Our Northwest

Might 'Bigfoot Bounty' find our Sasquatch?

Thursday, January 16, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Check out the new Spike TV reality show, "10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty," that debuted Jan. 10.
   Teams compete to find conclusive visual and DNA proof that giant, hairy bipeds exist. That sets it apart from non-conclusive shows like Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot."
   As a sidenote, native Northwesterners tend to prefer the name Sasquatch, derived from two Salish words used by British Columbian Native Americans. "Bigfoot" was coined by Californians in 1958 after enormous prints were found in the mountains east of Crescent City.
   Oh, one more sidenote: Cambridge biologist and ethnologist Ivan T. Sanderson wrote that Washington's coastal Indians called the creature "Hoquiam," same as the city.
   But I digress.
   About half of the "Bigfoot Bounty" episodes were filmed in Washington, with some shot in Oregon. The show includes a scientist who's a skeptic that loves to mock Bigfoot as mere myth.
   I've never seen a Sasquatch, though I believe it's possible they might exist. In the 1900s, scientists dismissed gorillas, giant pandas, and the coelacanth as mythical creatures until they were discovered in 1902, 1916, and 1938 respectively.
   While visiting Idaho in 1981, I browsed through archives of the Rathdrum Tribune newspaper. I stumbled across an 1890s article describing a hairy giant seen in the mountains east of Coeur d'Alene. I shared it with my brother-in-law Jim, a North Idaho College professor who had an interest in cryptozoology.
   Around that time Jim founded the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club, which had fun exploring legendary local oddities like the Pend Oreille Paddler (a giant lake creature), cattle mutilations, and tales of secret Navy submarines and missile tests in the nearby lakes.
   One of his students claimed to have found a putrid Bigfoot lair in the hills nearby. Playfully, Jim organized an "expedition" in which a dozen or so people would try to relocate and assess this alleged lair. I eagerly volunteered to join them.
   Unfortunately, the expedition itself never materialized, even though Jim had official T-shirts made in advance to commemorate the event. My shirt is now a vestige of the Greatest Idaho Scientific Discovery to Never Take Place.
   However, I'm delighted that when PEMCO unveiled its "Desperately Seeking Sasquatch" Northwest Profile, the Sasquatch hunter just happened to strongly resemble Jim. So my family tells him he's been venerated in Sasquatch lore, after all.
   I suppose I'd better tune in to "Bigfoot Bounty" and see if they explore the Bitterroot Range and Coeur d'Alene Mountains.
   If they find a Sasquatch, remember, we thought of looking there first.

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