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He must have believed what he said, for he could hardly repress a shudder at certain points of the tale; but he was of German ancestry, and in childhood had doubtless been saturated with all kinds of ghost and goblin lore. So that many fearsome superstitions were latent in his mind; besides, he knew well the stories told by the Indian medicine men in their winter camps, of the snow-walkers, and the specters, and the formless evil beings that haunt the forest depths, and dog and waylay the lonely wanderer who after nightfall passes through the regions where they lurk. It may be that when overcome by the horror of the fate that befell his friend, and when oppressed by the awful dread of the unknown, he grew to attribute, both at the time and still more in remembrance, weird and elfin traits to what was merely some abnormally wicked and cunning wild beast; but whether this was so or not, no man can say.
According to Wolter’s narration, he was skeptical of Bigfoot’s existence until he heard Roosevelt’s account, which he deems excessively credible because it was recorded by a president of the United States. By that token, Wolter must also believe in UFOs because Jimmy Carter claimed to have seen one (it was the planet Venus) and a lost race of giants because Abraham Lincoln claimed to hold that belief (writing in 1848 or 1850 of “that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America”), and a lost race of Mound Builders because Andrew Jackson did… Hmm… We seem to have a pattern. Well, the one thing we know is that Wolter won’t disbelieve in the lost race of Mound Builders just because Thomas Jefferson, another president, determined from firsthand observations that there was no such thing. That’s just crazy talk.
The figures are those of human beings, the largest approaching life-size, the remaining ones being relatively smaller. The largest figure, that on the right (a), represents weeping, the arms with hands pendent, being extended as when making the gesture sign for rain, while the lines extending downward from the eyes denote tears, signifying, literally, eye-rain or weeping. It is evident that the recorder intended to convey the idea of sorrow, on account of the suffering expressed in the gestures and attitudes of others of his band shown in connection herewith. The six figures (designated by c) appear to be persons of different degrees of rank or social standing in the tribe, as indicated by the various lengths of the plumes. […] The Indians who now occupy this valley know nothing whatever of the origin of the record, nor the tribe that made it. (emphasis in original)
It’s fascinating that the image only became associated with Bigfoot after the Bigfoot myth developed in the middle twentieth century. In fact, it was only in 1973 that the identification was made. By rights, were there anything to the Bigfoot myth, we ought to have clear indications much earlier—surely someone would have argued that this picture was a giant ape-man sooner. Bigfoot enthusiasts point to oral traditions that identify Hairy Man with Bigfoot-like behavior, but these stories were collected only after the Bigfoot myth became popular (it calls Bigfoot by name); versions collected before featured a more mythological and godlike character. Some anthropologists feel that the original intention may have been to depict a shamanic bear-man figure, or even a simple depiction of a rearing grizzly.