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


Aztec- Ianoan



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Indian Tribes:

  • Shoshoni
  • Paiute
  • Kawaiisu
  • Serrano
  • Cahuilla
  • Ute
  • Commanche
  • Kiowa


Legendary Beings:

a rocky giant with pitchy hands



Myths of the Mono Lake Paiute
Julian H. Seward, UC Publications in American Archaelogy and Ethnology, Vol. 34, No. 5
Myths of the Owens Valley Paiute
Julian H. Seward, UC Publications in American Archaelogy and Ethnology, Vol. 34, No. 5
Shoshone Tales,
Anne M. Smith, Ed. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 1993. ISBN 0-87486-405-1


{Illustration Graphics}

The Woman and the Giants

Once there lived a giant named Tse'nahaha who killed people by looking at them. He always carried a big basket of thorns on his back. When he caught anyone, he threw him over his back into the basket.

A group of Indians were playing the hand game in a certain house, and were having a good time. They had stationed a woman outside to watch for Tse-nahaha. After a while, she heard Tse'nahaha coming. He was talking to himself and singing. The woman tried to warn the people that the giant was coming, but they did not hear her. Tse'nahaha was getting closer. The woman became frightened, and jumped into a little pit and pulled a basket over herself.

She heard Tse'nahaha come up and stop. He stooped down and crawled into the doorway of the house and looked around. Twice he made a sucking noise with his lips. When he looked at anyone in the house, that person died at once. The others noticed the dead ones staring and said, "What are you people looking at? What is there worth looking at?"" Then they, too looked at Tse'nahaha and died. Soon they were all dead. Only a little baby was left inside, sleeping. Tse'nahaha went away.

The baby commenced to cry. It was almost daylight now. The baby crawled over to the people and pushed them over. Then the woman left the pit and went inside, but she did not look at the dead people. She called the baby, and said, "Let's go away." She set the house on fire, took the baby, and went away. With her digging-stick, she dug kani'd while the baby slept and ate.

As she was living this way, another giant, Pu'wihi came along. Pu'wihi picked up the baby, holding his head between his second and third fingers, and carried him over to the woman. He said to her, "Where are you from?" She answered, "I am from that house over there--the one with the smoke coming out. There are many men in it." The giant went toward the house. The woman was very frightened and tried ot hide. She set her digging-stick in a clump of wild oats and vaulted as far as she could.

When the giant came back from the house he did not see her. He looked all around. He was furious and twisted his nose in anger. He found the wild oats and saw the mark of her stick. This showed in which direction she had jumped, and he went to a big flat rock. She had gone under this rock, and was crying.

The giant took the rock away and uncovered her, but it was dark by this time. He said, "I'll get her in the morning. Now I'll make a fire and grind up this baby." He found a large flat rock, ground up the baby, and ate him. He was having a fine time and lay there, singing. The woman could hear him. After a while he went to sleep. Then the woman got up and made another jump toward the east, to the house of her aunt.

When the woman came to her aunt's house, she was safe. The giant could not see the mark of her stick to find out which way she had jumped because this time she had jumped from a rock.

The Paiute Indians come from this woman.

Nu'numic the Giant

Nu'numic and his wife lived in a large cave near Fish springs. He was the enemy of the Indians and used to prey on them. The Indians came to Fish Springs daily to bathe or to get fish to eat.

Nu'numic would go down through the Black Rock country and visit people at the different springs. Once, several women were at Black Rock springs, gathering Indian sugar. They saw the giant coming and the younger women ran away. One woman, who was too old to get away from Nu'numic, stayed where she wa. She took some of the sugar cane and covered herself. She stayed there, quiet as a 'possum, under the grass.

But the giant had seen her already and knew where she was. He went to the place and sat on her. After a while he became so heavy that she had to move. The giant knew all the time that there was somebody under him. When she had to move, he said, "What is there under me, anyway?" He knew all the time what was under him. He uncovered her, and said, "Well, there is somebody under me!" He captured her and took her to his home. At his rock cave, he ground her up, cooked her, and ate her for a meal.

Another time, he went down from his home to Hine's spring, and there he found a little baby, Pau'ha, lying on top of a rock. The baby's body left an impression on the rock which may be seen today. Nu'numic said, "Who could have left you here, and what are you doing here?" While he was wondering, he thought he would have fun with Pau'ha before he killed him. With his little finger, he thumped Pau'ha on the forehead to see if it would wake him up. He said, "You poor little thing. Whoever left you here?" And he placed his forefinger in the palm of the baby's hand. The Pau'ha took a grip on his finger.

Then the little baby got up on his feet and dragged Nu'numic toward the spring where he lived. The giant tried to take hold of brush to stop himself, but nothing would help him. When the little baby came to the spring he said, "This is my water. Now feel good." He picked the great man up and threw him into the lake. Then he swam after Nu'numic and took him down under the water. That was the end of the giant. He had lived to abotu seventy-five years of age.

Nu'numic the Giant

Nu'numic was a great giant who lived near Black rock. He used to walk up and down Owens valley. He was so large taht he could walk the whole length of the valley in a short time. The Patsuan'was were tiny water babies. They lived in the sloughs throughout the valley.

The Patsuan'was decided that they wanted to get rid of Nu'numic. One day, one of them came out of the water and lay in the road to wait for Nu'numic. Nu'numic came walking along with his big strides, and saw the Patsuan'wa. He looked down at the little creature, and said, "My, but this is cute." He reached down at the little creature, and said, "Here, little thing, take hold of my finger." He wanted to play with the baby. The Patsuan'wa grabbed the giant's large finger in his small hand. His hand was so little that it would hardly go around Nu'numic's finger.

After a while, Nu'numic said, "Let go, now. I want to go on." But the Patsuan'wa kept hold of his finger. Nu'numic said, "Let go." But the little creature clung to him. Then he tried to shake it off, but could not. The Patsuan'wa began to walk, pulling Nu'numic behind him. Nu'numic tried to get loose. He said, "I want you to let me go. I want to be free." But the baby paid no attention to him. He dragged the giant to the water. Then he went into the water and pulled Nu'numic under and drowned him. That was the end of Nu'numic.


Tso'apittse was a rocky giant with pitchy hands. When children are naughty their parents tell them the giant will come down from the mountain: "Zo a wi zo ho ho ho."

A young man and his wife went up in the mountains. He wanted to hunt deer. He had traveled up to that place before he was married and he knew the country better than his young wife did. She didn't know all the superstitions of this place. When they were to camp that night, her husband told her, "This is a place were we used to camp. There is a good spring near here where you can get water. There is something about that spring. It is a very pretty spring, wide and round. If you go there be careful, because that is Tso'apittse's spring. It is where the giant and his family get their water. When you get your water, don't look in the spring. Don't let your face be reflected in the water." She believed him. He said, "Don't stay at the spring, don't sit down, be quick about getting your water."

He went hunting every day and she had to stay at camp alone. Every day she went for water and did just as her husband told her. Then one day she got to thinking, "I wonder what is wrong, why I can't stay by the water." She thought about how her hair needed washing. Why not wash her hair in the spring? So she went down. First she made a brush out of a low sagebrush, she was going to wash her hair. She got to the spring, filled her jug, set it down, and started undoing her hair. She started washing her hair. She sat down to do this. When she finished, she leaned over and looked into the water. She could see her face very clear and she sat and admired herself. Then she began to brush her hair, using the water as a mirror. km This was the first time she had seen herself and she thought how pretty she was, how beautiful her hair was. Then finally, she braided her hair and was ready to go home. To her surprise she couldn't get up. She was glued to the ground. Evening came, the sun was almost down. She kept trying to get up, but couldn't.

Meantime, the giant's children, who lived in the mountain, looked at the spring. One ran to her mother and said, "There is something in our spring. I saw something moving there." The mother went out and looked an saw it. Then Tso'apittse came home and they told him. He was happy. He warmed up his pitchy basket (he had pitchy hands, too) and put it on his back and ran to the spring. The girl heard his heavy footsteps and his breathing, "wi wi wi". When he was near the earth shook. The girl tried to get up but couldn't. Tso'apittse got to the spring. He kept hitting her on the breast with a flat club till her breasts all swelled up. Then he hit her head with his hands and scalped her. He killed her and slung her into his pitchy basket and took her home. His children came to meet him and were so glad he had brought something to eat.

The husband knew something must be wrong when he came to camp, for there was no fire there. It was too dark for him to track anything that night so he stayed there. He was very miserable. Next morning he got up very early. He was so nervous he couldn't sleep. He made a big fire and stood by it until the sun came up. When it was light he went down to the spring. He saw tracks where Tso'apittse had stood. He knew where the Tso'apittse family lived but he knew he could do nothing if he went there. So he went back to his parents' house to see if his father could help him. He told his father what had happened. So he and his father started making lots of arrows. So when he went back to the place he had lots of arrows. His father said, "You can't hit these tso'apittses, their bodies are made of rock. Their only vulnerable place is in the anus. You go at night. Don't go in the daytime, for Tso'apittse is not home in the daytime. At night Tso'apittse will be lying down. Hanging above him will be your wife's breast. His legs will be crossed and he will be kicking at your wife's breast. When his anus is exposed, shoot at it."

So the young man went to his wickiup in the mountains and got ready to go see Tso'apittse at night. He went there. The tso'apittse family lived in a great cave. The young man looked in. It was dark outside. His father had told him to try to not make any tracks Tso'apittse could track him and kill him, too. The young man was afraid to do anything that night. He looked around to see what he could do the next night.

The next night he went back there. He took some of his arrows with him. He got very close. He shot but his arrow didn't hit the anus. It tickled the giant and he grabbed it and it broke. The young man kept shooting but he couldn't hit the anus and kill him. So he went back to his wickiup. Next night he took more arrows and went back. He saw Tso'apittse kicking at his wife's breast hanging up there and it made him so mad. The third day he had looked over his arrows very carefully. One arrow had a longer point than the others, about four inches long. He thought his father must have put it in. It was an obsidian point. He went back that evening. He thought he would get him tonight. He shot a couple of ordinary arrows at Tso'apittse. Tso'apittse said, "So straws are tickling me." Then the young man took the arrow with the obsidian point and shot and it hit Tso'apittse's anus. Tso'apittse said, "Ooooh," and squirmed around. His children didn't know what was the matter. The young man watched Tso'apittse squirm and die.

--Anna Premo

Owyhee, Nevada

Tso'apittse started from his house to hunt for people. When he walked, the mountains shook. He sang, "I wonder if there are any Pine Nut Wood people here." He was walking in the forest to look for people to eat. As he came through the trees he saw a couple of fresh human tracks. The people were hunting cottontails. Tso'apittse said, "Ah, human cottontails have been here," and he looked to see which way the tracks went. He started at a trot to trail them. The people heard Tso'apittse coming and saying, "Whi, whi, whi, whi." That scared them. The only way they could get away was to climb up. So they started to climb up the hill and down the other side. When they got to the foot of the hill, there was an old woman camping there and they made for her house. The old woman said, "You keep going, I'll use my club on him." She dreamed that she was a monster-fighter.

Tso'apittse was already coming down, still hot on the tracks. The old woman was in the back of the house. Tso'apittse sat down and said, "Hudu." Then he got up and the old woman jumped up too and they had a hand-to-hand fight. Tso'apittse had a conical basket for packing things in. It was lined with pitch. He threw people inside and they stuck and couldn't escape. He tried to put the old woman in but he failed. The old woman finally threw Tso'apittse on his behind. he got up and saw the print of his behind on the ground. He got up crying and went home because he wasn't allowed to have the print of his behind on the ground.

So afterward, Tso'apittse tried to make another hunt. He looked for more human tracks. As he went over the saddle of mountain he came near a man who was traveling. The man stood still and froze with his arms outstretched like a tree. Tso'apittse walked right by him. Tso'apittse looked at the man then went on. He stopped again and looked. He was suspicious. He would go away and look back to see if it moved. The man was still there. Tso'apittse said, "What is it? A burnt stump?" He went back a way and looked again. He couldn't make up his mind what it was. Tso'apittse came right up close. The man just froze and he didn't dare breathe. Tso'apittse said, "He has a penis and a nose." He tickled him but the man didn't move. Tso'apittse pushed him over and the man fell with his arms out and he didn't move. Tso'apittse went away and said, "Oh, it's just a burned stump." The man didn't get up until Tso'apittse was gone. Tso'apittse kept going on down to the valley.

Near a big pine a couple of boys ran into him. Tso'apittse said, "Young human cottontails." He chased them around the junipers panting, "Tsoa whi whi, tsoa whi whi." They kept on chasing around in the junipers. He said, "I'm going to have a feast." They kept on running and the two boys hid behind a tree. When Tso'apittse wasn't looking they ran to another tree. They got up to the summit and looked back and saw Tso'apittse still running around the tree saying, "Whi, whi, whi." After a while when they were a long way off he started trailing them again. They went down the other side of the mountain and came to an old man's house and said to the old man and his wife, "Tso'apittse is chasing us." The old man was a doctor and he sat down and started singing and said, "You'd better go along home." The old man was calling on all his spirit helpers. He was calling the last one when Tso'apittse came in at a trot. Tso'apittse had big red eyes and he popped them out to look fierce. Tso'apittse sat down and said, "Hudu." The old man's wife was hiding back of the house. The doctor had all his spirit helpers. Tso'apittse was looking back the way he had come. The doctor made some waving motions with his hands over Tso'apittse's head and took out Tso'apittse's spirit and threw it back up the trail. Tso'apittse saw his spirit going up the trail and he jumped up and chased it back up the mountain.

Around Eureka on the hillside is a big rock that looks like a person. They say that is Tso'apittse's body where he died chasing his spirit.

--Herbert Holly (Tom Premo, translator)

Owyhee, Nevada

A man and his wife had one child. They kept telling him, "Don't cry or Tso'apittse will hear." He was an unruly child. Afterward they heard Tso'apittse coming. The mother and father went to the back of the house and hid. They were mad at the child. Tso'apittse came in and said, "Oh, my little granddaughter, here is some rat liver for you." He had some pitch and he warmed it in his hands and said, "Tsoawet," (deathly) and put his hands on her head. When he pulled them away her scalp came of with them. He took her home with him.

(When Tso'apittse comes, the children are held there by some power and the parents get away alone.)

So Tso'apittse went hunting again to find the father of the little girl. He came upon him and chased him and finally caught him and put him in his basket. Tso'apittse was going through the pine trees. The man reached up and grabbed a limb, and Tso'apittse went on without knowing the man had gotten away, and went home. Tso'apittse got home to his children and said, ":There is one human cottontail in my basket, go and look for it." They looked and said, "There's nothing here." Tso'apittse jumped up to see for himself. Then he started back to where he had caught the man. The man heard him coming and hid and watched him. A big blizzard came. The man started for Tso'apittse's house and cut a big pine club on the way. At the cave the man killed all Tso'apittse's children. Pretty soon he heard Tso'apittse coming and he blocked the door with trees and branches. Tso'apittse said, "What has grown in my door?" He shook it and could not get it out. Just as the trees were about to give, Tso'apittse gave up. He said, "It's cold." He tried gain, but had to give up. He couldn't move. Toward morning the man heard Tso'apittse cease whining. He was frozen. The man leaped out and saw Tso'apittse lying down, frozen to death. So he went off without making a sound. He thought Tso'apittse might just be sleeping. The man was never bothered anymore so he thought he must have killed him.

--Herbert Holly

(Tom Premo, translator)

Owyhee, Nevada

Cannibal Giant

Once there lived an old woman and her granddaughter. They went out every day to gather pitch from pine trees. One day hte Cannibal Giant found them. He chased them around. He can run fast. He chased them around a big tree. The grandmother and her granddaughter thought it was fun to have a giant chase them. They laughed. Soon they got tired. Then he caught them. He flicked his fingers at their nipples. Their breasts swelled up. Then he killed them and took them home. He ate their bodies, all except their breasts, which he cut off and hung up to dry. The grandfather went out to look for his wife and granddaughter when they didnt' come home. He found the giant's tracks and followed them to his cave where he found the giant asleep. He had his bow and arrows with him but he could not kill the giant. So he shot at his penis and that is how he killed the giant. The giant is like a rock.

--Mamie Bonamont

(Lily Pete, Translator)



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