Even The Search For Bigfoot Has its Slow Moments
Every Conference has its nodding moments. There were a solid dozen presentations at the Primal People’s Conference and I wish I could say all of them were fascinating, engaging, or offered something new to the study. Sadly they did not. But they are still worth mentioning for one reason or another, so rather than give each of them a full article I will lump them together into one catch-all.
Jaime Avalos was unable to be present, but through the wonders of modern technology, Skyped his presentation to us in Richland from his California home. Primarily Jaime offered up his collection of footprints, claiming to have followed certain individuals from youth to maturity over the years through the recurrence of their prints. He also offered an earnest plea and potential reward for anyone who could give information that the footprints he regularly recovered were faked or made by humans, or put him in touch with the people making them.
While Jaime has worked on developing new techniques and mixtures of plaster to improve the quality of his castings, footprints in general have been always controversial in terms of public acceptance as they are typically dismissed as fake. In my conversations with others at the conference question was raised about the validity of his methods of tracking and his discretion when identifying the origin of prints. As he states that he always works alone and destroys all evidence after taking his casts and otherwise recording his finds I have to wonder if his search isn’t more about himself than the subject of Bigfoot? The idea of destroying evidence in scientific pursuit bothers me considerably. To learn more you can find his website at: Sierrasasquatch.com
He does claim to receive gifts from the Bigfoot that he studies. Among them, feathers, snakes and once a squeezed chipmunk. Though that one might have been a warning. Gifting, as it is referred to is not something I was aware of, but many presenters offered the same information, one in quite unique fashion and you will hear that story later but I will tell you that apparently Bigfoot have a sense of humor.
This conference was the baby of Thom Cantrall, author of Ghosts of Ruby Ridge,
A fast paced adventure set in the wilderness of northern Idaho, Ghosts of Ruby Ridge is a tale that cuts to the heart of American values.
Thom put a lot of time and effort into this conference, and from my conversation with him, potential cost to his health. For that the field of Bigfoot research should be, and genuinely is grateful. His offering at the podium was probably of value to anyone who is a complete novice to the search for Bigfoot, but beyond that only a reiteration of the value of the Patterson/Gimlin film analysis that has been recurring for many years: Expert testimony from Hollywood special effects experts, anatomical comparisons, and challenging anyone claiming it to be fake to offer up the suit. His presentation served as a light overview and introduction to what others would be saying, and that is fine, but as such probably should have gone first in the line up. We can leave it at that.
The most anticipated presentation fell flat. When I arrived Friday evening for the Meet and Greet one of the first things I heard was that Dr. Melba Ketchum would not be present due to an unavoidable conflict. My hearth was in my throat at that, but the good news was that she would be on Skype and present remotely. Well, so long as the information was there…this was one of the main reasons I attended.
Saturday arrived and it was time for Dr. Ketchum’s presentation and we were informed of another snag, she uploaded a power-point presentation and would be on the phone for narration. Well, hope flagged a little, but still, here was the reason so many of us had attended.
The bulk of Dr. Ketchum’s presentation had nothing to do with Bigfoot. She introduced herself and gave us her background and the groundwork for her research and methods. That at least was reassuring. Her knowledge of her field, and experience within it is considerable, in fact would seem to have been one of the pioneers in her field and Bigfoot research is lucky to have her efforts. This was followed by a lengthy description of how it has been applied in cases also having nothing to do with Bigfoot, but at least served to demonstrate that the application of her work is taken seriously and treated as evidence in a court of law.
Now, Dr. Ketchum did state in reply to a question that she believes Bigfoot can/will be proven on DNA evidence alone. Personally I do not see how that is possible without a sample from a known specimen. It seems to me that all that can be proven is that a creature exists whose DNA puts it in the primate family, which her results do indeed show, and that it is not human, which again they do show, but beyond that is only subjective opinion as I see it and there is too much of that in the field already.
On the lighter side, Dr. Ketchum receives many hair samples for Bigfoot Candidates and treats them all with an equal hand. Many do not turn out to be of cryptid origins:
That over with, it gets interesting from here.