(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)
Episode 1 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “The Nature of Bigfoot” and delves into the history and legend of the Sasquatch. While Bigfoot enthusiasts will likely know most of what the episode covers, I certainly learned a couple of interesting tidbits of Bigfoot lore.
Not to be confused with Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, Mill Creek Entertainment’s Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is a documentary with five episodes of Season 1 streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s not following the adventures of hunters but rather is focused on examining the history of reported encounters and the phenomenon of Bigfoot. Episodes are only 24 minutes long and move along at a brisk pace.
Episode 1 features interviews with a number of Bigfoot researchers, including the usual players like wildlife researcher Doug Hajicek, Finding Bigfoot field researcher Cliff Barackman, and primatologist Esteban Sarmiento.
The interviews are mostly speculation and don’t reveal any earth-shattering insight.
For example, Hajicek estimates a minimum of 4,000 Bigfoots roams North America. Barackman says Bigfoot is a species of higher primate up to 9 feet tall. Sarmiento says if Bigfoot exists, it likely migrated from Asia across the Bering land bridge and has the same distribution as other animals that crossed the Bering Strait from Asia.
Okay. Those guesses are as good as any. After all, who can prove them right or wrong?
I was more interested in the accounts of history reported by the documentary, which are mostly well known to Bigfoot enthusiasts.
For example, Bigfoot first showed up in North America via the rock art and folklore of Native Americans.
The documentary also speculates Bigfoot could be a relative of prehistoric ape Gigantopithecus, citing fossil records and examination of scat.
The first report of Bigfoot by a white man happened in 1811 in Jasper, an alpine town in Alberta, Canada. A trader named David Thompson reported footprints 14 inches long and 8 inches wide in the snow.
The term Bigfoot was first used in a Humboldt Times newspaper report about Jerry Crew finding 16-inch long footprints at a construction site in California. However, after the construction company owner died, his family revealed it was a hoax.
But Bigfoot was born forever into pop culture.
Despite the hoaxes, the hundreds of Bigfoot reports over the years are seemingly credible enough to keep researchers interested in the cryptid.
Based on all the sightings and evidence, some researchers think Bigfoot’s appearance is somewhere between an adult gorilla and a human being, and the cryptid is shy and nomadic, living in small family groups that have spread all across North America.
However, the speculation is all over the map. The most interesting parts of the interviews are when researchers talk about Bigfoot’s lifestyle.
For example, British Columbia investigator John Kirk said one report indicates Bigfoot sleeps facedown with his hands tucked under his head and butt in the air. Huh?
“We don’t know where they go to die,” Kirk said, addressing the mystery of why no dead bodies have ever been found.
The documentary addresses other questions like the nocturnal-versus-diurnal debate and whether Bigfoot is dangerous to humans.
The final six minutes of the documentary briefly discuss the other possibilities of Bigfoot’s nature.
For example, some say Cain, the one from the Bible who killed his brother Abel and was doomed to a life of wandering, could be the first Bigfoot. Others say Bigfoot is extraterrestrial. And there’s a paranormal contingent who believes Bigfoot perhaps travels interdimensionally through portals.
Rockies Bigfoot researcher Michael Johnson puts a lot of stock in the stories of the Native Americans.
“The Lakota Sioux call Bigfoot chiye tanka, and I love that name,” Johnson says. “They’re not calling Bigfoot an animal. They’re calling Bigfoot their brother. I think it tells us to a certain degree that Bigfoot isn’t necessarily an animal, but it may be a type of people.”
Many tribes of North America describe a giant, hairy creature who dwells in the forest, sometimes possessing supernatural powers. Johnson cites a Miwok Indian saying, which alludes to either the spiritual or the supernatural aspect of Bigfoot.
“The Miwok Indians say wherever Sasquatch walks, a lantern follows,” Johnson says. “We’ve seen this light phenomenon when they’re around. I think that’s what the Miwok Indians of Yosemite Valley were talking about.”
Native American Sasquatch investigator Winona Kirk says an elder told her a story that Sasquatch takes children who are ill but returns them healthy.
Overall, “The Nature of Bigfoot” is an effective introduction to Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth and a quick refresher course on Bigfoot’s history.
Bonus: You get to hear a recording of an eerie vocalization that could possibly be a Bigfoot, which made the whole episode worth my time.
NEXT UP: Chapter Eleven: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 2 in the 2015 documentary series Chasing Bigfoot titled “Bigfoot Encounters.”