When a bunch of “ape-men” attacked a group of miners in July of of 1924, The Oregonian newspaper was fast to report the incident. Most Bigfoot researchers know of the event that occurred along Ape Canyon, which was named after the infamous confrontation between humans and apes.
The purported attack took place in the Mt. St. Helens and Lewis River area in Southwest Washington. According to the paper, one of the miners claimed he had shot and killed one of the creatures, which apparently triggered what at first sight seems to be a planned revenge attack on the workers cabin. No one knows the reason why the miner shot the special creature, although it is a fact that some humans bear some curious affinity to kill and destroy what they don’t understand.
The paper also reported that some Native Americans believed the apes responsible for the alleged attack on the miners were actually a tribe of “giant” humans that were part of the Seeahtik group.
“The big apes reported to have bombarded a shack of prospectors at Mount St. Helens, are recognized by Northwestern Indians as none other than the Seeahtik Tribe of Indians. Seeahtik is a Clallam pronunciation. All other tribes of the Northwest pronounce it Seeahtkeh. Northwestern Indians have long kept the history of the Seeahtik Tribe a secret, because the tribe is the skeleton in the Northwestern Indians’ closet. Another reason the Indians have never divulged the existence of this tribe is that the Northwestern Indians know the white man would not believe the stories regarding the Seeahtik Tribe,” the newspaper article said following the confrontation.
Even though this “Planet of the Apes” story is hard to believe, there is significant documented evidence to prove something certainly happened on that hot summer day, to the point of instigating an “ape hunt”.
“That the apeman hunt now being conducted by Kelso people will meet with failure is the foregone conclusion of Indians of the Northwest who know the habits and supernatural powers of these Seeahtik Indians or the lower class of Seeahtiks, which the Clallams call the Tyapish or Nung-Nung, the name given them by the lower Chehalis Tribe,” the paper wrote on July 17, 1924.
Everybody wanted the creatures dead. It was a threat that needed to be taken care of. Native American legends and eyewitness accounts began flooding the local media.
“Every Indian, especially of the Puget Sound Tribes, is familiar with the history of these strange giant Indians, as they are sometimes referred to by local Indians. Shaker Indians of Northwestern Oregon, who attended the Shakers’ convention on the Skokomish Reservation on Hood Canal last year, related to the writer their experience with the Seeahtik Indians.”
One of the most shocking revelations about the Seeahtik, chronicled on The Oregonian front cover on July 16, 1924, was their hunting weapon: Hypnotism. According to some Northwestern tribes, the Seeahtik killed by means of hypnotism. The giants, they said, were also capable of ventriloquism and claimed to “have deceived many ordinary Indians by throwing their voices.”
The Seeahtik were particularly known for “playing practical jokes upon them” and they would steal other tribes women, which correlates with other Bigfoot folklore in the region.
“I had been visting relatives near Duncan, B.C. and while there I had been told many stories of the Seeahtiks by the Cowichan Tribe of British Columbia and warned by them not to go too far into the wilderness. However, in following a buck I had wounded I went in farther than I expected. It was at twilight when I came across an animal that I believed to be a big bear but as I aimed at him with my gun he looked and spoke to me in my own tongue. He was about seven feet tall and his body was very hairy. As he invited me to sit down, he told me that I had come upon him unaware and that his mind had been projected to distant relatives of his, otherwise he would never have been seen,” Clallam Tribe’s Henry Napoleon told the paper.
Who are these people? Are they some sort of enlarged humans or are they the result of something more complex such as a different species? And again, one wonders, why did the miner shoot the purported beast? If what the Natives said holds to be true, Bigfoot is harmless if left alone. If so, the revenge the Seeahtiks took on the miners appeared to be justified to some extent. More over, some believe the strange tribe was about to be extinct, adding more pressure to their methods of survival.
Was the Ape Canyon a simple confrontation between “cowboys and Indians” taken out of context? It certainly sounds like a racial dispute never put to rest. But, is it?
If we refer to the newspaper articles that followed that summer, the Kelso people went on a hunt for the “ape men”. The hated Seeahtiks had their supernatural powers, but their enemies were many and growing in numbers by the day.
Native American Allen Chenois was told by his uncle about a party of Indians speaking “in queer animal sounds” he couldn’t understand.
He added that the creatures were “tall, narrow-hipped and had crooked legs, and at the same time were deep-chested with heavy arms and enormous hands”. They had thick hair and large breasts. Their heads were “matted with uncut hair and black glittering eyes like the eyes of birds”. Their jaws were so big that they could “partly devour lay the carcass of a deer.”
He goes on to say that they saw the creatures clearly because it was a clear night and that they looked so scary they decided to leave soon.
L. Peter James of the Lummi Tribe referred to the beings as being able to take their young men “like toys, turning them upside down and ripping them in two like a piece of calico”.
Were the Seaahtiks inter-dimensional travelers with supernatural powers capable of appearing and disappearing at will? Researcher Kewaunee Lapseritis has long proposed a similar theory applied to the Sasquatch creatures on his book The Sasquatch People and Their Interdimensional Connection.
Bigfoot mania was the trend in 1924 and the following years. Whether the supposed superhuman tribe became extinct or not is a subject of debate today. It is possible that the Ape Canyon incident, and the events that followed, helped shape the genesis of the mystery of Bigfoot in the Northwestern region of North America. We know that something happened that day and, although it is not clear what it was, the mystery most likely will remain alive until we can find clearer evidence to prove -or debunk- the existence of these “ape men”, the Seeahtiks tribe, also known as “Bigfoot”.