Bigfoot,Sasquatch & Maximista mythology

There are amusing collections of “Native American names for Bigfoot” online that include the names of giants, dwarves, ghosts, gods, underwater monsters, four-legged predators, an enormous bird, and a disembodied flying head. 


“Bigfoot” is reference only to creatures like Sasquatch– wild, hairy men of the forest that are human-sized or slightly taller. Here is a list of Native American bigfeet.

 

Note that most of these legends are told by tribes of the Pacific Northwest region: Northern California, western Oregon and Washington State, British Columbia, Alaska and the Yukon. There are also many stories involving wild, hairy men of the forest in the Plains and Woodland tribes of the US, but most of those are forest dwarves, no taller than a human toddler. They have many similarities to the Bigfoot creatures, except for their size.

‘Bigfoot’ Creatures in Various Tribes

The Bigfoot figure is common to the folklore of most Northwest Native American tribes. Native American Bigfoot legends usually describe the creatures as around 6-9 feet tall, very strong, hairy, uncivilized, and often foul-smelling, usually living in the woods and often foraging at night.

Native American Bigfoot creatures are almost always said to be unable to speak human languages, using whistles, grunts, and gestures to communicate with each other. In some stories, male Big Feet are said to be able to mate with human women !. In some Native stories, Bigfoot may have minor supernatural powers, the ability to turn invisible, for example ,but they are always considered physical creatures of the forest, not spirits or ghosts. 


That is where the inter tribal Bigfoot similarities end, however. In the Bigfoot myths of some tribes, Sasquatch and his relatives are generally shy and benign figures, they may take things that do not belong to them or even kidnap a human wife, but do not harm people and may even come to their aid.

Sometimes Bigfoot is considered a guardian of nature in these tribes. Many people include myself think that those creatures are part of the watchers , the falling angels I talked about in previous writing.Watchers change shape and figures in different part of the world’s.

These more benevolent Bigfeet usually appear alone or in a small family unit, and may exchange food or use sign language to communicate with Native American communities. But Bigfoot legends from other tribes describe them as malevolent creatures who attack humans, play dangerous tricks on them, or steal children; they may even eat people. These more dangerous Bigfoot monsters, known as Stick Indians or Bush Indians, are sometimes found in large groups or even villages, which engage in warfare with neighboring Indian tribes. 

Boqs are large, hairy wild men of the forest. In the folklore of more northern tribes, such as the Bella Coola, Boqs are malevolent, dangerous monsters who may eat people or molest women. But in Chinook and Salishan versions of these legends, Boqs are sometimes depicted as more benign beings like the Halkomelem Sasquatch. Sometimes.

Boqs are also called by the name “Skookum,” which is a word from the Chinook Jargon trade language meaning “big” or “powerful.” This is sometimes a source of confusion, because “Skookum” has been used in Chinook literature to refer to many different sorts of powerful beings, not just Boqs.


The Lofa is a malevolent, ogre-like monster of Chickasaw folklore. His name literally means “flayer” or “skinner,” a reference to his gruesome habit of flaying the skin from his victims. In some legends he attempts to abduct Chickasaw women. He is sometimes described as a giant and other times as a large, hairy, smelly man, leading some people to associate him with the Bigfoot legend.

Maximista is a large, hairy humanoid creature, somewhat like the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of the Northwestern tribes, only with birdlike feet. The name Maximista literally means “big monster” or “big spirit being.” Though Maximista was considered a powerful and dangerous being, it was also said to be rather shy and stay out of people’s way, unlike the aggressive cannibal dwarves.

Maximista were probably the same Hairy Men mentioned in the Cheyenne creation myth, who lived in caves to the south of the Cheyennes and were notable for their shaggy body hair and lack of clothing (though they were sometimes said to use tools.) Most Cheyenne oral history that mentioned the Hairy Men regarded them as extinct or nearly so. The Hairy Men Clan (Hevhaitanio) was said by some to have be named in honor of these beings.

 

The shampe is a malevolent, ogre-like monster of Chickasaw folklore. In some legends he attempts to abduct Choctaw women; in others, he is a man-eater. He is sometimes described as a giant and other times as a large hairy man, leading some people to associate him with the Bigfoot legend. His most salient feature is his smell, a shampe’s smell is so overpowering that a person cannot bear to be around him, making him difficult to fight.

In Salishan mythology, Seatco are large, hairy wild men of the forest. There are two different kinds of Seatco that appear in folklore: powerful but comparatively benign forest spirits sometimes referred to as Night People (similar to the Sasquatch of the Halkomelem tribes,) and fearsome, malevolent man-eaters sometimes referred to as Stick Indians .The two beings are often confused in folklore and anthropology alike, because it is believed to antagonize these spirits to call them by their Salish names in public, so general terms like Seatco (which just means “spirit,”) Night People, and Stick Indians are much more commonly used by Northwest Native Americans.

 In the traditions of many Salish and other Northwest Indian tribes, Stick Indians are malevolent and extremely dangerous forest spirits. Details about Stick Indians vary from tribe to tribe (they are described as large, hairy bigfoot-like creatures by the Salish, and as forest dwarves by the Cayuse and Yakama.) In some traditions Stick Indians have powers to paralyze, hypnotize, or cause insanity in hapless humans, while in others, they merely lead people astray by making eerie sounds of whistling or laughter in the woods at night. In some stories Stick Indians may eat people who fall prey to them, kidnap children, or molest women.


They also take aggressive revenge against people who injure or disrespect them, no matter how unintentionally. 

Not too many traditional legends regarding Stick Indians have been recorded, in part due to taboos related to these deadly creatures. “Stick Indians” is an English euphemism; saying the actual Salish names of these beings in public is considered to be provoking their attacks in some tribes, a belief many Native people still adhere to today. 

Wood Man is a hairy bigfoot-like wild man of the forest who moves silently and rarely reveals himself to humans. Frequently he steals things or causes other minor mischief. In some stories Wood Men capture Athabaskan children or pursue humans and attempt to mate with them. In some tribes, such as the Ahtna, there is said to be only one Woodsman, who is an immortal mythological character ( like the watchers ).

In other tribes, Woodsmen of both genders are said to exist. They may overlap with Bush Indians in the folklore of some communities, but most Athabaskans consider them different beings. Bush Indians are more aggressive, more humanlike, and live in tribes, whereas Woodsmen are solitary, stealthy, and do not kill people

Thank you for reading.

Steve Ramsey, PhD.     Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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