by K.J. Lincoln
“I have never talked about this because I used to think people wouldn’t believe me,” she said. Her name is Susie and she asked that we only use her first name for this story. “I was only 5 years old.”
Susie grew up in the village of Toksook Bay. When she was 5, she saw a large, hair-covered, Bigfoot-like creature that could jump powerfully long and fast. It frightened her so much that it became etched into her memory. This story would have happened approximately 40+ years ago.
She was a little girl just out of preschool and ready to attend kindergarten. Susie walked to the old community hall in the village where the preschool teacher, Miss Marie, was staying. Miss Marie had an apartment there and Susie wanted to visit her to say hi.
The bright and sunny fall afternoon in August was beautiful, it was around 1:00pm Susie recalls. She was by herself when she walked down to the old community hall building. There was no one else around.
“I went in through the porch, the arctic entryway, and it was kind of dark in there,” she said. She went into the main building’s one big community gathering room and it was full of boxes – boxes that had come in on the barge. The boxes took up the whole room and she doesn’t quite know what they were.
“I could feel something staring at me,” she said.
That something was hidden behind the boxes. Susie readied herself to run to the door but that is when the creature jumped from across the room towards her.
“It jumped from the back of the room and landed right in front of me a few inches away. All I could see was the legs. I was so startled. It was covered with hair, it had huge feet and since I was right there I could see it. I saw its huge hands, powerful looking hands and it was very hairy, hair all over its body. Then I saw its face and its eyes, it was looking at me,” said Susie. “Our eyes locked. It looked like a person. I could see the face but it was so rough looking, it had a huge nose and huge mouth. And its eyes. I could hear it breathing and I started crying, qalrillaglua. And then I turned and I that’s when I lost consciousness. When I came to, I was running to our house.”
A neighbor saw her running out of the community hall crying and she asked her what was the matter.
“Qaill’ pisit? What’s wrong?” the neighbor asked.
“I told her that I saw a big hairy person. The neighbor could see that I was very scared. She told me to run home and tell my mom,” said Susie.
Susie ran home as fast as she could. She told her mom what she saw but her mom wouldn’t believe her. Susie kept telling her about it over and over again, all day long. That was all she could talk about that day. She couldn’t even leave the house, she was still so frightened. Still, her mom would not believe what she was saying.
And so the years passed on by. Susie went to kindergarten that fall, grew up and now she has grown children of her own.
“After that I stopped talking about it and after all those years I started hearing stories from others and even saw it on TV. I recognized what I had seen. Was it Bigfoot? It was huge, over 6 feet tall. It was similar, hair all over the body, strong, big feet, big hands. I don’t know what I saw but I think it was Bigfoot. I think I saw one. I can still remember how it looked. I don’t know why it didn’t take me, I was right there. That is my story. That is how I tell it.”
But how could it be inside indoors?
“I wasn’t the only one who saw it,” Susie said. “There was another person who saw it in that same building besides me at another time on a different day. It was in the summer but at that time it was on the roof of the community hall. It was someone close to my age who saw it. I don’t even know who that person is.”
And besides that person, there is one other who Susie knows who saw it.
After being used as the community hall, that building served as the village’s tribal offices. It is now closed down, shuttered.
Susie, who is an accomplished and published artist, drew a picture of the creature she saw. Her drawing piqued our interest and she agreed to share her story with The Delta Discovery.
“I drew it last Friday,” she said. Her memory of it is still clear even after all these years. “My mom would not believe me until I got older. Now she believes me. Like on TV, if we see one, I would say, Mom tamakucimek tangellruyugnarqua. I think I saw one of those.”