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Media Article # 440

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bigfoot Believer Keeping the Faith

By Rick Steigmeyer
Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE - Paul Graves recalls waking to a chilling sound: a
haunting, whooping scream that carried across the valley in the icy

Graves, 43, of Wenatchee, described the long, piercing call as
sounding like a woman's cry, but in whooping breaths as those made by
an ape.

"We just looked at each other in disbelief," Graves said about
himself and a friend, both avid Sasquatch believers, who had spent
the first night of 2005 camped in a tent near Stevens Pass hoping to
hear just a sound. "We heard it scream twice. It wasn't close, but it
had the volume to carry across the valley."

There are many believers, Graves among them, nearly a year after the
most-accepted Sasquatch documentation was debunked by a Yakima man
who claimed to have worn a gorilla suit for a film of the mythical
creature striding through a Northern California forest.

Graves is a researcher- investigator for the Bigfoot Field
Researchers Organization, one of dozens of Bigfoot organizations that
have taken off with renewed interest and new reports in the past few
years thanks to Internet communication. Graves was one of three state
investigators named by the organization last year after participating
in a weeklong search for the elusive creature. His qualifications
included his 15-year interest and thorough knowledge of Bigfoot
research, he said.

Graves is a local general cement contractor, musician, sculptor and
the son of well-known Northwest artist Robert Graves and retired
Wenatchee World feature writer Sheila Graves. He said his new role as
an investigator for the BFRO lends credibility to a work that has
consumed him for more than 15 years.

The Los Angeles-based BFRO maintains a Web site and claims as its
goal to resolve the Bigfoot mystery by collecting data and physical
evidence that may one day conclusively prove the species' existence.

"We're looking for credible witnesses," he said. As a BFRO
researcher, his job is to interview people who make reports of
sightings to make sure they are credible and then add them to the

He's come up with a few, including the Ellensburg fireman and his
family camping at the Loup Loup Campground near Twisp who heard two
or more animals calling each other through the night. The sounds were
unlike any the experienced hunter had ever heard and unnerved the
family so much they had to abandon their tent and spend the night in
their car, Graves reported.

Graves believes there are many people with Sasquatch stories to share
who haven't for lack of a credible group to document the information
without bringing embarrassment. He hopes to find those people as well
as relatives of those who have passed older stories down.

According to the BFRO Web site, the group was started in 1995 by
Matthew Moneymaker, a Los Angeles attorney who created the 2001
Discovery Channel documentary, "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science."

Reports of a shy 6- to 8-foot-tall ape-like creature with 18-inch
feet that walks erect like a man and lives deep in the forest have
circulated for more than 150 years, Graves said. Called Bigfoot,
Sasquatch, Yeti, the Abominable Snowman and many other names,
sighting have been documented and become the substance of legend for
hundreds of years throughout the world.

More sightings (338) have been reported in Washington than anywhere
in the nation, according to the BFRO Web site. Most (46) have come
from Skamania County, near Mount St. Helens. Chelan and Okanogan
County have eight well-documented sightings each. Douglas and Grant
County have none, according to the Web site.

Nearly every Washington Indian tribe has its stories and its own name
for the creature, said Graves, who is recording a new song
titled, "Dsonaqua," the Kwaikutl Indian name for Bigfoot. He recorded
several other songs about Bigfoot and the Northwest mountain mystique
when he led the local band Moss Dog in the 1990s. He's also carved
soapstone images of the mysterious creature and is currently at work
on an 8-foot-tall plaster of paris model that he intends to put in
his garden. He knows he'll get a razzing from friends and neighbors,
but he's used to it.

"People call me Bigfoot, but it doesn't bother me. They're just
uneducated," said Graves, who has a bookcase of well-worn copies of
Bigfoot books that have been published over the past 40 years.

Other groups are also eager to find more clues about the hairy man of
the woods. Ray Crowe, director of the International Bigfoot Society,
based in Portland, said modern technology is on the verge of proving
Bigfoot's existence. New cameras, Internet connections, sophisticated
DNA and fingerprint examinations have already produced a wealth of
new information that has scientists believing that a species of early
man may have somehow survived, Crowe said by phone Wednesday.

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