from Nunapitchuk and asked to be anonymous.
I grew up in Nunacuaq, a village north of Kasigluk. There was a school there but the river got too shallow for barges so they took the school building down and rebuilt it at Kasigluk. The whole village then moved: Some to Kasigluk, some to Nunapitchuk, and some to Bethel.
While we were still at Nunacuaq, my mom’s uncle’s wife died. He had a young daughter, maybe 4 or 5 years old, which my mom took in and cared for. Granduncle later remarried, to a lady from Akiachak whose husband had also died, and she had a young daughter too.
At times when Granduncle’s daughter wanted to see her father, my mom would bring us over to his home so the girl could see her father. One time, the girl’s father wasn’t home but his new wife wanted mom to have lunch with her so we stayed.
I remember after they ate and had tea, she told my mom this story (when she was living in Akiachak and her daughter was a baby):
Although her village is right along the Kuskokwim River, the people made fish camps where they pitched tents and stayed there as long as they fished. When her husband made the frame for their tent, it was too wide and the door flaps couldn’t close. They could see to the outside even after tying the door strings.
The lady asked her husband to fix the frame so the door could close, but he was always busy fishing, getting wood, or taking care of other things and would be too tired at night to fix it.
That summer, when they were done fishing and the fish were inside the smokehouse, her husband decided to go logging leaving her and her baby alone. (There were people at other fish camps but the camps were often far apart.) While her husband was away, the woman smoked the fish and took care of the dogs.
One evening, her baby wasn’t well, being restless and whining. That night she slept a few minutes at a time, before baby would wake again and start whining. Soon it was getting bright outside and baby whined again. The lady got up and tended to her baby. When the baby started nursing, the lady was relieved knowing that the baby was much better.
But then she noticed it was unusually quiet outside. Even the early morning birds were not chirping. Through the open door, she could see the dog, which was tied up to the left of the smokehouse door, down on its stomach, its fur very smooth and chin to the ground. She also noticed the dogs were making noises through their noses, making snorting sounds.
While she was looking at the dog, she saw a very big, furry person-like creature coming toward the smokehouse. It was looking around, turning its upper body while turning its head. It got to the smokehouse but did not go inside. Instead, it reached in and took out a dried chum. He tucked it under its arm, looked around again and left. It took long strides when he walked away.
When the creature left, the lady stayed very still for a long time, praying her baby wouldn’t whine. Luckily, her baby slept all that morning. She laid down too and covered her own face with a blanket.
Every now and then she’d peek from under the blanket to see if the creature was looking in through the tent door. When she covered her face again, she’d imagine it looking at her or trying to get inside their tent.
Her husband came home that very day. After that, she never let him leave them alone again.

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