Stories of Pahi-zoho, Bigfoot, in Central California. Sasquatch
My relatives have told me stories of the encounters that the Paiute people had with the Big Foots or Sasquatch as they are sometimes called. In the Paiute language we have different names for them, one is Pahi-zoho. There were some with red hair, brown hair and black hair. The red headed ones were said to be the meanest.
They were not like the bears or Grizzlies that the Paiutes shared space with in the high sierra, but big hairy human like creatures that Paiute people were afraid of. The Big Foots and Indians always tried to keep away from each other, but sometimes during hard times the Big Foots would eat young Indian children who wandered away from the group. Once they tasted human flesh the Paiutes believed they would hunt humans.
Just before John C. Fremont had arrived there was a group of red headed Pahi-zohos or Big Foots living north of Pyramid Lake. This group had been carrying off the Paiutes’ children and eating them. They had been a scourge and a problem to the Paiute people around the area. So the Paiutes decide to get rid of them. The Paiutes found their cave and were hiding in the sagebrush, but the Pahi-zohos smelled the wind and got the scent of the Paiutes and the Pahi-zohos ran into the cave. The Paiutes swarmed the entrance of the cave and filled the entrance with sagebrush. They set the sagebrush on fire and heard the screams and grunts of the Pahi-zohos in the cave as they died. The fire was so intense it burned everything. After that the Paiutes did not have any problems with the red-head giant Big Foots or Sasqatches in the area.
One was a story told by my grandmother of her mother’s scary encounter while camping with a band of Paiutes at the base of Cooper Peak in Tuolumne County, California. There was a place in the area called Mogul-numa (Mokelnume) named after the big granite peaks in the Sierra, in the Paiute language Mogul-numa meant Granite People because we believed the granite spires were live beings. The old people believed they were benevolent beings who watched over the people. The Paiutes were on their usual trip to fish along the creeks and lakes in the area and it was during the summer time on a warm moon filled night. Some of the people were sleeping outside of their willow brush houses after a night of visiting and talking. Suddenly one of the older men told everyone to be quiet because something or someone was approaching. Everyone got really still and some huddled together thinking it might be a bear or some other nightly spirit. They heard a noise that was not like a bear, but a different type of sound. There was also a smell, a terrible horrible smell that my great-grandmother told her daughter that she remembered that she would never forget. She remember seeing one of the men stretching his neck and peering into a clearing and she saw his eyes get really big, as big as winnowing basket. He mumbled quietly “Pahi-zoho, pahi-zoho”. One of the old women started to use her spirit guide to scare the Big Foot away. She repeatedly spoke calling her spirit. There was something moving around, but suddenly it stopped for less than a minute, then it started to move away. One of the men told the old woman to keep calling her spirit guide to scare away the Big Foot. After awhile the noise stopped, but the children were now quietly crying and sobbing. Old man Yankee asked the man what he saw in the clearing, was it the Pahi-zoho or a bear? He said he clearly saw it, it was a Pahi-zoho in the moon light. He said the Pahi-zoho was rummaging around bent over where some of the Paiute children had left some fish bones. That it was not a bear, but a large hairy man like creature bent over picking up the bones. That he had hands and not paws like a bear. He said as he watched him and that when the old woman was summoning her spirit guide he looked up, turned in his head in different directions, smelled the air and then quickly ran into the brush. The sound of her praying or the prayer itself had scared the Big Foot away. That night no one slept, the children afraid of being carried away by the Pahi-zoho and the older people up to make sure he did not attack them. The next day the leader of the camp said it was time to move on and they continued on, but my great-grandmother never forgot that night of the Pahi-zoho visit on her camp.
Red Big Foot
In the other story my uncle had heard that a few of the Mono Lake Paiute girls were out gathering berries in Piute Meadows, which is located in northern Yosemite National Park. When suddenly one of the girls who was on the edge of the meadow by the trees was heard screaming. The girls ran over there as one of the girls went to call the men. There was no trace of her. She had vanished. The people believed that she was taken by a Grizzly bear or some spirit had captured her. At the camp the family cried and was inconsolable, but the people had to go on. The next day the people started up the hill to trek along the Sierra suddenly in rear was heard a screaming and yelling. It was the girl crying, upset and yelling nonsensical things. She was moving her hands wildly and pointing back to the wooded area. She told the people that as she was picking berries along the meadow by the edge of the forest when a Big Foot or Pahi-zoho had come out behind a tree and grabbed her. He was big, reddish and hairy and she screamed and screamed. He had carried her off and she thought for sure he was going to eat her, but instead he took her into the bushes and forced himself on her. She said he stunk so bad, that it was making her sick and it was extremely painful, that he didn’t talk but grunted all that time. She was too scared to look at him, but could see his reddish big hands and hairy legs and feet, that even his feet had hair on them. They didn’t look human. She said after awhile he just went to sleep, but still had her in his grip in his arms. That his arms were very large and she just laid there scared and thinking that after that he was going to kill her. That he snorted and snored loudly all night long and suddenly almost in the morning he completely lost his grip and she made a quick dash. She ran like she had never run before for she feared for her life. Now she was safe with her people and her family, but later on she started to show signs of pregnancy. The people stayed clear of her accept her friends and family. Nine months later she had a son, a big red headed baby boy who was very hairy. The people were scared at first and some of the men wanted to kill him, but the girl’s mother prevented them. Later the people accepted him into the group for he was a good hunter and he had uncanny natural abilities of sight and smell and was very strong. He married and his children came out more normal looking, but every now and then one of his descendents comes out hairy and with red hair. Many of his descendents are now scattered in many of the Paiute tribes in California and Nevada.