The cast and crew of the Animal Planet TV show ‘Finding Bigfoot’ set up a gathering at the Cultural Center in Bethel. Their goal was to record eyewitness accounts of the creature they’re searching for, known locally in the Yukon-Kuskokwim area as “Hairy Man.”
Frieda Bean was on a boating trip to Three Step Mountain, riding up the twisting Kwethluk River with her husband, when she says something caught her eye on the treeline.
“I saw a figure of bigfoot just standing there, staring at me eye to eye. It was a figure of a human being but way bigger, the head was bigger, rounder, and the arms were bigger too. And hairy,” says Beans.
Beans says she could barely make sense of what she saw.
“At first I thought it was a sight of a spirit. Nobody any bigfoot stories at the time,’ says Beans.
But many in the region grew up hearing stories of the “hairy man” or “Miluquyuliq” as it’s often called in Yup’ik. A hairy humanoid creature known to throw things like it’s own feces, sticks or rocks at anyone who comes too close. Recently, a local newspaper, the DeltaDiscovery began printing a series of witness accounts like these. That caught the attention of co-producer Natalie Hewson.
“We chose the YK Delta because there are many, many, stories that have come out of the area. There have been news reports, newspaper reports. So with that many reports in one area, it was a big point of interest so we decided to come out here,” says Hewson.
At the Bigfoot gathering, about 100 interested locals begin arriving to listen to what the gathering has to offer. They are asked to sign release forms before going into the conference room.
After the cameras were set up and the audience was in place, the shooting begins. The limelight shone while the cameras began rolling, the stars of the show, Bobo and Matt Moneymaker enter with applause.
The media was asked not to record as the cast began asking the audience members whether or not they’ve had an encounter with Sasquatch. Half a dozen hands go up and the TV cameras reset on them as they begin telling their stories in front of everyone. Some say they saw a “Hairy Man,” others experienced mysterious encounters, and others relayed secondhand accounts.
Elizabeth Roll of Bethel says what we hear, only scratches the surface.
“Something like this I think is only just the beginning of the iceberg. If you really went to every village and talked to people there, you’d probably hear 5 or 10 stories. I think anything’s possible and there sure seems to be a lot of sightings around,” says Roll.
Some are skeptical, while others believe that so many sightings could only mean there’s something out there. Something big, humanlike, and hairy.
The audience then left while the cast filmed a scene with the witnesses, documenting the locations of the encounters.
Hewson says now her team will venture into the YK Delta wilderness, to film at some of the locations near Bethel. Whether or not the show finally finds bigfoot in the Delta, she says the journey itself is worth it.
“I think whether or not Bigfoot exists is a very interesting subject. There are a lot of things out there that people have seen that you can’t quite explain, and when you can’t explain something we want to try to figure out what it is. There’s people all over the world that have stories of seeing a Bigfoot-like creature. So I think it’s very important for us to continue the search and try to figure out what this is,” says Hewson.
Hewson say’s the material they gather could be used before the end of this season of Finding Bigfoot. Whenever it airs, the show will be the biggest venue yet for the age-old tale of Miluquyuliq.