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STATE: North Dakota
COUNTY: Mountrail County
NEAREST TOWN: New Town
NEAREST ROAD: ND Highway 22
OBSERVED: (Please see Minot Daily News Vol.88 No.63 for March 3, 2004 for full story.)
ALSO NOTICED: There was also another sighting that day farther south of New Town. On February 23 there was another unconfirmed sighting in Mandaree. On February 24 two area men reported they spotted a bigfoot creature walking along Highway 22 southwest of Mandaree.
OTHER WITNESSES: one adult female and more than one child
ENVIRONMENT: trailer court near trees
Follow-up investigation report:
This report is very unique, as it is comprehensive of at least four purported sightings in the span of three days, demonstrating a path of travel in a south to southwest direction covering 35 miles. It also illustrates the observation potential of an animal such as this traveling such a distance across open, thinly forested terrain.
It must be noted as a preface to this commentary the difficulty I had in locating and/or contacting witnesses related to these events, albeit I was on location at the tribal headquarters and traveled around the general area with the Public Relations Director and the Minot Daily News reporter for an entire day. As you will read below, the witnesses were either unwilling to discuss the incident, did not own a telephone, were not located, or actually died prior to my arrival. Some of the information listed below was collected by either the tribal headquarters officials or news reporter Eloise Ogden, who received it directly from witnesses, and subsequently shared with me.
Here is the report:
Location - Ft. Berthold Reservation of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation. Tribal headquarters is located on the outskirts of New Town, North Dakota, approximately 90 miles north of Dickinson, ND.
Timeline of Events:
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Sighting occurs near trailer park located on the southeast edge of New Town, ND. In mid-afternoon, a group of small children allegedly see a large, hairy animal standing on two legs and immediately become frightened and begin screaming, running towards their trailer. Hearing the commotion outside, the woman in the nearest trailer, the mother of two of the children, rushes outside. She witnesses the animal walking hurriedly away from the area. She is quoted as saying, "I don't know how big it was, but it just pushed through those trees like you're going through bushes and it was moving fast."
(By the time I arrived in New Town, the woman would no longer speak to anyone about the experience. She was still very upset about it, and claimed her children were afraid at night and would no longer go outside. She wants her children to forget the event ever happened, and refused to meet with me.)
Later the same evening of February 22, 2004, a second sighting was reported approximately eight (8) miles south of New Town, just west of Muskrat Lake. No details were obtained.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Night-time sighting reported by two women who claim to have seen hairy man-like animal through the window of their home. The location was adjacent to Hwy 22 approximately five (5) miles southwest of the town of Mandaree, (pronounced Man-da-ray). The location of this home is approximately 17.5 miles southwest of the second sighting, and 25.5 miles south/southwest of the initial trailer park sighting. What is of particular interest in this instance, is that to reach this location, the animal in question had to cross Lake Sakakawea. At the time of this incident, Lake Sakakawea was covered with a thick sheet of winter ice. It was possible to walk across the lake at this time. However, having visited the area, I can attest to the fact that the lake essentially stands as a river, one mile across. There is next to no tree growth or foliage along the shore of the lake. It would be quite easy to spot a large, dark figure walking across the ice-covered lake. One would assume the lake was crossed under the cover of darkness, but it is also worth mentioning that there are few sections of lake shore with any development existing outside of the New Town vicinity. Lake Sakakawea is one of five major lakes created on the Missouri River by the federal government in an effort to eliminate the annual flooding of river lowlands. Lake Sakakawea is located in west-central North Dakota stretching from the Garrison Dam at Riverdale, ND, nearly 150 miles to the Montana border. The lake covers over 365,000 surface acres and has an extended shoreline of over 1,500 miles. The width of Sakakawea ranges from one to 14 miles wide with the Van Hook Arm the widest area of the lake.
The two women who reported the sighting near their home southwest of Mandaree to the tribal headquarters did not have a phone and I was not able to discuss their sighting directly. I was also not allowed to "drop in" on their home to discuss their experience.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
In the dark hours of the late evening two men were driving south from Mandaree on Hwy 22. The elder of the two, at age 49, and the younger at age 22. Just after passing the junction of BIA 14, upon cresting a rise in the road, the two men saw a very large, hair-covered animal walking on two legs down the middle of the road. The driver stopped the vehicle quickly, and after being illuminated in the headlights, the animal walked to their right and down into the ditch. It then walked out of sight directly to the south. Apparently, another car that was traveling close behind these witnesses, and quickly veered around them after they stopped and sped away. It was assumed that the occupants of the second car could not have missed seeing the creature. (This information is taken second hand from the nephew of the older witness.)
Thursday, February 26, 2004
The elder witness invites his nephew and friend to accompany him to the location of the sighting to look for tracks. The two younger men invite three other friends to join them. (The names of all witnesses and the afore-mentioned friends are withheld for reasons of privacy.)
Upon searching the ditch near the location of the sighting, all six men discovered a long line of footprints in the snow, running parallel to the highway in a southerly direction. In a later interview, the nephew estimated the line of tracks to be nearly 300 yards long. The length of stride was estimated between four and five feet. This would equate to approximately 150 footprints made in the snow that night! The witnesses also indicated that between 6 and 10 tracks were found with clear toe impressions. The individual tracks were estimated at 15-17 inches long, and generally 4-5 inches across, but definitely widening towards the toes. Many tracks displayed evidence of a mid-tarsal break, or flexible foot; the compression of snow pile in the middle of the track.
The group ultimately followed the line of footprints and claimed the tracks drifted back towards the pavement and eventually stopped, indicating the animal's return to walking on the pavement of the highway. The group then drove a mile or two south on the highway searching for tracks signaling where the animal may have again wandered off the road. No additional tracks were located.
While walking along the highway, two more acquaintances of the nephew stopped by in their vehicle to inquire as to what was happening. They were also witness to the long line of tracks.
Friday, February 27, 2004
Dennis Fox, Jr, Director of the Independence Program and Paul Danks, administrator of the Natural Resources Department, both of the Three Affiliated Tribes, drove to the sighting location to photograph the line of tracks. With the temperatures warming through the area, significant melting had occured and consequently, the detail found in the tracks had been lost. Dennis did take photos of several tracks and their deep impression in the snow, (see BFRO report #8130). He and Danks also followed the tracks until they veered back towards the pavement and ended. They also searched further down the highway for tracks indicating when the animal had again left the pavement, but they found none.
Surprisingly and suddenly, on the morning of the same day, the elder witness, age 49, died of a brain aneurysm. Many acquaintances of the witness described him as being highly distressed because of the sighting the last two days before his death. In addition, because of the beliefs of many Native Americans, several people associated the witness' death with the sighting. There seemed to be great concern about this coincidence among many tribal members.
A note about the terrain:
The western central North Dakota landscape harbors two distinct types of terrain. There are the very slight rolling hills, many covered with fields of grain, which support very little tree and brush growth. It is truly the flat and rolling plains of North Dakota. Yet, hidden amongst these numerous fields are countless ravines, draws, and canyons that support significantly thick tree and brush growth. The largest example of this change in terrain is that commonly known as the "badlands". The concept and structure of the badlands is very similar to that of the Grand Canyon. Giant rifts have been carved out of the landscape by both water and wind. The subsequent erosion of these factors created uniquely rounded and graduated pinnacle-style geologic formations of the rock and sand. Interspersed between these geologic formations are the wooded drainages and ravines, which could provide adequate cover and shelter for an animal such as described by the witnesses.
As mentioned above, I traveled to Fort Berthold Reservation nearly two weeks after the sightings occurred. I spent the majority of the day in the tribal headquarters building interviewing numerous people about all types of bigfoot experiences. Quite frankly, there were too many accounts to handle in one day. It quickly became apparent that a significant history of activity has been occurring for years on the reservation, and truly warrants further study. Hopefully, these additional experiences will be published in later reports.
(Let it also be known that to engage in any type of investigation or travel on the reservation, one must acquire permission through the tribal headquarters office prior to arrival.)
The remainder of the day was spent visiting the various sighting locations, (all potential evidence in the snow completely obliterated by two weeks of early spring temperatures), and interviewing the elder witness' nephew and friend about the footprints they viewed along the road. It was quite apparent that having seen the tracks truly affected each man. They were still somewhat shook up about the incident.
Based upon the number of witnesses, the suggested path of travel, the longevity of activity that was shared with me, and of course, the documented line of tracks in the snow, it is the opinion of this investigator that this was in fact, an authentic encounter of a bipedal, hair-covered animal in the "badlands" of North Dakota.