Posted by: John Kirk on July 29th, 2006
Sometimes I wonder just how true some of the stories that are introduced into the realm of cryptozoology really are. Just how much of this stuff is fact and just how much is urban legend, pure myth or deliberate fabrication. Tonight I was sitting around reading Mary Moon’s fine book Ogopogo. Mary was the first author to pen a volume about the denizen of Okanagan Lake and it really is a good read and scientific in its overview.
Although the book is primarily about water cryptids, there are some stories about other strange beings such as the little people who are said to have once lived in the waters of Okanagan Lake. From the descriptions gathered, it would appear that the little people are possibly a pod of manatees that some how entered Okanagan Lake from the Columbia river system before it was all dammed up in the 1920’s. I know manatees are supposed to flourish only in the Florida waterways and not on the west coast of North America, but it is possible that some strayed out to sea and ended up in the lake for a short period of time when they were noticed by the local aboriginal peoples. The other possibility that the little people were a smaller variety of Steller’s sea cow has also been espoused. I don’t know what the little people were, but I do not think they were actual little human beings with an aquatic bent.
My intention is not to digress too far from what I really want to discuss, so let’s get back on track. Another strange Okanagan valley cryptid Moon wrote of was the Stenwyken or sasquatch as it is known in other parts of British Columbia. Moon tells of the story obtained published in 1962 by Okanagan historian Hester White and related by a native called Suswap, about a northern Okanagan First Nations tribe who lost one of their female members for three years under mysterious circumstances. The missing woman suddenly showed up one day and told her people an absolutely incredible tale. She recounted that Stenwyken had kidnapped her, sealed her eyes with pitch and held her in a cave. This lass cohabited with Stenwyken and even bore it a Stenwyken child which died shortly after birth. This sad event precipitated a sort of Stenwyken divorce as the hairy manbeast once again covered her eyes with pitch and left her in a spot near the camp of her people.
While I was reading this, I had an extraordinary sense of déjà vu. Where the heck had I seen this story in another context and location? After a short period of intense brain racking, it the dawned on me that I had seen the same sort of story before in an article written by John W. Burns – the man who brought the word Sasquatch to the attention of the non-native world – in 1929. I actually commented on this occurrence once before right here at Cryptomundo.com.
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Image Credit: Rene’ Dahinden
As readers may recall, Burns recorded the narrative of one Seraphine Long whose story is identical to the story of the girl who was swept away by the Stenwyken. From what I could gather from Moon’s book, the Stenwyken abduction of the girl is a very old story and would appear to predate the Seraphine Long story which took place at the turn of the 20th century. Forgive me for putting on my skepticals here, but I can’t help but think two things:
1) Kidnapping women, covering women’s eyes with pitch and impregnating women is a common trait of British Columbia sasquatches or
2) Seraphine Long’s story may possibly be based on the story of Stenwyken and may never have actually happened to her at all.
I have this unpleasant taste in my mouth right now from looking at the Long story in the light of the older Stenwyken narrative. I always had difficulty with Long’s story, but following my rereading of the Stenwyken tale, I must confess the Long story holds even less credibility for me now than ever before.
You might have noticed that I do not seem to appear to have a problem with the notion of interspecies breeding between sasquatch and humans, but that is a topic I will address at another time in the columns of Cryptomundo.
In regard to John W. Burns, I have nothing but respect for the man and his diligent efforts to bring the sasquatch to the fore in western consciousness. He simply recorded what he had been told and did not appear to judge what his informants had to say, leaving that to his readers like me to decide whether or not to accept these stories. J.W. Burns would have fit in really well with the style of present day contributors to Cryptomundo!!!
Now readers, feel free to discuss among yourselves and kindly post your constructive comments below.
One of the founders of the BCSCC, John Kirk has enjoyed a varied and exciting career path. Both a print and broadcast journalist, John Kirk has in recent years been at the forefront of much of the BCSCC’s expeditions, investigations and publishing. John has been particularly interested in the phenomenon of unknown aquatic cryptids around the world and is the author of In the Domain of the Lake Monsters (Key Porter Books, 1998). In addition to his interest in freshwater cryptids, John has been keenly interested in investigating the possible existence of sasquatch and other bipedal hominids of the world, and in particular, the Yeren of China. John is also chairman of the Crypto Safari organization, which specializes in sending teams of investigators to remote parts of the world to search for animals as yet unidentified by science. John travelled with a Crypto Safari team to Cameroon and northern Republic of Congo to interview witnesses among the Baka pygmies and Bantu bushmen who have sighted a large unknown animal that bears more than a superficial resemblance to a dinosaur. Since 1996, John Kirk has been editor and publisher of the BCSCC Quarterly which is the flagship publication of the BCSCC. In demand at conferences, seminars, lectures and on television and radio programs, John has spoken all over North America and has appeared in programs on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, TLC, Discovery, CBC, CTV and the BBC. In his personal life John spends much time studying the histories of Scottish Clans and is himself the president of the Clan Kirk Society. John is also an avid soccer enthusiast and player.