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OBSERVED: In 1973 I was employed as a physical therapy intern for Native People in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I had the pleasure of meeting a lady who would help me understand the traditional belief systems of the Stony (Assiniboine in west central Alberta) People. Although the Stony share much in common with Siouxan groups, they are in many ways Algonkian and Cree words like "napeo" (people) are very common. While my friend acknowleded the neighbouring Cree belief in wendigo, she said that in Stony the name was "m-s-napeo", meaning simply "big people".
She added that when she was a child of about ten, around 1944, she accompanied her aunt. uncle and cousins in a horse drawn wagon west of Rocky Mountain House on a dirt road (now the David Thompson Highway between Red Deer and the Columbia Icefields). On a sunny summer day they were rounding a corner in the road on the north shore of Abraham Lake near Windy Point when they abruptly stopped, causing all the children in the back to stand up. She said that they all saw, standing in the road a hundred yards in front of them, a large seven or eight foot manlike creature covered with black hair. At that instant her uncle quietly exclimed " msnapeo" and her aunt told all the children to lie down in the back of the wagon while she (the aunt) threw a blanket over them. She said that her uncle just turned the wagon around on the road and headed them back to home. I did not doubt her sincerity. She added that numerous people of her tribal first nation had since seen the msnapeo around the Saskatchewan River while summer berry picking.
I had studied anthropology as a major in my undergrad years at Winnipeg, Manitoba and had assebled as my major graduating paper, a comparitive paper on sasquatch-like beings in Western Canada(this now lost, much to my regret). My ethnography prof at the time, who had worked with the Chipewyan was so pleased with my efforts that he encouraged me to continue the work as a masters thesis but I am afraid that a concurrent acceptance into physical therapy has put all that on hold for the last twenty five years.
Proffessor wrote to me in '70 sharing coastal material and I have since gathered a few other bits. Working in Nanaimo, BC in 74-79 Mr. (confidential) told me that in Nanaimo dialect of Hakomelem there were three types of creatures similar to sasquatch, in fact he said the first two were identical to that mainland creature, were hairy and black, a bit larger than a man and called "Squeenoose" and "Papay'oose". "Even a white man could see these creatures, and they have no special powers." However" he added "you could get one as a guardian spirit and it would make you really strong, but they would also make you a little bit ... well ... unlucky. He continued." I knew a fellow once who had one as a guardian spirit and it made him really strong...he could handle the peavey poles on the log booms with just one hand ...but nothing ever seemed to go quite right for him. that was the only problem with having one as a guardian spirit.
"The other creature was the kwai-a-tlatl, the tree-striker, they were a lot like the other two but would knock down trees and make a big sound. If you ever tried to follow thir tracks they would lead you around in a big circle and make you go crazy." He added that he and his dad had been fishing at Dodds' Narrows in the forties and they had heard a tree fall just onshore in the forest and he asked his dad, "What was that?" and his father replied "That was kwai-a-tlatl, don't even think of going there." "But late that night I did sneak off the boat in the skiff and rowed to shore. I tried to find the tree but couldn't and came back. In the morning my dad just looked at me and he said, "you went , didn't you?" and was a little mad at me but nothing ever happened and we didn't mention it again. (Nanaimo, 1974)
Right now I am collecting Tlingit "kushtekaa", Haida "gogidt" and other local narritives from the Ketchikan area. These are both sasquatch like creatures but as I am sure yo well know, include references in half the cases to giant half man-half otter characteristics. In Saxman (near Ketchikan) however when the creature is more like sasquatch, some of the local Tlingit will use the word "hootslan" which they use to refer to anything like Bigfoot. In order to distinguish between "land-otter people" or "kushtekaa", "gogidt" (who may or may not have tails) on the one hand and sasquatch-like creature on the other some Haida on Prince of Wales in Hydaburg use the name "herring-man" for sasquatch. Fear of ridicule by other natives and non natives and a fear of spiritual or metaphysical consequences inhibit much open discussion of kushtekaa or gagidt. The same may be said in theTsimshean village of Metlakatla on Annette Island of ba'oosh, although that creature is not transformational and resembles Kwakwalawala or BellaCoola "bukwis".