Bigfoot Language and the Strange Kidnapping of Albert Ostman

There have been many strange cases of supposed Bigfoot interactions with humans over the years, from sighting to video footage and beyond. On some very weird occasions there have been those individuals who have claimed to have been actually abducted by these beasts, and in the process gained supposed insight into their lifestyle and behavior. By far the most well-known and talked about alleged Bigfoot kidnapping, as well as one of the strangest, concerns the Canadian prospector and lumberjack Albert Ostman. In 1924, Ostman went on vacation to the rugged wilderness near Toba Inlet, British Columbia, Canada. One of his purposes at the time was to try and find what he claimed to be a long-lost gold mine that he was convinced existed out there in the dense forests, which is already odd and intriguing enough as it is but would be overshadowed by the bizarreness of what would purportedly happen to him during his trip. This would all spiral into not only a very bizarre case of a Bigfoot kidnapping, but also a case concerning the idea that Bigfoot might actually have language.

While on his journey into these remote badlands, Ostman’s Indian guide told him that the man who had allegedly originally found the lost gold mine was rumored to have been killed by a Sasquatch, which was according to Ostman the first time he had ever heard of such creatures, despite having long been a hardened outdoorsman. The Indian explained about the large, hairy man-like beasts they called the Sasquatch and told of the large footprints they left behind, but Ostman at the time did not believe a word of it, instead chalking it up to crazy old Native legends. Not long after this, the two made camp and Ostman headed out on his own with some supplies in a pack and armed with his rifle and a knife to investigate a pass through the mountains that he had seen, as well as to do some prospecting.

Albert Ostman

On the 4th night of these strange incidents, Ostman went to bed fully clothed, with both his knife and rifle within easy reach, and this time he had intended to stay awake all night in order to catch the trespasser, but he eventually fell into a deep sleep. At some point, he claims he was awoken by something picking him up, sleeping bag and all, and he groggily thought it might be a snow slide, although there was no snow in the area at the time. He said that he then felt as if he had been put up on horseback, and that whatever was carrying him was walking. He couldn’t see anything, as he was wrapped up in his sleeping bag, and he desperately grabbed for his rifle as he tried to figure out who or what was carrying him along. Unable to move and with various equipment sticking into him uncomfortably, Ostman could only wait there in the encroaching dark and see where he was being taken. Whatever had captured him seemed to be taking Ostman uphill, as he could feel each step lifting upwards, and he began to notice that the thing was breathing heavily, as well as occasionally letting out coughing noises and strange chattering sounds that he would later claim to be some sort of language.

For 3 hours Ostman was carried like this through the wilderness, when suddenly his sleeping bag was dumped onto the ground and he warily peeked outside. Although it was too dark at the time for him to clearly see what was out there, he could vaguely make out large, dark shapes and hear what sounded like several large creatures chattering unintelligibly amongst each other, and it seemed to be a family of the very hairy humanoids his old Indian guide had told him about. Ostman called out to ask what the creatures wanted and was answered with more of the chattering sounds. He thought of escape, but his legs were too badly cramped and painful for him to even walk, let alone run away. As it got lighter outside, Ostman claims that he could finally make out four humanoid creatures, unclothed and fully covered in shaggy hair. According to him, there were two big ones, which seemed to be the father, which was a massive specimen about 8 feet tall, and the mother, as well as two smaller ones, which looked to be children, a boy and a girl, with “smaller” meaning that they were only around 6 to 7 feet tall. Ostman would later say of their appearance:

The young fellow might have been between 11-18 years old and about seven feet tall and might weight about 300 lbs. His chest would be 50-55 inches, his waist about 36-38 inches. He had wide jaws, narrow forehead, that slanted upward round at the back about four or five inches higher than the forehead. The hair on their heads was about six inches long. The hair on the rest of their body was short and thick in places. The women’s hair on the forehead had an upward turn like some women have — they call it bangs, among women’s hair-do’s. Nowadays the old lady could have been anything between 40-70 years old. She was over seven feet tall. She would be about 500-600 pounds. She had very wide hips, and a goose-like walk. She was not built for beauty or speed. Some of those lovable brassieres and uplifts would have been a great improvement on her looks and her figure. The man’s eyeteeth were longer than the rest of the teeth, but not long enough to be called tusks. The old man must have been near eight feet tall. Big barrel chest and big hump on his back — powerful shoulders, his biceps on upper arm were enormous and tapered down to his elbows. His forearms were longer than common people have, but well proportioned. His hands were wide, the palm was long and broad, and hollow like a scoop. His fingers were short in proportion to the rest of his hand. His fingernails were like chisels. The only place they had no hair was inside their hands and the soles of their feet and upper part of the nose and eyelids. I never did see their ears, they were covered with hair hanging over them.

Image by Steve Baxter

The creatures did not seem threatening or aggressive towards Ostman at all, and indeed the young ones seemed a little frightened of him, but neither did they seem ready to let him leave. According to Ostman, for the next 6 days the family of Sasquatch forcefully kept him there, with the large male constantly nearby and sitting at the only obvious escape route. During this time, Ostman claimed that the family of creatures slept within a shelter lined and covered with bark and dry moss and that gradually the curious creatures would come closer to observe him, including the younger ones. The family of Sasquatch also offered Ostman food in the form of nuts and a type of sweet grass, which the young boy Sasquatch would deftly climb up the mountain to get. In return, Ostman would let it play with his snuff box, which it would practice opening and closing, as well as tasting the snuff inside. When the young male seemed to demand one for his sister, Ostman gave her a snuff box as well. For the most part, the adults were described as mostly resting all day while the children climbed and played.

During this time, he would claim that the creatures spoke to each other using what was obviously some sort of language rather than random grunts and growls, and he even claimed that he was able to pick up certain words they used for things. For instance, when the adult male wanted Ostman to sit down and stay put, it would say “soka, soka,” and when they offered him water, they used the word “ook” every time. Ostman would deduce that “soke” meant “stay” and “ook” meant “water” or “drink.” There were many instances of this, and Ostman would say that he began to pick up certain words, and that when he used these words the Bigfoot responded appropriately, so in a sense he was learning their language. The more time he spent with them, the more complex their communications seemed, and they even seemed to be using gestures and facial expressions to communicate ideas, as well as foot stomping. Although this was all very fascinating to him, there came a point where he wanted to get out of there and go home.

His first few tries to escape met with failure. Ostman claimed that on several occasions he had picked up his rifle and tried to walk out of there, but that the large male had stood in front of him holding his hands out and vocalizing irritably. Although Ostman had his rifle, he chose not to fire upon the creatures, as they seemed remarkably human, showed no inclination towards harming him, and he was not sure if his rifle would even hurt the massive beast, instead possibly only serving to anger it. Considering that the younger ones seemed to like playing with the snuff boxes so much and licking at the remaining snuff within, and that the father had also shown interest in them, Ostman began to concoct a plan to incapacitate or even kill the large adult male by feeding him a full box of snuff, after which he felt confident that he would be able to escape with little resistance.

Image by Steve Baxter

Finally, one day Ostman opened a new box of snuff and took a dose, and at the same time the adult male had reportedly suddenly snatched it away and emptied the entire contents into his mouth, even going so far as to thoroughly lick out any remnants. As predicted, the male Sasquatch fell violently ill and Ostman made a run for it, reportedly firing his rifle over the mother’s head as she pursued him and scaring her off. After some time of slogging through the wilderness, ever wary of being followed by the family of Sasquatch, Ostman was finally rescued by some loggers and brought back to civilization. Ostman would keep his story quiet for decades, afraid of ridicule, until increasing reports of Bigfoot sightings in the 1950s persuaded him to finally come forth with his sensational tale in 1957. Albert Ostman’s amazing story has been picked apart and debated ever since, with some calling him a liar and others pointing to it as genuine evidence of Bigfoot, as well as everything in between but we may never know the truth. Whether Ostman’s account is true or the product of an active imagination, it is certainly one of the stranger and more detailed reports of Bigfoot kidnappings.

What makes it all even more intriguing, other than the fact that this was a Bigfoot kidnapping like something out of a tabloid newspaper, is the detailed mention of an actual language being used by the creatures. There has long been the theory that Sasquatch, if they are even real at all, might have developed some form of primitive language or proto-language, and they have been reported as using many methods of communicating, including whoops, howls, grunts, barks, bellows, and in some cases what seem to be actual words, even able to understand and mimic human speech. Vocal communication is not new to primates in general, as they are able to communicate simple ideas with certain calls, but humans are the only known species with what could be strictly defined as a language, in that it has grammar, syntax, and a set vocabulary. If Bigfoot are real, and are using some form of language, it would be pretty amazing. Linguist Ronald Cosper has said of this:

Linguists have maintained that possession of language is a unique attribute of human beings. Earlier scholars claimed that humans invented language and learned to speak, passing this ability on to subsequent generations. More recently, the universality of language has convinced most linguists that language is a biologically based ability of human beings, and that we are genetically programmed to acquire language and speak. It has been discovered that although human languages differ considerably among themselves, they all have certain structural traits in common. If we are going to maintain that language is an evolutionary product, it is obviously important to study vocal communication in other species. Some primates are said to have systems of “calls,” and others communicate with various actions and displays.

 

If sasquatch are a close human relative, it would be extremely important to understand their vocal communication. Such knowledge would revolutionize our understanding of human language. Linguistics could then become a truly comparative field of study, in which language would be seen as one type of communication that evolved in certain circumstances among some species. It may be true that sasquatch have vocal communication similar to language, as quite a few of the observational reports of sasquatch indicate. Of course, many of these reports are observations of single individuals, and it is unlikely that speaking would occur in these situations. However, when several sasquatch are present together, there are often reports of “languagelike” behavior. Also occurring are various other oral noises, less similar to articulated language, and more like noises or cries made by other species of primate. Long distance communication may also be carried on by sounds like whistles, howls, etc.

Image by Steve Baxter

Cosper has even gone so far as to suggest that Bigfoot may have different dialects or accents, perhaps even completely different languages over their range. After all, this is a creature reported from all over North America, so it certainly seems as if there would be variations and it is kind of fun to think about. Cosper has said of it:

In the future, the question of dialectal variation must also be considered. In the present day, human language changes pretty much continuously, and groups out of touch with each other rapidly developed different dialects, and, ultimately, different languages. Sasquatch reputedly occupy a large territory (North America?), and we may not be able to expect that their verbal communication will be the same over the entire area. On the other hand, mobility, inter-communication, and limitations of the system may tend to stabilize the language of sasquatch over their range. The experiences in the case of Ostman in British Columbia suggest that further successful research on sasquatch communication would be similar to that of present-day anthropological fieldwork and of primatological field research on chimpanzees and gorillas, in that it is important to establish trust and familiarity among those you are studying. Such a relationship would be difficult, but probably not impossible to establish in the case of sasquatch, for only in that way can a sympathetic understanding of their lifeways be attained. Especially in cognitive matters and communication, intimate contact is required.

There is no way to know what was really going on here. Indeed, Ostman’s claims have been heavily picked apart and criticized, but he always maintained that his account was true. Did this man actually spend time in the company of these creatures and manage to gain insight into their very language? Or is this all a hoax or the ravings of a delusional mind? It has not ever really been solved, and at the very least Albert Ostman’s alleged ordeal gives us a potential peek into a world of the Bigfoot that goes on mostly in the background beyond our grasp.

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