Eastern Washington forest (author photos)
Mel Skahan, a longtime forester with decades of experience in the woodlands of eastern Washington, relates a lesson he learned about respecting Sasquatch. Skahan will be a featured speaker at Sasquatch The Legend's Forks Sasquatch Days in May 2023.
“I had to learn a lesson,” says Mel Skahan, an enrolled member of the indigenous Yakama tribe, based in eastern Washington State. “I had done something that I shouldn’t have. I had to correct what I had done and heal that relationship,” he explains.
It might sound like Skahan is describing a difficult situation with a work colleague or a crisis point in a marriage, but he’s not. He’s talking about a time when he, in his own words, “violated the trust” of Sasquatch.
A career forester, Skahan has spent decades working in timbered areas of Washington State, doing such jobs as timber cruising, conducting insect studies, fighting wildfires and more. Several years ago, while marking trees for a timber sale in a creek bottom area, Skahan was hammering flags onto a tree when his senses suddenly came alive. “I had this uneasy feeling that I was being watched and followed,” Skahan says. Once he started climbing up a slope and moving away from the area, he began to feel better. After this experience, Skahan recalled stories told to him by his grandfather and the elders of his tribe about beings who live in the forest but “walk like us and talk like us.” He concluded that the being watching and following him must have been Sasquatch.
Another time, Skahan was working with an entomologist, placing triangular-shaped, paper insect traps high in trees in order to study moths that live in Douglas firs. He would place a few traps in an area, then return six or seven months later. Every time he came back to one particular place, the traps would be on the ground. Something was knocking them down and scraping the needles off the trees in doing so. Skahan didn’t give up but continued placing the traps higher up in the trees, ten feet, eleven feet, twelve feet high. He would return six months later and the traps would again be knocked down. Finally one time he returned to the same area with another researcher and they both saw what appeared to be a huge handprint wrapped around one of the traps. Then he knew for sure that it was Sasquatch.
Skahan believes that over his years of daily work in the forests of eastern Washington, he had earned the trust of the Sasquatch in the area and that they had assessed that he was not a threat to them. When he entered the forest, they would simply let him know they were there through a whistle, a wood knock, or a howl. For many years, Skahan did not have any problems at all with Sasquatch. All that would change one day, when Skahan came across a huge, donut-shaped, bed area constructed of carefully woven branches. There, he collected something that did not belong to him, something that belonged to Sasquatch. Later, the Sasquatch would let him know, in no uncertain terms, that he had to return what he had taken.
“Everything has its place out there. Even a rock was there before you were alive and it will still be there after you’ve gone. If you move the rock, you change the relationship the rock has had with the ground for thousands of years,” Skahan explains.
Mel Skahan will tell his story in much greater detail, explain the process he went through to atone for his mistake, and discuss the lessons he has learned through his experiences with Sasquatch, at Forks Sasquatch Days in Forks, Washington, May 26-28, 2023.
by Christina Hebert