J. Robert Alley, |
Raincoast Sasquatch: The Bigfoot/Sasquatch Records of Southeast Alaska, Coastal British Columbia & Northwest Washington from Puget Sound to Yakutat
(Hancock House, 2003)
Open this cover and enter the fascinating world of the kushtakaas, gagiit, gyaedem ryaldo, ba'oosh, boq, bukw, pukw, dsonoqua, atlakwis, pkw, k'a'waq'a, dzonoq'wa, buk'wus, mai-a-tlatl, matlox, pokmis, cacuuqhsta, squee'noos, papay'oos, kwai-a-tlatlqelqelitl, suhsq'uhtch, c'amek'wes and c'iatqo. If you prefer the more common English name to these indigenous names, you may call it the sasquatch or bigfoot.
Raincoast Sasquatch is the bigfoot equivalent of In Search of Ogopogo. The author, J. Robert Alley, has devoted roughly three decades to collecting evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses and following up leads and has become a leading authority on the creature.
But this book adds another dimension to the coverage -- it gets deep into the native folklore surrounding the creature. It is the most in-depth coverage of indigenous folklore about the creature that I found in one volume to date.
I love the way Alley provides verbatim accounts of the creatures from natives, follows with a section on the beliefs of each of the tribes found within the covered region and concludes the section with his summation of the information. He includes an excellent table of cross-cultural traits that allows you to quickly compare what the natives believe about the creature. For instance, of the 14 tribes, five believe the creature steals souls and 10 believe it whistles.
Roughly two-thirds of the book consists of fast-paced, action-filled eyewitness accounts. The thing that is most striking about these accounts is that in several, bigfoot seems to be acting as a protector of the wildlife in the forest. I have not encountered this in other books and found it intriguing.
Alley has an energetic, enthusiastic storyteller style of writing that keeps you immersed in his story to the very end. When he can, he uses the direct words of the person he interviewed. This works really well to bring variety and regional/tribal dialects into his manuscript. He pulls it all together with the polish of a professional writer.
When you get this book, plan to spend some time looking at the photographs, illustrations, maps and diagrams before reading. The author is an accomplished illustrator, at least of bigfoot and the things associated with the creature. His book is lavishly illustrated and has numerous photographs, including full-color glossies.
Be sure to study the "Field Guide to the Pacific Coastal Sasquatch." It will prepare you to recognize the creature, its habitat and its lifestyle signs. It describes all known aspects of the creature's daily, seasonal and life-stage activities and physical characteristics. There are also appendices for the reports of sasquatch encounters for southeast Alaska since 1900 and coastal British Columbia since 1884 and a bibliography for further reading on the subject.
In comparison to Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence by Dr. Grover S. Krantz, Raincoast Sasquatch is more like a friendly chat with several persons from the region. It does not get into the scientific side of things like the other, but is a better reference for the beliefs of the indigenous peoples of the area. A serious follower of bigfoot research and phenomena should own both.
Raincoast Sasquatch will keep you turning the pages and driving forward to the last page. You will want to read this one again. It is a definite keeper.