The pictures have become part of American counterculture and started a 50 year search. The tall hairy man-like figure walking in a half step and looking cautiously around, unaware of the photographer. It was these images that inspired a generation to hunt for a primitive bipedal beings. These creatures (Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Jacko, or any number of other name cultures have assigned to it) are the topic of focus for The Hairy Man at The Tube Factory Artspace and the upcoming talk by Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum.
Meldrum is a professor at Idaho State University and has a Ph.D. in anatomical sciences and focuses on physical anthropologies of bipedal organisms. For many of his colleagues this would mean he studies the great apes, which he does, but for him it continues into the realm of the unknown. He has a personal collection of 300 castes of footprints that he considers proof of the existence of Sasquatches.
“It’s by far the most compelling body of data that something does indeed exist, that goes unrecognized by mainstream science,” Meldrum explained during a phone interview. Meldrum teaches a full load and takes time to research, lecture on his findings, and edit and online scholarly journal dedicated to the research of providing evidence of Sasquatches.
Meldrum first became interested in Sasquatches when he was 11 years old. He heard of a show that had come to town and advertised the proof of Bigfoot. Roger Patterson came through Spokane, Washington, in 1968 showing his documentary film, the now infamous Patterson-Gimlin film. Meldrum went with has father and brother to hear Patterson speak. After seeing Patterson he joined Patterson’s Northwest Research Association, which sent him photographic prints which he still has to this day.
After the film he grew up and became interested in dinosaurs and became interested in all things prehistoric. The clip of the Patterson-Gimlin film and his new love of cavemen launched him toward studying physical anthropology of bipedal creatures.
Meldrum will be speaking at The Tube Factory on Saturday, Feb. 25, to speak about the 50th anniversary of the Patterson-Gimlin film.
When asked if he believes the film is credible he said it was absolutely some of the best evidence believers have to point to.
“Absolutely. I can very confidently assert that that is a credible film. If I had just the footprints I would be convinced, but having the footprints and the clear view of the feet and legs and body of the footprint maker is all the more convincing,” he said. “That film has held up under various scrutinies. I mean there are some people who have convinced themselves that they have proved it to be a hoax, but their evaluations have never held up.”
Meldrum has since became personal friends with Bob Gimlin, one of the filmmakers, years after it was filmed.
Meldrum explained that Sasquatches aren’t “wretched monsters,” but a form of primitive animals. His best guess is that there are possibly 2,000 Sasquatches living in the western U.S. and Canada, and they are solitary individuals that live well into their 50s and 70s. He explained that they aren’t similar to humans because they lack social structures and don’t have tools or home bases.
Meldrum speaks nearly monthly at regional conferences for Sasquatch researchers, museums, universities, tribes, parks and recs, and federal agencies.
The Hairy Man was curated by author and Sasquatch researcher Christopher L. Murphy and is running until April 15. The exhibit features artifacts, stories, and evidence (including a seven foot tall skeleton and large footprints) to better understand the Sasquatch.
“The exhibit is a collection of Sasquatch/Bigfoot artifacts, artwork, and literature (posters/panels) that trace the being (we don't like calling it a "creature") in both Native culture and non-Native culture. What I provide is essentially the best we have for "evidence" that the being exists, although that speculation is left to the observer. The scientific analysis of footprints is provided; it has been determined that prints were made by a natural foot,” Murphy wrote in an email.
Murphy first became interested in researching Sasquatches when his son took an anthropology class and was tasked with a presentation on Bigfoot. His son found that a Bigfoot expert was living in Richmond, British Columbia at the time and asked his father to take him to interview the expert. The pair hit it off and worked together for a few years.
Murphy has written books about his research, including “Meet the Sasquatch.”
“I collected information and artifacts and wrote books on the subject. Of course I am interested in the being itself, but my contribution is to provide the history, sighting reports and cultural aspects. Although one might question the being's existence, it cannot be denied that it has been in Native culture for probably thousands of years. It came into non-Native culture in the early 1700s as more and more people came to North America from Europe and other countries. In other words, they saw it as well as the Native people. Early newspapers carried articles about sightings and so forth and as a result the being found a place in non-Native culture,” Murphy wrote.
While the Sasquatch is not recognized by “mainstream science,” Meldrum and Murphy hope to convince a few more people that there is more in the woods that we realize.
The Tube Factory is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, with The Hairy Man exhibit being open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Meldrum’s talk costs $5 on Feb. 25 at 4 p.m.
“The Tube Factory is about people and place, and the human activity of exploring and examining the mysteries of life are a vital part of our culture — in the past and today,” Jim Walker, CEO of Big Car Collaborative, said in a press release.