Frame 352 of the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film, which allegedly depicts a Sasquatch walking in Northern California.

Frame 352 of the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film, which allegedly depicts a Sasquatch walking in Northern California.

Bigfoot eludes state recognition yet again

A twice-failed bill would have named the mythic creature as the official state cryptid.

The mythical Sasquatch, an integral piece of Pacific Northwest folklore, got another shot at recognition this year with a bill that would name the creature Washington’s official state cryptid. But just as it has done to so many explorers and scientists, the furry, bipedal creature once again evaded legislative capture.

In case you didn’t know, a cryptid is a creature of folklore or myth whose existence has not been verified.

Senate Bill 5816 was introduced last year by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, but has not made it past the committee stage in either of the past two legislative sessions. The bill is one of two pieces of Bigfoot legislation, along with another Rivers bill that would create a Bigfoot license plate.

The Sasquatch would join other local greats like the apple, the steelhead trout and the bluebunch wheatgrass as Washington state emblems.

Rivers said a third-grader in her district asked her to create the bill, but a public hearing was postponed until the senator could bring the child to Olympia to testify. The bill missed the cutoff date for committee hearings and will have to wait until next year to earn another chance at passing.

Bigfoot’s relationship with the Pacific Northwest has been prominent since long before Rivers filed bills addressing the mysterious hominid.

Native American and First Nations tribes in the United States and Canada have told of various creatures resembling Sasquatch, and the name itself is derived from a word in the Halkomelem language spoken by tribes in British Columbia.

According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, Washington state is home to more Sasquatch sightings than any other state or province in North America, by a substantial margin.

Washington has another connection to the popular myth through the famous Patterson-Gimlin film, where Bigfoot allegedly walks across the screen. The encounter was filmed in Northern California by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, locals of the Yakima Valley.

Patterson died of cancer in 1972 and always maintained the authenticity of the film, as has Gimlin, 86, who resides today in Union Gap.

Gimlin said he would be excited to see the Sasquatch become an official symbol of his home state, callingit a “special being.” Gimlin today is something of a legend to members Sasquatch believers, as he continues to tour North America, signing autographs and speaking to thousands of attendees at Bigfoot festivals.

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, cited the Patterson-Gimlin film as “evidence” of Bigfoot’s existence when speaking in the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 29. Chase serves as a member of the committee, which heard Rivers’ license plate bill.

Although SB 5816 would classify Sasquatch as the official state “cryptid” or “crypto-animal,” Gimlin said he doesn’t see the creatures as animals at all, and likened them instead to hominid “beings,” similar to humans.

“I’m no scientist,” Gimlin said. “I just believe that we have a ways to go to understand what they really are.”

Washington state has already honored Bigfoot at least once, as former Gov. Dan Evans in 1970 proclaimed “the Great Sasquatch” to be state monster. Evans wrote in his proclamation that Washington was the only state capable of claiming the creature to be its own.

Gimlin made reference to the vast number of brands, images and merchandise in Washington state that utilize the Bigfoot name or likeness, cementing the cryptid’s iconic status in the Pacific Northwest. He said if the state could come together to bring official recognition to the legend, it would put a smile on his face.

“That would make me, as an old man, very very happy,” Gimlin said. “I think it means a lot to Washington state.”

This report was produced by the Olympia bureau of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

More in Northwest

Safeco Field funding referendum withdrawn

The mysterious backers of the initiative won’t say why, but some think it’s because they couldn’t get funding to gather the necessary signatures.

Metro revises timeline for RapidRide bus expansion

After originally aiming to build 20 additional fast-service bus lines on high demand routes by 2040, King County Metro has changed its construction timelines and put 13 of those projects on hold.

Rape allegation against Sen. Joe Fain divides King County Council

In a recent interview, Councilmember Kathy Lambert blamed Fain’s accuser for the alleged rape. Then Lambert’s colleagues distanced themselves from her comments.

County officials warn of more HIV among homeless drug users

In total, 19 heterosexual individuals have been diagnosed with HIV in King County over the past year, up from seven last year.

Housing Crisis Fuels Opposition to Safeco Field Investment

Coalition calls on King County Council to divert public money away from stadium maintenance and put it toward affordable housing

The man on Iron Mountain

Chuck Pillon has been living on a 10-acre junk-filled property near Renton for decades.

Safe consumption part 3: The opposite of addiction

Final episode of our three-part series on controversial supervised consumption sites

Safe consumption: The debate

In the first of a three-part series, we enter into the heated, emotional, and sometimes bitter debate around one of the most controversial policy proposals in the country.

Olympic National Park to start capturing mountain goats this summer

Park Service releases record of decision on relocating, killing animals

Legislators and activists seek solutions to farmer suicides

Agricultural workers end their own lives at a higher rate than workers in any other profession.

The Rev. Michael Curry, left, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church who gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month, was in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon for a rally that sought to highlight homelessness. Photo by Scott Johnston
Bishop Curry speaks at Aberdeen affordable-housing rally

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month.

Defendant in 1987 slayings of BC couple pleads not guilty

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court.