July 5, 2006

Interview with Grand Cherokee a/k/a Gerry Matthews

Grand Cherokee, as he is known on the Bigfoot Forums, is actually none other than Jerry Matthews, creator of West Coast Sasquatch.

I have always found his comments to be straight forward and honest. He speaks his mind, and is always willing to offer good advice to a new researcher. I enjoyed discussing these issues with Gerry as he was honest, and really discussed how he feels, regarding these questions, and his thinking is logical and intelligent. I have met many in this field of research who are very intelligent, Gerry is no exception.

Gerry also has a fantastic sense of humor, he has made me laugh too many times to count.

I hope to have future discussions with Gerry on this blog. I appreciate his honesty and his no nonsense approach to this research. I have come to really respect Gerry, if that means anything coming from a new person in this, he is just one of those people I know I could research with and be taken seriously. He has been supportive and full of good advice for me. The physical demands in the field are hard enough - who needs all the additional stuff.

I would like to thank Gerry for granting this interview, it was a real honor and pleasure for me, and I hope to continue this discussion in the near future. :)

Interview with Gerry Matthews

Question: Please tell the readers about yourself.

Gerry Matthews: I am a transplanted Easterner and I still retain my accent. Came to British Columbia in 1980 and set down roots in the Lower Mainland area. But, town by town, I subtly moved away from Vancouver and out into the Fraser Valley which is where I now call home.

I spent a good number of years as a lineman for the telephone company, but left to start my own business about ten years ago. I am an avid reader on most any subject, and have also written articles for kayaking magazines.

The closet writer in me still has one completed manuscript for a novel, which is 'part one' of a fantasy trilogy sitting at the bottom of my file cabinet, along with a completed stage play and a current screen play for a TV drama about Sasquatch Investigator/Researchers. Will anything come of them? Who knows? But there you have it.

Question: Are you a member of any organized group(s) or are you an independent researcher, or both?

Gerry Matthews: I would say that an independent researcher would best describe me. But what I research is the Sasquatch Phenomenon, not just the creature alone. Lets face it. We don't know anything about Sasquatch from which to be able to do research, do we? We can speculate till the cows come home, but that is it.

No. I am equally as interested in the people involved in the whole scene , whether they be armchair researchers, or researchers out in the field, or people writing about those researchers out in the field, or those making some kind of living selling their wares, artwork, running campgrounds, etc.

However, I did see a niche for British Columbia in the Sasquatch information highway and, after a meeting with John Green, I rushed home and created West Coast Sasquatch and the website, in about two weeks.

Before that there was nothing coming out of British Columbia on a large scale by way of the Internet, telling the story about the people who live here and who pursue this phenomenon.

Through John Green, I met Chris Murphy, who was a huge amount of help in forwarding information to me as I needed it. Through Bushman, I tracked down Thomas Steenburg and through him became involved in the British Columbia Scientific C
ryptozoology Club and made the acquaintance of John Kirk.

Everyone involved with West Coast Sasquatch is an affiliate who does their own researching. But we share and come together.. under that name.. for some kind of common good. We also research as a group.. whatever the situation warrants, we are flexible. And more than that, we are friends.

Question: How long have you been active in the field of bigfoot research?

Gerry Mathews: Like many, I was amazed at the P/G film stills, which appeared in Argosy Magazine. I was only a teenager at the time and they enthralled me, and scared the crap out of me. I thanked God that there was nothing like that in my part of the country! And soon after that, I got a dog eared copy of the Dahinden/Don Hunter book and read it in one sitting. (There have been a lot of books since!) But 'ol Squatch is pretty scarce on the east coast.. especially when you live on an island.. so my education had to wait for a number of more years until I came out to BC.

Who or what, got me actively involved? I would have to say meeting with John Green in his home. I consider him to be no less then a National Treasure. No wild eyed romantic there, just a soft voice of reason and logic. If not for that meeting ( which was doubly terrifying because I had promised Bipto that I would record it, so he could transcribe it onto the Bigfoot Research Project website. ) we probably would not be having this discussion.

Poor foolish me.. there I was in John Green's house. It would have been enough just to have met with him and have him sign my shirt or something.. but noooo.. I also wanted to interview him, as well.. for others to read!!! Pretty arrogant on my part, but, I survived and there was no going back after that.

Question: Have you noticed any changes in this field of research over the years?

Gerry Matthews: You know.. after being away from the Sasquatch scene for a couple of decades or so, I thought I would investigate the latest news by way of the Internet, I was saddened to discover that there was nothing new in the way of evidence. Dahinden's book is just as timely today as it was back then. Little has happened. Maybe the Skookum Cast, or Glen Thomas' rock digging family down in Oregon were interesting items but that is about it. It is over 30 years after the fact and people are still kiyi-ing over the P.G. film.

About the only.. "that really made you sit up didn't it".. type of event, was the implosion of the BFRO. The people involved are becoming more interesting than the Sasquatch itself, but maybe that has always been the way. For instance, take 'Sasquatch Apparitions'... great book.. if you see it on EBAY grab it up.. Barbara Bosson wrote it.. gives you the real scoop on Green, Dahinden, Byrnes,.. Pacific Northwest Expedition.. she was there and she pulls no punches! The people who follow squatch are, in many cases, just as colorful as the beast.

So, in answer to your question, nothing has really changed..except possibly some people'0s attitudes about not doing what has not worked in the past.

Question: What has been your primary focus, in this field of study?

Gerry Matthews: A higher standard of evidence!

Please explain.

In the Sasquatch research world, there are too many incidents of possibilities becoming assumptions and then getting somehow translated into fact.

Once something, which is purely speculation, gets magically turned into a fact... then you cannot un-ring that bell.

A sample transgressor would be..alleged Sasquatch (vocalizations) sound files. No one has a clue as to what they are.. but someone comes up with the idea that these noises are not being made by any known animal... so lets assign them to Sasquatch. It will be up to the skeptics to prove it wrong.

I wrote the outline for a Sasquatch field guide and there was an entire section having to do with the procurement of evidence, how to handle it, and where to bring it for analysis, etc! It was up to those people more knowledgeable than myself to fill in the information! I left it at S.R.I. many moons ago, I hope someone there picked it up and continued with it.

It would be a very cool thing to have a pocketbook that could lead you from your front door, and tell you what to look for, and if you should find it.. what to do with it, and where you then take it.... and have all of these published steps agreed upon by people who have spent a lot of time out in the field. So I really hope someone there is still working on that.

Follow up question: But, don't you think its important to keep a possible vocalization a possible - until whatever is making the vocal is captured on tape, and that can be verified?

Gerry Matthews:
Well, yes.. if you love a mystery and want to find out what is making a certain sound... sure. However, in my personal opinion.. there is no such thing as a possible Sasquatch vocalization. It either is.. or it isn't! If you cannot prove that it is..then why on earth put it out there as such, to begin with?

This would stop the speculation circle at the start. That is where one person says it is possible...., another assumes that they know what they are talking about and agrees with the first p
erson.. and through a certain type of magic.. you now have a new fact floating about that others buy into, and once it transforms into such a thing... it takes a lot of persistence to bring it back to what it originally was and what it may eventually be proven to be..... only an interesting noise made by some known forest creature. But even then.. you will have people say.."Yeah, but I bet it was actually Sasquatch mimicking that creature to fool people!"

I have any number of strange noises on my computer.. are any of them Sasquatch? Who knows? But I am not going to be the one to infer they might be. When someone videos a Sasquatch making a noise.. then you will have a Sasquatch vocalization.

: What keeps you asking questions?

Gerry Matthews:
Too many sightings. Odds are that there must be one that is not a mis-identification..but an actual encounter! Footprints in the darnest places? It is always the footprints.

Question: What do you think about the growing numbers of women becoming active in this field?

Gerry Matthews: A different perspective is what is probably needed to solve this. If their 'significant other' is also involved.. win, win!

Question: Have you had a sighting? If so please explain.

Gerry Matthews: I have not had a sighting. If I did, I would have to take off my skepticals and put them away.

Follow up question: Does not having your own visual sighting ever discourage you?

Gerry Matthews:
Actually, that is a very good question, but it is like asking a fisherman why does he go out on a lake every afternoon when he never catches anything. I like the sport of it.

No matter what you read in forums and books, the fact is that very, very, very few people actually have, or will ever see a Sasquatch. I just find it to be a fascinating subject..... and if I should go to my grave not having seen one.. then I will be in very good company, and I will not be bitter.

But, if I am lucky enough to see one, what will I think? I do not know. Not everyone who has seen one thinks it was a good thing.

I remember Thomas Steenburg playing a tape for me in my cubby hole office in the basement. It was an interview that he did with a local woman who had a squatch walk out in front of her car. She sounded scared at the memory, and one could tell she was walking an emotional tight rope and she could slip any second. I felt sorry for her. Someday she may look back and think of it as an inspirational event. But for now, and probably for some years in the future, she will think of it as a glimpse into hell. Guess you got to be careful what you wish for, heh?

Question: One piece of equipment you think is the most important?

Gerry Matthews:
Your "God Given" common sense and logic. It will get you through anything.

Question: Most researchers have one report that "stands out" in their minds, is there a report that still "stands out" for you?

Gerry Matthews:
Ummmmmm... nope! Most of the reports that come my way are a few years old. Interesting anecdotal material, but a rather cold trail. There are a couple, though, which prod me to go research a certain area whenever I can.

Question: What questions would you like researchers to ask witnesses?

Gerry Matthews:
There was a questionnaire made up at S.R.I. when I was there, which is what could possibly be held up as a guide. I am sure that it is probably posted on their website. A lot of good people put it together.

Question: What you would like people to know about you.

Gerry Matthews:
That I am a sincere person, aside from that.. they can draw their own conclusions. :)

Question: Do you have any advice for a new researcher?

Gerry Matthews:
I guess just do that... Research! Read, read, read, long before you utter your first word on the subject to another person. Know how to back up any solid statement with sources. If people take you seriously, then they will treat you seriously.

Find someone in your area with some experience in the picky... with the Internet there will be an assortment to chose from.

Even hang out at the forums....

Try to find someone in your area who reflects your own standards to a great degree and make a friend.

First, second, and, And really make the attempt to talk to a person, on the phone, or face to face.. just use the computer as one tool for your research.. not your lone source!

And.. oh yeah! When this stops being fun... drop it. There are other equally beautiful mysteries out there.. if mystery is what you must have. Never let this take a toll on you, and strive not to lose friendships through conflicting opinions..... don't let the Squatch make a monkey out of you.


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