Big Foot sighted in the Badlands of North Dakota?

KEYWORDS: Big Foot strange sightings Badlands North Dakota Badlands Sasquatch Fort Berthold reservation tales of creatures Big Foot sightings traditional stories Big Foot on Indian reservations modern mystery

AUTHOR: Doreen Yellow Bird

Tales of creatures that disturb our mundane and everyday lives are not uncommon. To claim, however, that you’ve seen such a creature is to hear snickers or out-loud laughing. Yet, when I heard what happened on the Fort Berthold reservation near New Town, N.D., I wondered. It was a sighting of one of most common of these creatures – Sasquatch or Big Foot. In one corner of the North Dakota Badlands at the entrance of the Fort Berthold reservation, a road runs along the benchlands then winds down several miles of switchbacks to the bottomland. You have to drive down a steeply curved road. When you get to the bottom, the road splits. The new road continues to a wider, lower bridge.

The old road, which cars no longer can use, now is overgrown with grass and willow. Both roads cross the Little Missouri River, sometimes called the Muddy Missouri. You have entered the wildly beautiful and rough Badlands.

A few miles east of the new road, the old road crosses the river by an old metal bridge – a bridge that was built when the area was being explored many years ago by white men. It was lost by its builders in a labyrinth of wild, endless, mountainous cliffs and cutoffs. Hence, the old bridge is called “Lost Bridge.”

It was there that a man and his son, who live in the area, the other day spotted what they said may have been Big Foot. The creature was walking on the highway that leads to the bridge, the men said.

The time was early evening. As the men watched, the creature dropped immediately down the steep side of the road. It walked in the snow for about half a mile and came back to the road, they told the tribal natural resources department.

Two men from that department went out to the area to investigate. One of the young men said they did find tracks, but the sun had started to melt them, and there wasn’t enough left to provide clear evidence. Still, you could see the outline of five toes in some of the many tracks at the site, the department official said. But the tracks weren’t conclusive.

The official didn’t know what to make of all this, but seemed skeptical that it was, indeed, Big Foot. Last week, a husband and wife and their children saw a large creature moving very fast across the snowdrifts beyond the back yard, they said. They were beside themselves and called their neighbor. The neighbor said he saw something big moving across the snow, too. The dogs, he said, were acting strange and were antsy, not like it was something they usually see.

He and another friends jumped into their four-wheelers and drove to the area. When they got there, they saw a man cross-country skiing. That could have been what the people saw, he said. But there was doubt in his voice. The man was much smaller than what the people said they saw. The skier, for his part, said he hadn’t seen anything.

The incident was reported to the police, but the police found nothing significant.

There are other recent stories of sightings, but none as well-documented as the two I mentioned above. That includes another sighting west of New Town near the old S & L Bar.

John Danks, a retired Bureau of Indian Affairs worker and elder rancher in the community, said he’d heard of Big Foot sightings on the reservation for the last 20 years. He hasn’t had such a sighting himself but certainly has heard of them.

When you live in a place where there are stretches of lands where no human has walked and no plow has touched, stories of creatures are not uncommon. As a child, I, too, heard and saw things that certainly were strange.

Our traditional stories tell of beings who live with us but cannot be seen by human beings. So, I don’t discount the sightings. There are many mysteries that even scientists cannot explain, at least to our satisfaction.

But I am at a wait-and-see stage in this incident. And after hearing the reports from those reliable people who saw the creatures, I am wondering.


Doreen Yellow Bird writes columns for the Grand Forks Herald on Tuesday and Saturday. Reach her at 780-1228 or (800) 477-6572, extension 228, or by email at


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