By John W. Burns
Note: J. W. Burns was an Indian agent on the Chehalis reservation in the lower Fraser Valley of British Colombia, to whom we owe the popularization of the name Sasquatch. John W. Burns in his time wrote more than fifty Sasquatch related articles. During a request from The Vancouver Sun in 1957, Burns replied in a letter that he was amazed at the talk of searches for the Sasquatch. He said he “regrets that these harmless people of the wilderness are to be hunted with dogs as if they were criminals and if captured, exposed to the gaping and gaze of the curious. They have been referred to as monsters but they have committed no monstrous acts. It appears our veneer civilization does not hesitate to even use monsters for commercial purposes.” We should all salute Burns’ work documenting certain behaviors and characteristics of the early day Sasquatch; he was a true pioneer truly deserving of a noticeable place in Sasquatch research history.
“And now let me illustrate how extremely sensitive the Indians are regarding the Sasquatch and how indignantly they resent their word being doubted.”
“On May 23rd, 1938 a festival known as “Indian Sasquatch Days” was held at Harrison Hot Springs, B.C. Having obtained special permission from the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa, I took several hundred of my charges to the event. Unfortunately, in his opening speech over the radio, a very prominent official of the British Columbia Government made a bad slip, thus offending all the Indians present who understood English. After a few preliminary remarks, this personage went on: “Of course, the Sasquatch are merely legendary Indian monsters. No white man has ever seen one and they do not exist today in fact……”
“There upon his voice was drowned by a great rustling of buckskin garments and the tinkling of ornamental bells as, in response to an indignant gesture from old Chief Flying Eagle, more than two thousand Red men rose to their feet in angry protest. Chief Flying Eagle then stalked across to the open space where the speaker stood surrounded by important dignitaries and others. Absolutely ignoring the entire group, Chief Flying Eagle turned to the microphone and thundered in excellent English:
“The white speaker is wrong! To all who now hear… I say: Some white men have seen Sasquatch.” Many Indians have seen them and spoken to them. The Sasquatch is still all around here. I have spoken!”
“The Chief then strode back to his place and signed to the other Indians to sit down leaving behind him the Government spokesman whose face was exceedingly red! I was one of the party gathered about the microphone and immediately said a few words over the loud speakers to appease the angry Indians. I corroborated Chief Flying Eagle’s statement that white men have seen Sasquatch adding that, although in sadly reduced numbers, Sasquatches are still believed to inhabit the vast mountain solitudes of unexplored British Columbia.”
Photo: First Sasquatch Days in Harrison Hot Springs, BC, 1938.