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August 15, 2006

Interview with Kathy Moskowitz Strain

While I enjoyed adding the Biography information of Kathy Moskowitz Strain to my blog, I realized - I wanted to ask her more questions, She graciously agreed to answer them.

Please read and get to know Kathy Moskowitz Strain, she is a wonderful woman and her love of this research is clear when she answers these questions.


Interview with Kathy Moskowitz Strain

1. How did you become involved with this research?

Answer: When I was a little girl, I saw Legend of Boggy Creek. I knew then what I wanted to do, but I didn't understand that not everyone believed Bigfoot was real. I asked my teacher in 6th grade what I needed to do to study Bigfoot, and she said that anthropology was probably where they would study him. So that is what I did!2. When did you first start interviewing Native Americans to record their stories about this animal?

Answer: In 1990, I started working as an archaeologist for the Sequoia National Forest. The Tule River Indian Reservation was adjacent to the forest and I worked closely with the elders on several projects. The subject of Bigfoot came up one day while I was on the reservation and the elders were very open about their beliefs. I asked if I could write what they told me down, and they agreed. Over the years, I gained the trust of many elders and tribal members who shared their beliefs with me and I put some on paper and some in my heart.

3. How receptive were they to you?

Answer: I think the fact that I truly believed what they said (it probably showed in my eyes) and that I'm part Native myself, helped them want to tell me their beliefs. They wanted to share that information to make sure it was written down and passed on.4. What is your favorite Native American Story about this animal?

Answer: I love the Yokuts story of how man came to be created and walk on two feet. We really should be more grateful to Hairy Man, or we'd be walking on all fours, like how coyote wanted.

5. Do you continue to gather more of these stories?

Answer: Yes. I have gathered stories from all over California, Alaska, the South, and a few from Oregon and Washington.6. Why do you feel these stories are important?

Answer: Not only were Native people the first here, but they've been here the longest. If Bigfoot is a real creature, there should be record on him in Native artwork and stories. And there is, all over this great country. Why? If Bigfoot is imaginary, why do all the stories describe a similar creature? Why is his behavior consistent? There are more than a thousand tribes in the United States, each with a different language or dialect. It is unreasonable to think that "Bigfoot" started as a story somewhere and spread across the entire U.S. (and Alaska and Canada). These stories are also clearly very old (especially when you consider the age of the Hairy Man pictographs). To think that this is a white invention that spread like wildfire though the Native communities at contact is also unreasonable.

7. How long did you study the "Hairy Man" pic
tographs?

Answer: I became interested in the Hairy Man pictographs in 1986, when my Anthropology teacher from my junior college took me there and shared her thoughts on the issue. In 1990, when I worked with the elders, it was very clear to me that the connection between the pictographs and the stories were deeply rooted and intertwined.
8. Your opinion of these pictographs? Do they tell us anything about Bigfoot?

Answer: The pictographs are of a family of "Hairy Men". The main painting of Hairy Man is 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide. He's shaggy and has five fingers. The Yokuts have a story that Hairy Man helped create man and all the animals who where there painted their pictures on the wall for man to remember...so the Yokuts did. The painting is of a Bigfoot, known to the Yokuts on the Tule River Indian Reservation, as Hairy Man or Mayak Datat. Along with the stories, the painting tells us that how Natives viewed Bigfoot is exactly as reports describe him today.

9. What is your goal in the search for Bigfoot?

Answer: To prove Bigfoot is real and get the species protected.10. Do you have an area you research?

Answer: Yes, I pretty much stay in my own backyard. In 2001, there was some unusual activity very near where I was living at the time. Since it was winter and the area was just below the snow line and had water and food, it opened my eyes that research could and should be conducted where you know the area well. To do the best research possible, you need to know the land, the plants, the animals, what is out of place, who visits the area (like recreationalists), when snow falls (maybe that is why that tree is down), etc. You can't do that if you have to drive hours to the location.11. Have you found tracks?If so, what is that feeling like?

Answer: Yes. It feels both overwhelming (when you realize just how BIG these creatures are) and fantastic that you are helping to solve the mystery.

12. Do you think we are getting close to documenting this animal?

Answer: I think we are closer than we have ever been because we have several very professional groups and individuals seeking to answer this question in a scientific manner.

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