My Bigfoot Encounters















Note: The events that are described below occurred in 2006.  I decided to create a written account of these encounters in the event that someone might find them to be of interest. The subject of Bigfoot often comes up in the classes I teach. Everyone, it seems, has a Bigfoot story.  This is my contribution to the record.


For several years I lived in a rented house along Haxton Way on the Lummi reservation outside of Bellingham, Washington.  Haxton Way runs east to west and ends near Lummi Point close to the Lummi Island ferry.   My house was located a few feet off of the road on the south side.  Behind my house was about 100 yards of heavy, dense woods, and beyond that, Lummi Bay.

My first Bigfoot experience took place on Tuesday, September 23, 2009.  It was approximately 3:30 to 4:00 am.  I was scheduled to take the  5:40 flight out of Bellingham International Airport to Seatac on route to talk I was giving the next day at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. It was pitch dark outside, a cold, crisp, beautiful, and almost cloudless morning.  I was carrying my travel bags out to my truck when I heard it, a loud piercing cry that was so loud and clear it literally shattered the dark stillness of that early morning.  It came from the woods behind my house, I estimated not much further than 50 yards away. The vocalization itself was one long flowing sound that lasted perhaps five seconds,  paused for perhaps another two or three seconds, before repeating itself identically for a second time.   The cry also served to wake up every dog seemingly within a one mile radius who collectively filled the morning air with their own barks and howls. What has a few seconds earlier been complete silence, suddenly turned into loud chaos.  I immediately turned off my porch lights and for perhaps the next 15 minutes sat in the darkness hoping to hear the cry again.  But whatever creature made the sound, remained quiet.  After about 10 minutes, the last of the dogs had quieted down.  All was again silent.

I admit that the first thought that came to my mind upon hearing that scream was “that was a primate”, the second thing that came to my mind was “Bigfoot.”  It could be nothing else. The sound that I heard that morning could best be described as a long, drawn out “howling” cry.  It was completely and totally unique compared to any local animal or bird sound that I have ever heard.  In time, I  thought of every other possible creature  it could have been, and immediately ruled out each.  The nearest animal vocalization that I can compare it to – and indeed it is very close comparison -is  that of the cries made by Howler monkeys in the jungles of South America.

Less than one week later, Bigfoot paid me a second visit.

On the following Saturday, September 27,  I had gone pheasant hunting at nearby Lake Terrell.  It had been a good day and I returned home with two nice rosters .  To the right of the driveway in front of my house is a small clearing where the septic tank was buried.  There at the edge of the wood and only 20 feet from Haxton Road I had a pine log set up where I routinely cleaned my birds.  I would then thrown the remains – guts and feathers – into the woods where the raccoons and opossums could carry them off.  Upon returning from my hunt about noon, I went to the clearing to clean my birds, had just finished the first when suddenly “all hell broke loose” in the woods less than 20 feet in front of me.  The focal point of this chaos was a rather large tree  that  began to swing violently from side to side.  In terms of size, I would estimate that the trunk of this tree was perhaps ten inches in diameter and “something” was shaking it back and forth as if it was a sapling.  Branches and leaves began falling to the ground from this tree and other smaller ones around it that were being pounded.  Whatever had been shaking the tree stopped for a few moments and I could hear the loud cracking of wood as if someone was breaking branches over their knee or beating the ground with them.   I jumped to my feet knife in hand, not knowing what would come next and fully expecting that something was about to explode out of the brush to attack me. Although all of this disruption was taking place less than 20 feet in front of me, I could see nothing due to the density of the brush and foliage. Robin, my Labrador retriever, who had been lying on the ground next to me chewing on a pheasant wing, also had leaped to his feet.  Although he never growled or made any sound, he stared intently into the woods and cautiously began to back up toward the house.  For a few seconds things quieted down, then suddenly the large tree began to once again be shaken violently from side to side, more limbs and leaves fell to the ground, and all of this accompanied by the sound of more breaking wood and brush.  Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor and that my small skinning knife was certainly no match for whatever creature was in front of me, I gathered up my partially cleaned birds and began a hasty retreat to the house.  Robin was already on the porch waiting for me to open the door.

Interestingly, the animal itself made no sound, no vocalization of any type.

I have no doubt that this second incident was also a Bigfoot encounter.  Again, I would be at a loss to offer a better alternative theory.  This was not a simple matter of surprising some large animal like a deer or bear (In reality bear sightings on the Lummi reservation are far less frequent than Big Foot sightings) and having the it loudly breaking brush as it flees to safety.  Whatever animal I encountered that morning was not fleeing.  Although its actions were benevolent, there was a clear intent to scare me off and/or to assert dominance.  In both cases, it worked.

Prior to the encounters I have just described, I had never given much thought to Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, as some call this creature. I have since come to find that my house was located is an area well known for Bigfoot sightings.  The Lummi and other Coast Salish people do not question its existence.  Many of my students, for example, have had a Bigfoot encounters.  Almost everyone knows someone who has seen a Bigfoot.

In recent years it seems like the general public has become obsessed with Bigfoot, especially in regard to proving or disproving its existence.  Almost every television network seems to have a series dedicated to “finding” Bigfoot.  The Syfy Channel continues to release movie after movie based on the theme of  man-eating Bigfoots that terrorize teams of scientists or a camp full of teenagers. – both well-deserving targets.   Most recently a hunter from Texas (Where else?) claims to have killed a Bigfoot.

My own opinion? I personally know that Bigfoot is real.  I believe it to be a spiritual being, an entity that has powers beyond our imagination, including the power to shape shift – to change forms.  It is for this reason we will never be able to scientifically prove their existence.  I think this is a good thing.  I think that there are things that we do not need to know, mysteries that should forever remain mysteries.

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Bobby Bridger to Deliver the Keynote Address at the 9th Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium, July 10-12, 2014

Bobby Bridger

Bobby Bridger, singer and songwriter, poet and story teller, author, artist and “Balladeer of the American West,” will give the Vine Deloria, Jr. Address at the Ninth Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium, July 10-12, 2014 at Northwest Indian College, Lummi Nation.

Bridger was a close friend of Vine and the two worked on numerous projects together.  In addition to giving the keynote address, Bobby will also perform some of Vine’s favorite songs.

This summer’s symposium will also feature the official dedication of the Vine Deloria, Jr. Library Collection.

The purpose of the symposium itself is to bring together Native and non-native scholars, tribal elders, traditionalists, and others who are interested in carrying on the work of Professor Deloria and to introduce news ideas and expand knowledge in several key areas that Deloria devoted his life to.

The symposium itself will be organized as a series of intellectually driven panels – no workshop-type presentations, and specially invited guests speakers.

There is no set focus for this summer’s symposium and we expect presentation in the fields of law and policy, religion and spirituality, and Indigenous philosophy as it applies to the natural world.

There will be no PowerPoint of other electronic presentations allowed.

For more information on the symposium, including the submission of abstract proposals, contact :

Steve Pavlik, Co-coordinator, Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium.

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Will Tsosie talks about Navajo Views on the Animal People

On May 17, 2012, my good friend and mentor, Will Tsosie talked to my Native Animal Behavior class on the topic of “Navajo Views on the Animal People.” Will is someone I would call a Navajo “orthodox traditionalist.” He does not belong to the Native American Church, nor does he adhere to the tenets of western Christianity, but rather he follows the ways of his earliest ancestors and the teachings of the Navajo Holy People. Will’s presentation captures perfectfully the traditional Navajo view of the Animal People … one based on the concepts of interspecies kinship and respect.

Will is an archaeologist for the Navajo Nation and has BA degrees in Anthropology and Southwest Studies from Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado.

Thanks to Jake Sullivan for taping and preparing this video, and to Stoo Sepp for getting it up online.








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Hank Adams to Deliver Keynote at Deloria Symposium

Hank Adams, once described by Vine Deloria, Jr. as being “The most important Indian” in the country, will be delivering the keynote address at the Seventh Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium, July 12-14, 2012. The title of his talk will be “The Keys at the Fingertips of Vine Deloria, Jr.” Adams, a close personal friend of Delorias, is one of the iconic figures in the American Indian civil rights movement. An Assiniboine-Sioux from Montana, he moved to the Northwest as a youth and never left. It would be difficult to find an event during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s that Hank Adams was not involved in. He was a central figure in the struggle of the Northwest coast tribes to secure their inherent fishing rights. As a member of the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC), then later with his own organization which he founded and still directs – the Survival of American Indians Association – Adams helped to organize the first protests and “fish-ins.” In 1971 he was shot in the stomach while guarding Indian fishing nets, allegedly by white fishermen. Adams and the other Indian fishing activists perserved, and eventually their acts of resistance not only helped bring about the landmark court case U.S. v. washington – the Boldt decision – but proved to be the impetus for an entire movement. Hank Adams was everywhere during this time period: Alcatraz, the Trail of Broken Treaties caravan, and Wounded Knee were just a few of the evejnts in which he played a key role in. Adams was in many respects the “intellectual genius” of the movement, and wrote numerous position papers, including “The Twenty Points,” regarded as one of the most comprehensive Indigenous policy proposals ever devised. Recently Dr. David E. Wilkins edited a collection of his best writings in a volume entitled The Hank Adams Reader (2012). In 2006, Indian Country Today named Hank as recipient of its third (Billy Frank, Jr. and Deloria being the first and second respectively) American Indian Visionary Award. Recently Hank Adams was awarded an honorory doctorate degree in Native leadership from Northwest Indian College.

Photo by Kimberly Adams

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7th Annual Vine Deloria Indigenous Studies Symposium

The Seventh Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium is scheduled to be held July 12-14, 2012 at Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Washington. The purpose of this symposium is to bring together scholars and tribal elders interested in honoring the life and work of our friend, colleague, and mentor, Vine Deloria, Jr., and to present new ideas and expand knowledge in those areas Vine devoted his life to. There will be no topical focus or theme this summer. The symposium itself is organized as a series of intellectually driven panels – no “workshop” type presentations – as well as several invited addresses. Individual presentations may be formal or informal, but in keeping with the spirit of Vine, no PowerPoint or electronic presentations will be allowed.

Keynote address by Hank Adams

“The Keys at the Fingertips of Vine Deloria”

Please email registration forms to Angel Jefferson,, at Northwest Indian College.
Registration form below.
For more information, contact Steve Pavlik, Northwest Indian College. (360) 392-4307 phone or

Vine Deloria, Jr.

Registration Form

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On Q – Q’orianka Kilcher to Speak at Northwest Indian College, April 24th

On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, the actress and activist, Q’orianka Kilcher will be speaking at Northwest indian College. Q’orianka, who is of Quechan-Huachipaeri Indian descent from Peru – her first name translates to “Golden Eagle” in the Quechan language – is perhaps best known for playing Pocahontas opposite of Hollywood “A” Listers Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in director Terrence Malicks Academy Award nominated motion picture, The New World (2005). Since then she has gone on to star in anumber of other movies, most notably in the title role of Princess Kaiulani (2010), as well as Shouting Secrets (2010) and Neverland (2011). She has also appeared in an number of television specials including Sons of Anarchy and The Killing. In addition Q – as he friends known her – also has her own production company, iQ Films through which she recently produced her first major feature film, The Power of a Few” featuring not only herself, but a host of top actors including Christopher Walken and Christian Slater.

Q’orianka’s latest film movie project, Firelight, with Cuba Gooding, Jr., is scheduled to be broadcast on April 22nd on ABC’s Hallmark Hall of Fame.

This will be Q’orianka’s second visit to Northwest Indian College. Her previous visit was March 3-4, 2009.

On a personal note I first got to know Q shortly after the release of the New World. I was writing a review of the film and wanted to talk to the Native people involved in this production. I contacted another actress friend, Kim Norris, who put me in touch with Valerie Red Horse, who put me in touch with Q’s agent, who put me in touch with her mother Saskia, who graciously gave her approval for an interview. Initially we were to meet up at the Sun Dance Film Festival, but unfortunately that meeting fell through. Consequently we talked over the telephone a few weels later. Q was 15 at the time (She had starred in the New World at the age of 14). we talked for over an hour and I was completely taken by the maturity of this young lady and how articulate she was. Most of all, I was impressed by the social consciousness she possessed at such a young age … she was already quite a human rights and environmental activist. In addition, it was quite clear that she had a strong idenity as a young Indigenous person. She spoke knowingly and passionately about her people in Peru who were being exploited by the oil companies, and of her committment to work toward saving the Amazon rainforest.

While most of us are aware of, but do nothing, about problems like the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the devastating effects of climate change, Q has taken action. She has thrown herself in front of bulldozers in the jungles of Peru, and has chained herself to the fence of the White House to protest President Obama’s meeting with Peruvian President Alan Garcia. She has also served as the spokesperson for groups like Amazon Watch, Amnesty International, and the American Literacy Campaign. She has also championed the use of hydrogen fuel cell, zero admissions vehicles. She does these things unselfishly, not for glory or for self-promotion, but rather because she passionately believes in these important issues and in talking a stand and making a difference. In our “me first” oriented society, she stands out like a ray of sunlight. She is a true role model not only for our Native youth, but for all of us. I am proud to call Q my friend, and I am even prouder to help bring to Northwest Indian College again. I encourage everyone to come out and meet this incredible young woman!

Q’orianka will be speaking at 10:30 at the Career Fair on the topic of The Power of a Few: Taking a Stand and Making a Difference.” She will also be speaking at Lummi High School at 1:45 pm.

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For the Love of Rattlesnakes

The Summer/Fall 2011 issue of Three Coyotes environmental journal published my essay “For the Love of Rattlesnakes.” This article chronicles the natural history of rattlesnakes and their uneasy relationship with humans. It also describes my own experiences with these wonderful animals. To read this essay, click here

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John Trudell Coming to Northwest Indian College, April 25th

The legendary Native American poet, musician, and human rights and environmental activist John Trudell will be giving two talks at Northwest Indian College, April 25, 2012.
Trudell will first speak at 1:00 on the topic of “Our Responsibility to Protect the Earth” as part of NWIC’s Career Fair. His second talk, “Intelligence as Alternative Energy” will be given at 7:00 with a “meet and greet” scheduled at 6:00. Both talks are open to the public and both will be held at the Log Building.
Trudell, who is Santee Sioux, first burst on the national scene as a spokesperson for the United Indians of All Tribes takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969. Throughout the 1970s he was a leading activist with the American Indian Movement. Today Trudell is best known for his poetry and music. His 1979, “A.K.A Graffiti Man,” was the first of over a dozen albums. he has also appeared in numerous movies including Thunderheart, Smoke Signals, and On Deadly Ground. He is also the subject of a 2005 documentary film entitled “Trudell.”
For more information on Trudell’s visit to NWIC, contact Steve Pavlik, Native American Studies – 360-392-4307 or

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Seventh Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium to be Held July 12-14, 2012

The Seventh Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium is scheduled to be held July 12-14, 2012 at Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Washington. The purpose of this symposium is to bring together scholars and tribal elders interested in honoring the life and work of our friend, colleague, and mentor, Vine Deloria, Jr., and to present new ideas and expand knowledge in those areas Vine devoted his life to. There will be no topical focus or theme this summer. The symposium itself is organized as a series of intellectually driven panels – no “workshop” type presentations – as well as several invited addresses. Individual presentations may be formal or informal, but in keeping with the spirit of Vine, no PowerPoint or electronic presentations will be allowed.

For more information, contact Steve Pavlik, Northwest Indian College.

Vine Deloria, Jr.

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Carrying Out the Legacy: The Sixth Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Symposium

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