Tag Archives: sasquatch

The Legend of Bigfoot


RR is one of my best friends and roommates. She is a sophomore at USC who enjoys crocheting, writing poetry, and making me laugh. 


Me: “Can you tell me now about Bigfoot? Because I know you heard about him since you were a little—all about him. Where is he from?”

R: “Bigfoot is a pretty big legend in the Pacific Northwest. 

I’m sure you have heard a little bit about him because you’re from Idaho 

but in Portland, and Oregon, because most of the state is covered in temperate rainforest. 

It’s a big thing for people to see Bigfoot. 

There’s so many sightings. 

There’s lots of websites too. 

The restaurant I worked in, the summer after I graduated high school, was a Pacific Northwest Oregon chain 

and some of the restaurants have lots of mementos of Bigfoot sightings 

like newspaper clippings or these really shitty, blurry photos of “Bigfoot” supposedly. I also had a teacher in high school who would go on hikes once a month 

and he’d try to find Bigfoot 

People really, really believe in him

there’s Facebook groups. 

There’s T shirts 

I bought us a shot glass that says Bigfoot country Oregon

It’s from the PDX airport. 

It’s big—it’s very prevalent in Oregon culture. 

I’d say that’s definitely one of the biggest landmarks of being an Oregonian.”


The legend of Bigfoot has been around since 1958; a writer for the Humboldt Times, Andrew Genzoli, was sent pictures of large footprints that were found in northern California. He published the photos and joked that perhaps the footprints belonged to a “relative of the Abominable Snowman.” However, people were intrigued by the pictures and deemed this unknown creature, “Bigfoot.” Following this article being published, Bigfoot became a popular cultural phenomenon; especially in the Pacific NorthWest where temperate rainforests are common. In addition to Bigfoot being a mascot to the PNW, politicians in Washington and Oregon have even proposed bills in order to protect the creatures from hunters.


Background: Informant was born and raised in Florida, with a very religious father. This story was told to me in person.

Informant: My dad always told me that sasquatch was gonna get me… whenever we’d go up to North Carolina or went to a cabin in the woods. It was definitely a cabin in the woods story. One time I woke up in the middle of the night and I could’ve sworn that Bigfoot was outside and I totally freaked out.

Me: What did you do?

Informant: I immediately went and woke up my dad and told him that Bigfoot was outside. I was so scared.

Me: what did your dad say?

Informant: He didn’t care. He just told me to go back to sleep and that Bigfoot wasn’t out there. 

Thoughts: It’s funny to think about the line that parents will draw in order to play a prank on their children and when they aren’t invested enough to keep up “the bit.” Obviously, my informant’s dad doesn’t really believe in Bigfoot if he was able to wave it off and tell his son to go back to sleep. If he really believed in Bigfoot or had even the slightest thought that. Bigfoot was real or was worried about it, the thought of Bigfoot being outside would have woken him up instantly and he would’ve responded to his son in a different way. 

Bigfoot the Friendly Creature

Main Piece: 

Collector (me): How were you introduced to Bigfoot when you were little? 

Informant: Um… I’m trying to think. I think my parents told me about him… um, and he was probably in various picture books as well that I saw. So in downtown Seattle we have the Space Needle as an iconic landmark of Seattle. And there’s a picture book that my dad had when he was younger, and it was the thing in the early 70’s— they were trying to make a thing that Seattle had a mascot called the Wheedle. And it was like the Lorax, except huge, and orange and yellow, and there was a picture book called the Wheedle on the Needle, and it was this friendly monster dude that hung out near the Space Needle. And my dad tried to like get me into the Wheedle. And it was not a thing. It was like 35 years later, and I was kind of scared of him because he looked scary, the Wheedle, and my dad basically told me, “He’s not crazy, he’s a friendly dude, he’s like Bigfoot. He’s just like a friendly person,” and then I asked, “What’s Bigfoot?” And then he explained he was a creature that lived in the woods, and that he’s not hurting anybody, he just wants to be left alone. He doesn’t want to be bothered so everyone gives him his space and he’s a nice nice person. If you run into Bigfoot you’ll be fine, don’t be scared.


My informant is a 20-year-old student from Washington state, where the legend of Bigfoot is incredibly popular— to the point of airports selling Bigfoot merchandise such as hats and shot glasses. As my informant said, “he’s kind of a state treasure, like everyone loves him. In other places it’s more like a creepy legend, but around here Bigfoot’s a friendly guy.” Whether one actually believes in him or not, it’s part of Washington state culture to acknowledge Bigfoot’s existence. 


When my informant was providing me with some Washington folklore for a separate post, I asked if she happened to know any lore about Bigfoot, since most of the legends I’ve heard about him take place there. She did, and I asked how she first learned about him, which she stated in the above piece.


This is the first version I’ve heard about Bigfoot where he’s been portrayed not as a monster, but a friendly creature. It’s very endearing, actually, and I think it’s a good representation of how attached a group can get to their legend. Even if Bigfoot is a well known legend across the U.S., this iteration of him could be considered a local legend because of how different he’s described as compared to the other versions where he’s shown as a creature out to cause harm. Since legends are just beliefs in narrative form, it also says a lot about how Washington people would rather view Bigfoot as kindly— as an icon of their state and culture. Furthermore, my informant’s point about Bigfoot’s popularity in Washington state indicates the notion that in order to become part of the surrounding folk group, there has to be an acceptance of this creature, or at least an acknowledgement. What’s also interesting to examine about this piece is how Bigfoot’s popularity has led to the development of a myriad of merchandise for locals and tourists alike, and could be seen as an example of cultural intimacy.

Arizona Bigfoot

Informant’s Background:

My informant, JA, is a undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. He moved from his family home in Arizona to attend college in Los Angeles. His family is of German ancestry.


I (AT) am a close friend of JA, and he comes over to hang out at my apartment often. I asked him if he had any folklore he could share and this story was his response.


JA: “So anyways I’m in my psych class, professor to be left unnamed for confidentiality reasons, err, and he’s been like a perfectly good professor the whole semester, like very informative, very smart well-informed guy, older guy, and then he’s like-this last class he’s like yeah I went hiking and I saw bigfoot one-hundred-percent and I’m one-hundred-percent confident in this.”

AT: “What was the story exactly?”

JA: “Uhm… The story was, I’m trying to remember all of the details, but mostly that he was hiking in the woods in like a relatively uhm… popular-not even relatively popular, just like a-some place in Arizona like a wooded area that the guy hikes a lot etc and he was just like yeah I saw him there and he was bigfoot, and he was like eight feet tall and yeah, I’m like a hundred percent certain of what I saw.”

Informant’s Thoughts:

JA: “That was all the detail he really gave on the story. I wasn’t really sure if he was shitting us, but he seemed to believe it and he waited to tell it to us at the end of the year and then that was the last class I had with him and then I haven’t spoken to that professor like since so it wasn’t like a gotcha or anything.”


Stories of Bigfoot are fairly common throughout the United States and Canada. I think this example is interesting because of the context in which the story is presented, and more specifically, the way in which it is presented. In my analysis of this performance, I thought a lot about the lack of information given by my informant. It seems to me that the informant had a very skeptical attitude towards the narrative his teacher was presenting, and framed the whole re-telling of that narrative in a way that implied that the teacher’s story was not to be believed, or that he was crazy, that he broke off from the normal at the last day of class. It occurred to me the link between the negative viewing of the original storyteller’s narrative by our informant and the lack of the actual ability to recount much of the original storyteller’s (the professor) narrative. To put it simply: the informant did not care about the bigfoot story. To the informant, the story was that the teacher was crazy, or weird, and that he presented this narrative on the last day of class, and how crazy that was. But what is lost is much of the original storyteller’s bigfoot tale. I think it’s very interesting how much a narrative can change depending on who is telling it, as in this case the entire narrative is reframed from what was originally intended by the professor’s telling of the story.


Data was collected in a noisy classroom near the end of a discussion session. Dr. Mayfield was my TA, and had told me the previous week that she had witnessed a “strange occurrence,” which she was willing to share with me for the folklore archives.

This memorate was recalled from a trip in 2013 in Wisconsin Dells, a vacation spot around Lake Michigan. The informate grew up in Chicago, then moved to Tennessee at the age of 8, where she was told about Bigfoot – or the “skunk ape” or “swamp ape” – by other children in middle school. She first heard about it at a camp sleepover in the woods, and since then, heard about it many times.
“I saw Bigfoot. I smelled Bigfoot, actually. Yeah I think I may have smelled Bigfoot. So we were in Wisconsin, um, Wisconsin Dells. Um, and I was sitting outside, uhhm, smoking a cigarette, which is why I was outside by myself at like 3 o’clock in the morning, and I thought I saw somebody walking around? And then I smelled this terrible, terrible smell. And then I heard a noise I’d never heard that sounded kind of like gurgling and yelling at the same time? And kind of howling, but it definitely wasn’t a dog, and it wasn’t a bear. And then I heard it lumber off…. But I definitely saw the shadow of something, like, on the other side of a tree that was… I guess it could’ve been a bear on its hind legs, but it definitely, to me, looked like, like a, a really hairy Chewbacca. It was a full moon – and it was a full moon. So I could see pretty well. It was probably about 50 to 60 feet away from me. But it smelled different than I’ve ever – that was the other thing, is it… it smelled like…. Like a ho-, like [smacks licks, thinking]… a horse barn that had never been cleaned out. Like hay and mold and it was the weirdest thing. There was a like, super strong smell. Um, again, I guess it could’ve been a bear, but it really did not look like that to me. So that’s, that’s my story, but… I definitely have no idea what it was. It, there are bears in that area, but they’re also smaller bears, probably 7 to 9 feet tall… I don’t know if other people have seen Bigfoot, or have smelled Bigfoot. I would say that the biggest that was different was I smelled it, and I grew up in the country for at least part of the time, and I’d never heard anything like that, and I’d never smelled anything like that. Um, but it definitely, um, it had a different… if it was a bear, it was almost like its voicebox was messed up or something, cause it definitely did not sound like that… The only thing that I ever smelled like it, just to kinda add to the story, is, I’d been living in Tucson for a while, I actually commute, and, um, they have wild pigs there, and they have a similar smell. So you don’t, you don’t see them, but you start to smell them, and you’re like, ‘Okay there’s these, these wild pigs around.’ So that’s the only thing that at all has smelled like anything like I smelled. Which sounds like the weirdest thing, you would think it would be seeing it, but there was this smell. I guess I was downwind, which is probably good if it was a sasquatch [laughs]. It didn’t come get me.”
This is not the only account of (what people assume is) Bigfoot having a distinct smell. According to the Animal Planet show Finding Bigfoot, “about 10 or 15 percent of witnesses report some sort of smell associated with sasquatches. A lot of times it’s described as ‘rotting meat.’” (https://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/finding-bigfoot/videos/the-smell-of-death-is-in-the-air)