Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

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Monday, 6 April 2009

NORTH AMERICA'S ELUSIVE BABYFEET – Part 1.

A North American littlefoot or babyfoot (Tim Morris)


Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;

William Allingham – The Fairies
Most people will know of North America's giant mystery man-beast, the bigfoot, but far fewer will be familiar with this continent's diverse array of mysterious mini-humanoids, colloquially labelled ‘littlefeet’ or 'babyfeet'. This is a great tragedy, because these diminutive denizens, which appear to have been particularly abundant in the Pacific Northwest, may conceivably be something more than primitive pygmies or physiological dwarves, as they sometimes exhibit characteristics variously associated with the Little People and extraterrestrial visitors.

THE BABYFEET OF OREGON

Take, for instance, the still-unexplained events featuring Bud Darcor and his younger brother that occurred during a weekend in 1944 while they were deer hunting near the Bly Mountain Lookout in Oregon. They had been gazing out over the surrounding forest from the lofty lookout tower when a bright ball of light suddenly appeared in the sky and flew towards a tableland close by, apparently descending upon a mountain about two miles away. Very curious to learn more about this unheralded skyborne visitor, during the following day the two brothers trekked to the location where the object seemed to have landed, and there in a clearing they discovered a burnt patch of ground measuring roughly 30 ft in diameter.

After examining this patch, they began to journey back to the lookout tower, but during their trek they were very surprised to espy some extraordinary footprints in the pumice dust of the road. These tracks crossed the road, progressed up the roadcut bank, and then paused, at which point the unmistakeable impression left by someone sitting down in the dust could be readily discerned. What made these tracks so unusual, however, was their size, each measuring no more than 4.5 in long, with the 'buttocks' impression about 6 in across.

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this curious case, however, was still to come. After they had preserved the tracks for future inspection by placing a wooden board over them, the Darcor brothers sought the opinion of a local Forest Service officer and also a government representative. Yet according to the Darcors, the forestry officer preferred to pretend that nothing had been found, whereas the government representative suggested that the tracks' unseen creator may have been a monkey that had fallen out of an aeroplane!

In fact, these tracks were merely another series in a long list of similar discoveries made over many years in Oregon, and which, in the firm belief of this U.S. State's native American tribes, are left behind by an ancient race of dwarf-like beings with supernatural powers. Needless to say, this all sounds like just another version of the worldwide legends appertaining to the existence of fairies or Little People - were it not for the undeniable if inexplicable reality of what are popularly referred to in Oregon as 'babyfoot' tracks.

Indeed, these mysterious entities have even inspired the naming of Baby Rock in Oregon's Lane County, as well as Babyfoot Creek and Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, Curry County, Oregon. As recently as 12 February 1992, The Track Record published an account documenting Thomas C. Pitka's discovery of many babyfoot tracks, each a mere 6 in long and bare-footed, around the Green Point Upper Reservoir, southwest of Oregon's Hood River, and others will no doubt continue to be recorded in the future.

Different native tribes in Oregon have different names for the elusive babyfeet, but it is evident that they are referring to the same entities - and often associate them with lights in the sky (including, in some instances, the northern lights). One of the most significant sources of information concerning them is Henry James Franzoni's fascinating book Legends Beyond Psychology, which documents the babyfoot lore of several tribes in this State.

The Tenino (Warm Springs Sahaptin) Indians, for instance, who inhabited part of the Columbia River's south bank in northern central Oregon, have longstanding traditions regarding the mountain-inhabiting 'ground people' or Pah-ho-ho-klah. The Tenino claim that these beings are themselves Indians, wearing buckskin clothes and braided hair, but are much smaller in size, hunt at night with bow and arrows, and call to one other using birdsong. They also possess the formidable power to drive any human crazy who answers or pursues them, and humans who encounter them often discover afterwards that they have unaccountably 'lost' several days.

Sounds familiar?

Diminutive, nocturnal dwarves communicating via birdsong, inducing madness in those who behold them, and linked with lost periods of time also feature in the lore of the Yakama Indians from Oregon's Cascade Mountains. Here they are termed the Te-chum' mah, and are said to inhabit these mountains' more heavily-timbered summits and peaks - particularly in the region bordering Lake Keechelas, about 35 miles north-northeast of Mount Rainier in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. They are also claimed to live around Fish Lake, which lies roughly 4 miles southwest of the Goat Rocks Wilderness's southeast boundary, in the Wenatchee National Forest, and is contained within the Yakama Indian Reservation.

Among Oregon's most intriguing iconographical enigmas are the rock-paintings known to the Yakama Indians as Schop-tash and Puh-tuh num (this latter is now destroyed), depicted on high cliff faces in the Naches Gap near Yakama itself, and which this region's eponymous native tribe claim were there long before they themselves first arrived here. According to the Yakama, these pictographs are the work of a mysterious, cliff-inhabiting race of dwarf-like beings, only 2 ft high and wearing rabbit-skin robes, which they call the Wah'-tee-tas (translated as 'animal people' or 'ancient people'), and are seen only at twilight or dawn.

Oregon's Klamath Indians, who formerly occupied the Klamath Lake and River region speak of several different types of mini-humanoid, which, like so many accounts of Little People, seem to inhabit an intermediate reality that periodically impinges upon our own. The Teakiak'k resemble young boys but are no bigger than babies, with long hair that hangs down their back to waist level. They do not wear clothes, but wooden images of these entities carved by Klamath shamans are decorated with red feathers (from the red-shafted flicker woodpecker) around their neck. There are also the Goga'ne, which are male dwarves with baby-sized footprints, and are allegedly most common amid the Cascade Mountains. These snow-clad slopes are home too to the Na'hnias, once again leaving tiny footprints.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN DWARVES

Another valuable source of data concerning New World pygmies is Ella E. Clark's Indian Legends From the Rockies (1977), documenting lore from several Rocky Mountain tribes.

According to the Flathead Indians, the first inhabitants of their territory in northern Montana were a race of 3-ft-tall dwarves, with very dark skin, and a well-developed civilisation. After the Flatheads' arrival, however, the dwarves retreated ever further into the mountains, where they largely died out. Those few that survived became primarily nocturnal, sleeping in old mountain craters during the day. Eventually they became somewhat mythicised by the Flatheads, who began to attribute supernatural powers to these diminutive beings.

The Coeur d'Alenes and the Spokane Indians of Washington State share traditions of dwarf-like entities, many of whom reputedly once lived in the extremely dense forests and undergrowth that formerly encircled Rosebud Lake. Dressed in brown or red apparel with pointed caps, they were very adept at clambering up and down trees, always climbing head first. At night, their wailing cries would sometimes awaken their Indian neighbours, and like Little People everywhere they delighted in playing mischievous tricks upon unwary humans. A different race of dwarves indigenous to this region once lived in great numbers in cliffs and rocky mountainous retreats, and dressed in squirrel skins. The size of small boys, they hunted with bows and arrows, and enjoyed luring Indian hunters onto the wrong paths.

The Nez Percé‚ Indians of the North West still speak of a race of dwarves known to them as the Its'te-ya-ha or Stick Indians. Dressed in deerskin, with long hair, small eyes, and wrinkled skin, these gnome-like entities inhabited the deep woodlands. They were said to be disproportionately strong relative to their small stature, and were reputedly fond of abducting calves and other livestock of Indians and white settlers alike. According to Lucy Armstrong Isaac, one of Ella Clark's sources of information regarding these beings, her great grandfather once found a dead Stick Indian, resembling a tiny boy, lying on a flat rock.

SHOSHONE TRADITIONS

The Shoshone Indians formerly frequenting western Wyoming, central and southern Idaho, northeastern Nevada, and western Utah have many traditions of dwarf-like humanoids.

The strong, fearless Ninnimbe or Nimerigar of Wyoming, for instance, were claimed to be 2-3 ft tall, garbed in goatskin clothes, and very adroit hunters. They always carried a large quiver of poisoned arrows on their back, which claimed the lives of many Shoshones when they first entered these dwarves' territory. However, the Ninnimbe were themselves vulnerable, as they were frequently preyed upon by eagles, which could easily snatch up these small beings off the ground and carry them away. Like the Wah'-tee-tas in Oregon, the Ninnimbe were deemed responsible for the pictographs on the rocks in Wind River County. Similar beings were also believed in by the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and the Dakota Sioux.

According to the Shoshone, the cave-inhabiting dwarves that supposedly existed at one time in the mountains of Salmon River County and parts of the Owyhee Range in Idaho were cannibals, who thought nothing of abducting and devouring the babies of unwary Indian mothers, then substituting themselves in best changeling tradition. Despite standing a mere 2 ft high, these dwarves were said to be very strong, and wore no clothes, even in the winter; their women, conversely, dressed themselves in skins obtained from deer or mountain sheep killed by the male dwarves using their bows and arrows. Primarily nocturnal, these beings could often be heard singing loudly at night, on cliffs and rocky peaks.

White buffaloes - i.e. albino bison - are held in very high esteem by many Amerindian tribes throughout North America, who venerate them as the sacred property of the sun, and value their creamy pelts as exceedingly potent symbols of power. Having said that, although white buffaloes are therefore linked intimately with the magical and mystical facets of humanity, there is one little-known incident on record that even by these animals' standards is decidedly mystifying. As publicised in Coral E. Lorenzen's book The Shadow of the Unknown (1970), it features a party of Shoshone braves who encountered a herd of buffaloes and killed four of them - one of which was a pure-white calf.

Suddenly, without any prior warning, a troupe of extraordinary little men appeared, surrounding the astonished braves and screaming loudly at them. Unnerved by their antagonists' unexpected appearance (in every sense of the word!), the braves decided to flee to a nearby rocky promontory to use as cover, but their plan was not necessary. One of the braves picked up the carcase of the young white buffalo, swinging it around his head as he did so - at which point the tiny men screamed with fear and raced away.

Recognising its potential, the braves skinned the carcase and stuffed its skin to make it look as if it were still a living calf. Ever afterwards, they took this strange artefact with them on their hunting trips, and although they sometimes saw these mysterious little people, they were never attacked again. For as soon as they appeared, one of the braves would swing the stuffed skin over his head, and the pygmies would flee in terror.

To be continued... (click here)

21 comments:

  1. As someone who grew up in the Blackfoot culture of southern Alberta I’d agree there’s something to these stories. I know the Cree and Blackfoot peoples have stories of little people who live in the forest and that you’re not supposed to talk badly of them or mention them to outsiders. My impression was that they have magic and can be very mean and capricious, or if lucky enough to befriend them they can help.

    Once as a teen while camped out at a pow wow, a friend and I passed the time cracking jokes at the stupidity of the little people myth. Within four hours, and having gone our separate ways, we both came down with a flu type illness and spent the rest of the pow wow sick in our families tee pees. I vowed never to bad mouth them again (real or imagined).

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  2. Interesting article I have read some local stories that are similar to these. I wonder if there will be a continuation that involves the Puk-Wud-Jies or Puk-wud-ies in Indiana?

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  3. Another interesting thing to look into is the myth of the "Si-Tec-Ah" (my spelling might be wrong) which was a supposed race of large, red-haired giants that once lived on an island in Pyramid Lake, Nevada. Supposedly a small museum in Northern Nevada once (or still does) housed a skull of one of these giants.

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  4. Interesting comments, Anonymous...

    Glad to see fairy-type beings are not confined to Celtic countries, Shuker. I would particularly love to see you do something on the "fairy"-type creatures in Africa. They come from a folklore that is VASTLY undereported. Hawaii also is supposedly crawling with them. As well as Iceland, Russia and India.

    What is funny about this is that the famous "Dover Demon" case in Massachusetts from thiry-plus years ago is thought by some to be not an alien but a type of river TROLL known by the Cree Indians as a "Manneghishi." The description of the cryptid certainly fits the traditional description of a Manneghishi given by the Cree.

    There have also been reports of gnome-like, hairy little people in "A" mountain near Tucson, Arizona. Ightings of these beings and strange lights have been reported for decades.
    Little people overall figure in countless reports about underground civilizations and cities underneath the U.S.

    Great subject overall, Karl.

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  5. Another interesting angle on this is the similarity and downright overlapping between sightings like these and UFO and Sasquatch reports. Partiucularly Sasquatch. Looks like everything is inter-connected to everything else---maybe they're all inter-dimensional beings???
    There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio...
    Indeed. :)

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  6. Hi everyone, Glad you all like this article - the subject is one that has long fascinated me. I've already written Part 2, and the Dover Demon-manneghishi link is indeed discussed by me there. So too is one of my all-time favourite mystery humanoids, the Wyoming mini-mummy. I'd very much like to know where that is. All the best, Karl

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  7. Fantastic article!

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  8. Great article - wish I could read part 2!

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  9. Wow interesting! I am a huge history buff and just learned some great history that I wasn't aware of until reading "Cannibalism, Headhunting and Human Sacrifice in North America" by George Feldman. I would love to hear more about 'little feet-' I had no idea until tonight that such a species might have existed.

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  10. In Brittany there are old stories of small hairy creatures called fions and farfadets, who lived in caves and apparently could fly.
    The littlefeet phenomenon deserves wider attention, particularly as there is so much hard evidence:- there aren't that many strange creatures of whom preserved bodies have been found!

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  11. I heard similar stories from an good friend who is a member of a Northern Arizona Indian tribe I will not name. He told me his grandfather had told him the stories of the little people who used to be all around but now lived in a certain mountain area. He went there alone while a teenager and felt he had contact from them. He swore they are real and are still there, but only for those they want to contact. There purpose is to teach, but only to those who can hear. Somewhat similar to the leprechaun stories I had heard. I believe he really was serious and was convinced they were real. Perhaps they are from another dimension and perhaps they are physical in our world and just really good at hiding and sensing approaching danger. Perhaps the "hobbit" bones now labeled Homo floresiensis are the first physical evidence of a species of little people that actually exists or existed all over the globe. Certainly the legends are global.

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  12. Thanks for all your great comments, and I was particularly interested to learn of the Brittany fions and farfadets, which were new to me. All the best, Karl

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  13. The fions and farfadets are mentioned in "Backyard Bigfoot" by Lisa A Shiel, with forewordby Nick Redfern, Slipdown Mountain Publications(got my copy from Amazon). e.g. p15, sadly no index.Glad that was useful!

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  14. My dad had a very similar experience when he was in Boy Scouts in the late 40's. His troop was camped 20 miles from the nearest road on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. They saw a bright light come down on a mountain top across the valley, then zoom away at an impossibly high rate of speed. The next day they went to see what it was all about and found a large circle burned in the ground.

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  15. DR SHUKER,
    WONDERFUL READ, ON YOUR PART 1. I AM LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE LTTLE PEOPLE, AT THE TIME MY FICTION NOVEL IS SADELY LACKING ON TRUE INFORMATION ABOUT IT'S TE-YA-HA AS THEY ARE FEATURED IN MY BOOK, I NEED TO KEEP AS MUCH MYTH AS POSSABLE OUT OF THE WRITING AND STAY AS CLOSE TO POSSABLE TO WHAT FACTS ARE AVAILABLE ABOUT THE LITTLE PEOPLE. ANY SUGGESTIONS TO RESEARCH WOULD BE INVALUABLE,,, THANK YOU

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  16. I know a place in Saskatchewan that has "little People" in a house its on a "reserve" im Soulteux by decent from my up bringings these beings are very real and very Mischevious and apparently they like sugar my grand mother use too leave them out a bowl of sugar and there use to be little fingers in the bowl..

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  17. Hi Ryan, Thanks very much for this info - very intriguing. There is undoubtedly a great deal of fascinating littlefoot info out there like this that has never been published, so it's great to receive it. I wonder if any living littlefeet have ever been photographed?
    Good to hear of your novel, Bill, but bare facts without accompanying traditional lore re the littlefeet is rather sparse, as these entities have received far less attention than the bigfoot. In fact, my blog here probably has much more littlefoot info in one place than most sources.
    All the best, Karl

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  18. I tried looking up numerous related sources on the internet but couldn't find any. Not a single sighting report, nor experience report, or anything. Aside from this blog, and a view links to your blog, to me these things don't exist.

    Where can I go, what can I do, in order to get some more information on this subject? It doesn't seem real worth it.

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  19. Hi Anonymous of 1 March 2011: I was surprised to read that you couldn't fnd any internet sources re the entities that I've documented here. I've just tried, and have found plenty! See, for instance, http://www.google.co.uk/#sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=off&site=&source=hp&q=Pah-ho-ho-klah&btnG=Google+Search&aq=&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&fp=509d2dfe84fa2be4 for references re the Pah-ho-ho-klah; see http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&xhr=t&q=Wah'-tee-tas&cp=12&pf=p&sclient=psy&safe=off&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=Wah'-tee-tas&pbx=1&fp=1d1123905e79d67a&bs=1 for the Wah'-tee-tas; see http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&xhr=t&q=nimerigar&cp=8&pf=p&sclient=psy&safe=off&aq=0&aqi=&aql=&oq=nimeriga&pbx=1&fp=509d2dfe84fa2be4 for the nimerigar, etc etc.
    All the best, Karl

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  20. One can never truly envision the wonders unseen in the earth, on it's surface and above. Who knows what may rest directly under our feet, and what may have for a thousand years and more. Mankind will always be surprised and awed by this world. Earth is a truly incredible place, one we know next to nothing about. Who needs sci fi when we still have an incredible world to explore and so much to discover? I guess thats what your job is all about.

    Thank you, Dr. Shuker for enlightening the mystery of the littlefeet. I am sure you will always find something to post on here, one of an endless sea of mysteries that still fills our life. It's beautiful to know we still have so much to discover. Your blog has helped to spark curiosity, one of mankinds greatest atributes and weaknesses, and thank you for that.

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