Uploaded to the media archives – An audio interview, over 45 minutes in length, with a good friend and long-term witness from Oklahoma. She shares detailed information about her encounters, as well as an audio recording made during a sighting on her property. Audio and images.
Today, I want to talk to you about some things I’ve learned from working with long-term witnesses for over two decades.
Historically, most long-term witnesses have been reluctant to talk publicly about their encounters. Just as incidental witnesses (those who have brief sightings like road crossings) have met with skepticism and ridicule from the public, long-term witnesses have found the bigfoot research community to be equally resistant to accepting their anecdotes. Why?
There is a disconnect between witnesses and researchers that stems from the different, and sometimes opposing, mindsets of each. Witnesses and researchers focus on this subject differently and speak different languages. What researchers want, witnesses are often unwilling to give.
Researchers generally concentrate on proving that bigfoot exists. They seek evidence that will stand up under scientific scrutiny – that will constitute PROOF to the scientific community and therefore the public at large. Researchers aren’t concerned yet with what bigfoot is… they’re still trying to prove that bigfoot is. They seek validation of the phenomenon itself from the scientific community (because nothing exists unless science says it’s so?). They generally look at any evidence presented in terms “proof” or “not proof”, maintain high standards for the former and are mostly uninterested in anecdotal evidence that may speak to the nature of Sasquatch. When an incidental witness offers a sighting report, researchers interview the witness and add the data to their files. They don’t ask for “proof”… the witness generally didn’t have the opportunity to obtain any because the encounter was brief. Anecdotal evidence, for most researchers, is only useful for attempting to discern patterns in the data that will aid the researcher in gathering further evidence to prove that Bigfoot exists.
Long-term witnesses, on the other hand, have little interest in proof. Few witnesses feel the desire to “gather evidence” of their encounters. They often say to me, “Why do I need to prove that they’re out there? I see them. I know they’re there. I’m just trying to interact with them and understand them.” Or “I don’t WANT to prove that they exist. I’m afraid for their safety if I do. I don’t want to be the one responsible for what happens to them…” Or “I don’t want to run around trying to gather evidence. They trust me. I don’t want to betray that trust and risk ruining this thing I have going with them.”
Researchers want to prove it. Long-term witnesses either don’t care about proof or are deeply concerned about the repercussions of providing it. Therein lies the disconnect.
It is further magnified when long-term witnesses have innocently come forward to share details about their encounters, thinking they’re being helpful to researchers.
When a long-term witness comes forward, researchers immediately ask for evidence that witnesses are, in fact, having encounters. They listen to the witness’ claims of ongoing interactions and demand “proof”. Sometimes, researchers attempt to intimidate witnesses into providing it by threatening to entirely dismiss their accounts unless proof is provided. Researchers express frustration that the witness claims to have access to the proof they seek, yet the witness shows little interest in providing it – or outright refuses. If evidence is forthcoming, it is then held to the researcher’s high standard of “scientific proof” ends up being picked apart and discounted anyway. Subsequently, the witness’ claims are discounted and the witness often begins to get ridiculed at this point. If the witness does not or refuses to provide any evidence at all, the witness is dismissed and/or ridiculed as well.
But in this scenario researchers often forget one crucial detail: witnesses are not researchers. They don’t think like researchers and they don’t interact with Sasquatches like researchers do. Having worked with long-term witnesses for as long as I have, I can say this comfortably – the very behaviors that researchers exhibit while trying to “collect evidence” and prove that Sasquatches exist are the very behaviors which cause Sasquatches to avoid them. Witnesses witness Bigfoot because they don’t behave like researchers… they behave like witnesses. Researchers rarely see Sasquatches – and if they do, those sightings are brief and incidental, not ongoing or interactive like those of long-term witnesses. A researcher’s subconscious agenda to PROVE the existence of these creatures causes them to attempt to control every interaction toward a specific outcome – provoking a response and gathering evidence – and that very behavior, as any long-term witness will tell you, precludes a Sasquatch’s desire to interact with us. Sasquatches like to remain in control. Witnesses allow them to remain in control and subsequently benefit from that with increasingly close interactions. Researchers do not.
Another factor that causes researchers to dismiss eyewitness accounts? Long-term witnesses tend to ascribe more human-like attributes to Sasquatch than many researchers are comfortable with. Their descriptions of behavior don’t fit into the commonly-accepted paradigm of Bigfoot being something akin to a bipedal gorilla.
Many witnesses have independently described subtle details of human-like attributes and behaviors to me that many researchers would discount. Spoken language – including stilted English on occasion (you can hear a description of this in the audio interview above). Juveniles drawing patterns in the dirt with sticks. Sasquatches having conversations with one another and gesturing like people while they do it. Gift exchanges. Acts of compassion. Humor. Intelligence and awareness which far surpasses any known “ape” besides us. These witnesses, who do not know one another and have never been exposed to each other’s accounts, offer observations that are often identical in detail.
For me, a witness-turned-researcher who has always been interested in understanding WHAT they are because I already know THAT they are, these anecdotes and the similarities evident in them are priceless. They help me gain an ever-clearer understanding not only of the nature of what I saw, but also how to better apply myself in the field to seek the interaction with Sasquatches that I desire in order to fully understand them.
There has been a subtle change occurring, particularly over the past year, within the bigfoot community of researchers and witnesses. It is gradually becoming more acceptable – or at least more common – for witnesses to speak out about their observations of Sasquatch which allude to Bigfoot being something more than an “upright ape”, and witnesses are beginning to find a voice to express their desire to see these beautiful creatures treated with respect. Rumors are flying about Bigfoot DNA and there are murmurings of “human” aspects to it. Many are holding their breath to see if this is the year that proof is made public, with the Ketchum DNA study, or clear images are finally revealed in the Erickson media. Many more are beginning to consider how all of this might change the question being asked from “if” they are to “what” they are. Several researchers have contacted me privately to discuss their changing views on how best to approach field research in light of that shifting question.
Is “proof” coming in the near future? Melba Ketchum posted this to her Facebook profile this morning:
Ok, for the sake of time ( and I hope all of you understand), I will answer everyone publicly here. I keep getting a lot of emails from everyone wanting to know the status of the project. Though I cannot give details or timing, I will assure everyone that all is well and we are continuing to move forward. Good science cannot be forced or quickly completed. If it is not extremely thorough, then it will all be for naught and any paper rejected outright. So, I ask you to be patient and understanding and realize that extreme scientific overkill is required in order to convince a world full of skeptical scientists. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”. This is what we are doing. When we started this, I thought we would be finished in a few weeks, but instead as Sasquatch are known to do, they threw us curve balls even with their DNA which can be as elusive as they are. Thank goodness we are past that! As a result, we have assembled a renowned team, each of us with our own specialties to make this project “extraordinary”. If everyone will hang in there, I promise it will be worth the wait. We have the proof, now just give us the opportunity to present it in a form that will even convince skeptics. Thanks so much for all of your emails and support. Best wishes to all.
If this DNA study does, in fact, prove once and for all THAT bigfoot exists, what will researchers do then? The conundrum will shift from IF they are to WHAT they are (the same question that has been the focus of my research for 20+ years). What will weekend warriors or full-blown research organizations attempting to gather evidence to prove bigfoot’s existence do when they suddenly find themselves without a purpose? Just as Bigfoot begins to gain popularity as a subject in the reality TV genre, every program that has aired in the past or is in the works (like David Shealy’s upcoming show) that aims to prove that they exist, or examines the evidence that they might, will be rendered irrelevant. If the nature of Bigfoot is as I suspect, Bigfoot will no longer be a wildlife biology question, but a cultural anthropology question. The popular techniques that have been used endlessly in the field to attempt to gather proof will only ensure that researchers never get close enough to truly answer the followup question of “what are they?” (or better yet “WHO are they?”), because determining the actual nature of Sasquatch will require much closer interaction. That necessitates allowing them to remain in control. Long-term witnesses know this. They’ve known it all along.
Will those witnesses have a voice then? Will they feel more comfortable coming forward and sharing what they know because they will no longer be asked to be the one to provide the “proof” that they fear may bring about the demise of Sasquatch? Will they begin to share what they know about the nature of these creatures in hopes of garnering respect and compassion for them?
I hope so. It’s beginning and I hope to see this trend continue. I will do what I can to help it along.
My friend in Oklahoma, the witness above who has agreed to share her story with the Oregon Bigfoot members’ community, had this to say:
“People are accepting [long-term witnesses stories] now more readily and the ridicule isn’t quite as severe. We need to begin speaking out. It isn’t just about the bigfoot… it’s about humanity and what [their existence] brings out in us. The choice of whether or not they are ‘discovered’ is being taken from them. More and more people are becoming aware of them and there are groups out there who keep chasing them and even hunting them. If someone is getting beaten up and we walk on by, we’re just as guilty. We’re complicit in what’s happening. If we don’t speak out, and if they are killed or harassed, we play a part in that with our silence.”
We are still accepting submissions for the Oregon Bigfoot Stand for Sasquatch campaign and will begin publishing them soon.
If you would like to join me in Standing for Sasquatch, please send a full-body, standing photograph of yourself, your first name and last initial, a little about yourself, your interest in the subject, and anything else you’d like to add to firstname.lastname@example.org
Witnesses, researchers and aficionados are encouraged to participate. Your submission may be thought-provoking or humorous, serious or lighthearted. You are encouraged to share your sightings or experiences, your concerns about protection and the ways in which you pledge to show respect. Your first name and last initial only will be used to identify you, unless you’d prefer to have your full name listed. You may also remain anonymous. In that case, your photo may be a silhouette and you may use a pseudonym or screen name. Submissions may be edited for spelling, grammar, clarity, brevity or appropriateness.
Since there is no organized “Save the Sasquatch” campaign to benefit, Oregon Bigfoot will donate a dollar for every published submission to The Arbor Day Foundation.
Founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance in the 19th century, The Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners.
Each dollar donated plants a tree. The Foundation plants trees in National Forests, areas ravaged by wildfires, and deforested rain forests. Over the course of 50 years, a single tree can generate $31,250 worth of air pollution control, recycle $37,500 worth of water, and control $31,500 worth of soil erosion.
You can also make a difference by matching donations made by Oregon Bigfoot to The Arbor Day Foundation. If you’d like to be a Match Partner in our Stand for Sasquatch awareness campaign, please email me.
Finally, please consider joining the Arbor Day Foundation as a member. For $10, you’ll receive 10 trees to plant in your own yard and 6 months’ worth of membership, or you can donate your 10 trees to be planted elsewhere. Your membership includes discounts from 33-56% off their tree prices (which are reasonable already) and they have a gorgeous selection of flowering trees and shrubs to choose from. Every purchase helps the Arbor Day Foundation plant more trees and your yard will look stunning. How’s that for a win-win? If you do decide to sign up for membership to the Foundation, please email me and let me know!