Pre-Columbian and Early American Legends of Bigfoot-like Beings





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Indian Tribes:

  • Onondagas


Legendary Beings:

The Stonish Giants
small, 4ft tall manlike creatures



Iroquois Folk Lore Gathered from the Six Nations of New York
Rev. William Beauchamp, NY. Ira J. Friedman Co. 1965.



"I have alluded to the Ot-ne-yar-hed or Stonish Giants, who overran the country, fought a great battle, and held the people in subjection for a long time.The Stonish Giants were so ravenous that they devoured the people of almost every town in the country. At the Mississippi they had seperated from all others and gone to the northwest."The family was was left to seek its habitation, and the rules of humanity were forgotten, and afterwards eat raw flesh of the animals. At length they practiced rolling themselves on the sand, by this means their bodies were covered with hard skin; these people became giants and were dreadful invaders of the country."

So said David Cusick. According to him the Holder of the Heavens led them into a deep ravine near Onondaga, and rolled great stones on them in the night. But one escaped, and since then "the Stonish Giants left the country and seeks an asylum in the regions of the north."

The Onondagas have a local but different story. They say that a Stone Giant lived near Cardiff, a little south of their reservation, which is by no means their early home. He was once like other men, but was a great eater, becoming a cannibal, and increased in size. His skin became hard and changed into scales, which alone would turn an arrow. Every day he came through the valley, caught and devouted an Onondaga, a fearful toll. The people were dismayed but formed a plan. They made a road in the marsh witha covered pitfall, decoyed the giant through the path and down he went and was killed.Of course when the Cardiff Giant was "found" it did not astonish the Onondagas that he was of stone.

The Onondagas have also a story of a Stone Giant's race with a man near Jamesville. He ran the man into the hollow at Green Pond, west of that village, where the rocks rise 200 feet above the water on three sides. On the south side the precipice can be ascended by a natural stairway at one spot, and the man was far enough ahead to reach the top before the other. He lay down and looked from the rocks to see what the other would do. The latter came and looked around. Not seeing the man he took out of his pouch what seemed a finger, but was really a pointer of bone. By means of this he could find any object he wished, and so it was always useful in hunting. As he climbed the rocks the man reached down and took away the pointer before the other saw him. The giant begged him to restore it. If he would do this he was promised good luck and long life for himself and friends. Though he begged so piteously the man ran home with it to show his friends, leaving him there helpless, unable to find his way. His friends interceded, telling him to accept the giant's good offer and not incur his enmity. So they went back adn found him still at the lake. He recieved his pointer, promising to eat men no more, and good luck followed the man. This is one of the oldest Stone Giant stories, closely resembling one told by David Cusick.

The Albatwitches-Columbia, Pennsylvania

Local legends in the area of Columbia, Pennsylvania speak of a creature called an "albatwitch." The albatwitch is a small (about 4 feet tall), manlike creature which supposedly lived in wooded areas. Their main area of residence seemed to be near Chickies Rock, a heavily wooded area along the banks of the Susquehanna River about a mile or two north of town. Albatwitches were also reported from wooded areas all along the river's shore.

The creatures are named for a habit which they possess. Their bizarre common name is short for "apple-snitch", as they are reputed to have a taste for apples. Legends speak of how the albatwitches would oftentimes steal apples from picnickers, occasionally even throwing them at the startled people. Legends also record that the creatures often sat in trees, coming down only to find food.

Legend also says that the albatwitches either became extinct or were driven nearly into extinction in the later years of the nineteenth century. Chickies Rock, where the creatures supposedly lived, does have a tradition of strange sights and sounds - in the 1950s and 1970s, a manlike figure was seen several times, and local legends also speak of sounds like the crack of a whip heard in the woods at night. One can only wonder if these could be connected with the albatwitch.

Whether these stories are connected or not, several sightings of Bigfoot-types have been recorded from this area. A vague report concerning the sighting of a hairy humanoid came from Lancaster in 1973. Lancaster is a scant 10 miles east of Columbia. Another came from the town of North Annville (about 20 miles to the north) in the same year. In addition, a number of reports have surfaced out of neighboring York County.

Also, some sources say that the Susquehannocks, like many Indian tribes, had a belief in an apelike monster, and sometimes depicted it on their war-shields. The Susquehannocks were a local tribe - coincidentally, major evidences of their civilization (ruins of a village and burial grounds) were found at the base of Chickies Rock.



Updated:June 18, 2000
© 2000 Andy Rennard, Bigfoot Field Researchers Organisation