A predominant figure in the Four Corners, with merchandise and tales centered around its mysterious figure behind the brush, Sasquatch not only holds a place in the communities surrounding the region but also the Indigenous tribes spanning across the United States.
Sasquatch, also referred to as Bigfoot, walks the line between cultural beliefs and community phenomenon. This is ever so present in the traditions and tales of the Navajo people.
In Navajo culture, Bigfoot stems from the monsterslayer stories, Bertha Elkriver, traditional cultural leader at Teec Nos Pos day school in Arizona, said.
The monsterslayer stories detail how the gods in the Navajo culture left seven monsters who were meant to teach the Navajo people lessons about how to live properly, Elkriver explained.
Death, jealousy, hunger, warmth, lice, poverty and death are these monsters, she said.
Elkriver said Sasquatch is what the elders refer to as yei’iitsoh. This translates to monster in the Navajo language. The root word, ye’ii, translates as God or giant powerful being, she said.
Because of this translation, Elkriver associates Sasquatch with the seven monsters that come from the monsterslayer stories.
For Elkriver, there is no such thing as Sasquatch and her beliefs come from the teachings that also disregard the existence of Bigfoot.
Elkriver grew up traditionally Navajo and regards sasquatch as a mythical nonexistent being.
Just as the monsterslayers ate off the people, the speaking of Bigfoot can do the same, she said she believes.
“When you talk about it, it grows,” she said.
For that reason, Elkriver denies the creature’s existence, she said.
The Phenomenon on Native Lands
Brenda Harris, Bigfoot believer, has had similar encounters with elders in the Navajo traditions, she said. Elders advise to leave the creature alone both physically and verbally. It is evil and does no good, she said.
Despite the contradictions of the Navajo beliefs, Harris is the founder of present-day Bigfoot organization, Shadowseekers, she said.
An early summer morning broadcast on KTNN confused 7-year-old Brenda Harris while she and her family drove to Pinon, Arizona, she said. Harris laid quietly alongside her brothers and sisters in the family truck camper while they drove to their grandma’s house. The broadcast, “Stay away from the San Juan River. There’s a monster down there.”
‘Monster? What did this mean?’ Harris said she remembers thinking.
It wouldn’t be until years later that Harris would understand the phenomenon of Sasquatch, she said.
Through the film, The Legend of Boggy Creek and what she believes to be a personal encounter with a Sasquatch, Harris said she began to believe in the mysterious creature.
Shawdowseekers was founded in 2011 by Harris and her son, after hearing reports of Sasquatch activity around the New Mexico area, she said.
What started as curiosity has grown into a large following within the communities surrounding the Four Corners region, with reports of activity spanning across the United States, she said.
Harris said reports usually come in as emails, phone calls and mentions on the groups’ Facebook page. These reports include describing Bigfoot’s activity as yells, screaming and property damage within the Four Corners area, she said.
There is a spike in reports during the fall and winter season, she said.
Reports of loud yelling or screaming will occur in the night time from 10:00 p.m to 4:00 a.m, Harris said.
Felipe Mandoza, member of another Bigfoot group called Squatch Dogs, said a Bigfoot encounter allegedly became aggressive when the creature started throwing tree branches and rocks at their group.
The appearance of Bigfoot, according to the reports that Harris receives, can vary from muscular to scraggly, with hair that is known to be black or brown. The creature has been described in reports as ranging from seven to nine feet tall, she said.
The speed of Sasquatch is another report Harris said she gets. Reports include the creature running very fast, either on its two feet or on all four, Harris said.
For now, Harris and a group of people work together to answer calls and reports to discover new information regarding the mysterious creature that continues to stalk the Four Corners, she said.
Bigfoot Believers at FLC
At Fort Lewis College, two Navajo students weighed in on their Bigfoot beliefs.
Shakira Crvantes, freshman, is in between her beliefs, she said. Crvantes identifies as Navajo and has only seen documentaries about the creature.
Kayla Askan, freshman, believes in Bigfoot and recalls an alleged encounter her grandma’s sister had while herding sheep dating back to the 1940’s.
Askan said that she has heard reports of Bigfoot that involve the silence of birds chirping when the creature appears, she said.