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Bigfoot, Big Man and Walking Sam

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 26th, 2009

Wounded Knee Map

It appears that Bigfoot activity continues to heat up, once again, among the Lakota (Sioux) in the close communities of Wounded Knee (red dot above), Pine Ridge, Eagle Butte, and other locations of the Lakota Nation (see below) in South Dakota.

This has been reinforced by a comment on the Lakota site, Thunderbutte.com.

I first reported here recently about the new 2009 incidents, during which the following footprint photograph was taken.


Image by Harriet Twiss.

According to Gloria Yellow Boy of near Wolf Creek Community building east of Pine Ridge, there was a disturbance outside of her home after dark on April 14, 2009. “The dog barked and barked that night,” she said. “‘Bigfoot’ screams sound real strange. The sound ‘gives you chills.’”

This was followed by an informative exchange with a friendly source that was there at a recent tribal council at the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in Eagle Butte, when an amazing bit of testimony was shared. This occurred on Wednesday, July 15, 2009, when a delegation from the Depts of Justice and Interior visited the local Lakota people.

One local woman asked for help in dealing with “Walking Sam.”

What transpired during the meeting was told to me in an email:

The woman, who was elderly but otherwise quite lucid, described Walking Sam as a big man in a tall hat who has appeared around the reservation and caused young people to commit suicides. She said that Walking Sam has been picked up on the police scanners, but the police have not been able to protect the community from him. She described him as a bad spirit. She wanted help from Washington D.C. with foot patrols for the tribal communities to protect them from Walking Sam.

I’m thinking that this may be a reference to Bigfoot sightings. Or, it may just be a plea for help with teen suicides that has to be translated through a cultural filter. The woman was from Red Scaffold, which is a small community on the reservation.

Frequent readers of Cryptomundo know that we have been following the reports of the Bigfoot-Sasquatch-types in this area of South Dakota for some time. The local names that I have heard are Chiye-tanka, Taku-he, Big Man, and Bigfoot. “Walking Sam” is a new one to me.

But, as some of you know, being part Eastern Band Cherokee, I have worked with many Native communities regarding teen suicides, as noted in Suicide Clusters (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987) and The Copycat Effect (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2004). The nature of “Walking Sam” becoming a symbolic icon of the trouble of adolescent suicide among the Lakota aligns spiritually with what I know and has been shared with me from the Cherokee, Shoshone, Micmac, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and other First Nations peoples on suicide prevention.

“Walking Sam” – “a big man in a tall hat” – sounds remarkably like the “Stovepipe Hat Bigfoot” that I talked about being seen among the Lakota in August 2006.

Wounded Knee Tribal Police Patch

Indeed, my first insights on this was via the direct communiques from the Chief of Police for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety – the law enforcement agency for the Pine Ridge Reservation – James Twiss, who told me on August 17, 2006:

I am passing on information regarding the rash of sightings of a tall man or Bigfoot on the Pine Ridge reservation. During one of these sightings, I had our department’s thermal imaging camera and along with about six other officers, did in fact pick up a large heat signature on the camera.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a recorder yet for the camera so we weren’t able to record it. We did watch as it moved away from us down a gully and it was missed by the other officers as they tried to find it using their flashlights. It is hard to explain as it must have already been past the officers before they arrived on scene. We watched it go into the creek area which runs through town. We heard a flurry of dogs barking but wasn’t able to locate it.

Also to set the record straight, the first two sightings was called in as a tall (10 to 15 feet tall) [man] who appeared to be wearing a stovepipe hat and long coat. It was reported to be peeking into a apartment complex commons room where there was several witnesses.

This is strange as in the early 1980’s my brother was a police officer and responded to a call with another officer in the country (35 miles north east of Pine Ridge) and when they arrived, the family was in the living room with their dogs and had turned their furniture into a fort in the living room and was armed with knives and whatever else they could find.

They advised that they had heard their dogs running into their front door and when they opened it the dogs ran in and was scared. The family reported seeing a large man (his hips was above the roof of their family car) wearing a stovepipe hat and had on a long coat. My brother and the other officer went outside where the man was reported to be and saw that the light layer of ice was broken and the mud was disturbed where something had moved towards the creek area. The family had the officers wait while they got together their belongings and had the officers escort them from the residence. This isn’t the only sighting we have here; they increase every spring and fall. – Officer James Twiss

Wounded Knee Tribal Police Patch

This was updated in 2007, with this information:

I do have some good news for you. We had [in January 2007] received 5 calls of a “large individual” causing a disturbance at a residence in the hill and pine covered area of the reservation in Wounded Knee, which is located north east of the village of Pine Ridge. My patrol partners and I have witnessed tracks measuring some 13 inches in length and 8 1/2 inches width. The first call was on the second snow fall of [January 2007].

We responded to a call of an “unknown large individual” causing a disturbance in the yard of the residence in question. The reporting party described a 7 to 8 foot tall, thick hairy man with no face and long hair as it would sway with the wind. The subject was said to take an interest in the pole yard light as it would look up at it and circle it. Their dogs were scared and hid under cars and the porch and were there upon our arrival. The family was so scared that we transported them to relatives in Pine Ridge.

We carry individual tape recorders in our units and pockets, and have recorded a yelling or scream. We also now carry digital cameras with some intresting pictures of prints with Tribal units and officers in the background as we were investigating. Tribal Police Officer, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

Here is a summary of various bits of information that appear to apply to all of this activity:

Timeline: Oglala Lakota Sioux Encounters with Chiye-tanka (Bigfoot) at Pine Ridge

Ancient to Present: Chiye-tanka or The Big Man is mentioned, including references by anthropologists and journalists in works about the Lakota, e.g. In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Mathiessen (NY: Viking, 1980).

“There is your Big man standing there, ever waiting, ever present, like the coming of a new day,” Oglala Lakota Medicine Man Pete Catches told Mathiessen. “He is both spirit and real being, but he can also glide through the forest, like a moose with big antlers, as though the trees weren’t there… I know him as my brother… I want him to touch me, just a touch, a blessing, something I could bring home to my sons and grandchildren, that I was there, that I approached him, and he touched me.”

1977: Little Eagle, South Dakota Sioux have encounters with Bigfoot, also called locally Taku-he.

See chronology/summary of the 28 sightings here, and a few more details here.

1990s: During frequent visitations by one (?) Bigfoot, reportedly 7-9 feet tall, it leaves footprints that are 18 inches long, 7 inches wide.

2005: Locals see Bigfoot.

Late July 2006: Eyewitnesses see Bigfoot peering into windows on the reservation.

July 28, 2006: 11:30 pm – People again view Bigfoot looking into windows. Bigfoot are said to be as tall as the gutters on buildings.

July 29-30, 2006: Overnight – Bigfoot’s eyeshine appears in police unit’s headlights. Police see Bigfoot. Police insiders send report to Loren Coleman.

August 1, 2006: 2:00-2:30 am – Woman reports dogs barking, bad odor nearby. Police officer responses and sights Bigfoot.

August 1, 2006: Alleged night of the shooting of Bigfoot occurs near the Slim Buttes area. Rumor says that several medicine men including Wilmer Mesteth, Oliver Red Cloud and Tom (?) Janis are invited by the police, smudge the body with burning sage and cedar, and give prayers. Body is wrapped up and taken to the lab at the School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City. Definite rumor; probable hoax or prank story.

August 4, 2006: Night – Several young women see Bigfoot.

August 6, 2006: 1:20-1:55 am – Near Oliver Red Cloud’s home, a woman reports a “tall, dark, smelly, hairy man” (Bigfoot) on the road. Police arrive, dogs give chase, and return scared.

August 11, 2006: Donovan Lone Hill records Pine Ridge Reservation law enforcement scanner exchange of the sighting of a Big Man/Bigfoot.

August 12, 2006: A woman sees something “tall and dark” going behind the post office in Kyle, South Dakota, which is 45 to 50 miles northeast of Pine Ridge. It is also observed by a radio tower transmitter west of Kyle on a hilltop.

August 17, 2006: James Twiss, police chief officer on the Pine Ridge Reservation passes on information regarding the rash of sightings of a tall man or Bigfoot on the Pine Ridge reservation to Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo. Claims the Bigfoot are being seen on DEA thermal dashboard devices, but the tribal police do not have the ability to record the heat-signature images because of their budget has not allowed purchase of the recorders, during further conversations with Coleman.

December 2006: The Pine Ridge story is named one of the “Top Bigfoot Stories of 2006.”

January 2007: At Wounded Knee, a few miles from Pine Ridge, a new wave of activity begins. There are finds of footprints in freshly fallen snow, and at least five sightings describe a 7-8 ft tall, thick hairy man with no face and long hair swaying with the wind. One reported Bigfoot takes a special interest in a pole yard light at night, being seen near it, looking up and going round and round it. Dogs being disturbed is common again, and a Bigfoot’s scream is heard in association with the sightings.

April 2007: Update.

Below is the artist Harry Trumbore’s illustration from The Field Guide of Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (p. 45) of Pitt Lake, BC’s "Sasquatch" seen in June 1965. Please note how the head might resemble a flattop hat from a distance.

Pitt Lake Giant

Loren Coleman – has written 5491 posts on this site.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


10 Responses to “Bigfoot, Big Man and Walking Sam”

  1. springheeledjack responds:

    Definitely lots of sightings to make me think of BF. Not sure what to think about the “walking sam” incidents. Some large person wearing a coat and stovepipe hat…sounds more Fortean…that or “spirit” related.

    Am curious to see if there is more relating BF and “walking sam”.

    Unless Abraham Lincoln’s death was a cover-up and he’s an escaped alien, creeping around South Dakota…

  2. Fhqwhgads responds:

    A “spiritual” bigfoot in a top hat sounds like it might be related to one of the most commonly reported “shadow people”, the hat man. This would make the sightings more paranormal than cryptozoological.

  3. Radical Dreamer responds:

    Great Article! This is something that I need to know! I am an avid Cryptomundo reader and I only post every once in a great while. But I have to say that this is something I feel I can use, as an amateur Cryptid hunter. I am a film student, and I live in South Dakota, and I find it wonderful to finally see some information about sightings near me. There never seems to be very much information about sightings in this state, it is almost as if they get lost. I love to see them talked about.

  4. cryptidsrus responds:

    Could this be a kind of Wendigo???

    Just wondering.

    Because it DOES indeed sound paranormal.

  5. James1207 responds:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I’ve lived in SD for the last 40 years and I’ve seen some strange things. About 5 years ago I was looking for fossils on the Cheyenne reservation. I was walking through willows about 10 to 15 foot tall coming down to the water. Suddenly I was sure I was being followed, totally certain of it. I can’t say I saw or heard anything, but I had no doubt someone or something was there. I did notice there were no bird sounds where moments before I had heard birds. I made my way back to my car, glad to get away from what ever wanted me “gone.” Some of it is undoubtably what we would label “paranormal,” but the Native Americans have been close to it for generations. We would be wise to listen to them with an open mind.

  6. odingirl responds:

    I realize there have been other reports of sasquatch wearing articles of clothing, but I had the same impression as Fhqwhgads….this reminds me more of a variation of ‘Hat Man’, perhaps one seen through the cultural lens of First Nations people. A sasquatch-Hat Man hybrid is certainly a very fascinating thing and Cryptidsrus is also right in pointing out that such a thing might fit the criteria for a kind of Wendigo as well. Wow….I find myself hoping that Radical Dreamer gets out there with a film crew and makes a documentary. It would be great on so many levels – cryptozoology, paranormal, cultural anthropology and folklore….

  7. Dib responds:

    Walking Sam + Tall man with tall hat = Uncle Sam (?)

    Considering the history of the Lakotah, an ominous figure indeed.

  8. bigfootsdad responds:

    “She said that Walking Sam has been picked up on the police scanners…” I am not sure what she meant by this. This seems to indicate communication on a two-way radio. What is going on?!

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    Bigfootsdad wrote: “This seems to indicate communication on a two-way radio. What is going on?!”

    Please read all the way to the end of the posting, through the timeline. The Lakota woman is referring, by the use of the words “police scanners,” to the tribal police’s thermal imaging readings on their dashboard-mounted “scanners.”

  10. thunderbutte responds:

    The woman who mentioned Walking Sam was from Red Scaffold, a poor and relatively remote reservation community. I’ve spoken with an off-reservation law enforcement officer and emergency services manager in a nearby town who has heard of Walking Sam because he knows many of the people in Red Scaffold. He runs ambulances down there because he’s closer than the Indian Health Service ambulances that run out of Eagle Butte. I didn’t ask him what he thought of the story or whether he related the story to Bigfoot sightings. But, he had a great deal of respect for people in Red Scaffold and didn’t dismiss their fears.



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