Illustration courtesy of Jason M. Burke
By publishing his first book, “Secretly Seeking Sasquatch: A Road Guide to Washington’s Bigfoot Country,” EWU alumnus and former Easterner writer Jason M. Burke earned the title of author.
As the description of the book says, “part guide, part memoir and part humorous essay, ‘Secretly Seeking Sasquatch: A Road Guide to Washington’s Bigfoot Country,’ is all adventure.”
The origins of Squatch
The term sasquatch is derived from the Salish word “se’sxac,” meaning “wild men,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The Salish people are an ethno-linguistic group native to the Pacific Northwest.
While the origins of sasquatch are debated, as there are many myths and legends from all around the world that share similar descriptions of a wild, hairy, ape-like creature, there is one that is responsible for the modern legend of “Bigfoot.”
Two reporters from the Humboldt Times in the ‘50s, Andrew Genzoli and Betty Allen, began to cover stories of loggers discovering mysteriously large footprints in the area. Eventually, the legend of Bigfoot was born.
Since its origins, the sightings and stories surrounding sasquatch have only grown with T.V. shows like “Finding Bigfoot” still on air.
EWU Alumni Matt Setzer, who has a bachelor of arts in anthropology, says the fascination of stories like Bigfoot stems from our human desire to understand our place in the world.
“We have been telling stories from the beginning of time trying to explain our own existence,” Setzer said. “It’s how we teach lessons and how we explain how we came to be and what we are and what we do.”
Burke points out humans natural desire to learn and understand the nature of our reality.
“We do have this need for a mystery, I think we inherently, most human beings, want to know that there is more out there to discover and to learn about,” Burke said. “(Sasquatch), it’s seemingly so much like us, like it could be another type of person.”
Burke also brought up recent discoveries in human’s history and how the stories of Bigfoot offer a link to our human evolutionary process.
“We’re learning so much more about human history, that the time that overlapped between different species of humans and neanderthals…ape-like people, (is) a lot longer than we thought they did,” Burke said. “We have shared the planet with these things in the past and there might still be some around.”
For Burke, the fascination over Bigfoot began as a kid while growing up during the rise in popularity of counter-culture topics such as UFO’s, aliens and everything in between.
“There was this show called, ‘In Search Of,’ with Leonard Nimoy,” Burke said. “It was cool, and it was scary and it’s about as ‘70s as anything gets.”
The T.V. series “In Search Of,” aired from 1977-82 and covered mysterious phenomena such as aliens, UFO’s and of course, Bigfoot.
While being a park ranger for over 10 years, Burke never encountered any sasquatch sightings, but the seed of “Seeking Sasquatch,” was planted.
“People report Sasquatch crossing roads and I wonder(ed) if anyone has ever written a road guide on Bigfoot,” Burke said. “I didn’t think anyone married those two ideas.”
“Seeking Sasquatch: A Road Guide to Washington’s Bigfoot Country,” takes the reader on an exploration of the truth and sites surrounding sasquatch.
Burke hopes the readers will have a newfound perspective after reading his book or at least have a few laughs and some fun along the way.
“I hope it’s funny,” Burke said. “But I mean, it’s truthful… it’s not a work of fiction, I didn’t make any of this up…I hope they are intrigued, I hope they are a little more open minded than before or that they consider something that they haven’t before.”
Regardless of how adventurous or outdoorsy you are, Burke says this book will offer a new insight into the landscape of Washington and the Pacific Northwest.
As to whether or not you decide to believe in Bigfoot…
“I kind of hope that people will take that journey and decide for themselves,” Burke said.