For the believers and skeptics alike, hearing the name Sasquatch Island will make you stop and scratch your head, asking, “Where is that? Why haven’t I heard of this place?” Chances are, you have already been there. You probably even live there.
Sasquatch Island is the name given by the Kwakwaka’ wakh First Nations tribe to North America. The Kwakwaka’ wakh people’s home territory spans from Campbell River, B.C. to the northern tip of Vancouver Island and encompasses the more than two hundred islands comprising the Broughton Archipelago between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland.
The glacially carved islands and fjords contain some of the most pristine wilderness in North America. The area has become a bucket list destination for kayaking, sailing, whale watching, wildlife viewing and experiencing native cultural traditions.
To get there, the easiest way is to arrive by boat. You can take a cruise up to Alaska and you will pass through the area, but you will only get a glimpse of the scenery and it will likely leave you wanting for more. For the traveler on a budget, try the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system out of Bellingham Washington or the numerous B.C. Ferry routes. When you get to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, just before entering the open waters of the Queen Charlotte Strait, you will pass by a small island and the town of Alert Bay. The ferry captain will announce, “To your left is the largest Totem Pole in the world.”
You will want to stop in Alert Bay, but unfortunately the small island community is not on the tourist stop list. To reach Alert Bay, your best chance is to reach out to local native, Thomas Sewid. Tom will be happy to take you whale watching or fishing. He’ll be happy to set you up on a kayaking trip to some of the most desolate islands in in North America. But what he’s most renowned for is his Sasquatch sighting adventures.
To hear a fascinating history of the Kwakwaka’ wakh Nation’s traditions, check out the recent podcast on the Sasquatch Syndicate During the episode, Tom emphasizes several things to watch out for if you dare to venture into the Broughton Archipelago.
The most important thing to know is that the island chain is well known for its ripping tidal currents. If you’re not careful, your vessel will be left either high and dry, or swept out to sea. The fluctuations between low and high tide regularly vary by 15 feet. This tidal swing is what also provides for one of the most abundant amounts of protein in the world in the form of shellfish. Any native of the Pacific Northwest coast will have fond memories of walking out on the beach at low tide with bucket and shovel in hand and learning the art of clam digging from their elders.
It’s all fun and games, however if you aren’t aware of the Dzunukwa, Dzunuḵ̓wa (possibly pronounced "doo-zoo-noo-kwah") also known as the wild woman of the woods, things can turn tragic in a heartbeat. When landing on an island beach at low tide, local tribal members recommend walking up to the high tide line and investigating. Thomas Sewid remembers his elders looking for footprints. If they saw large footprints in the sand, it meant that the Dzunukwa was harvesting that particular beach. It was best if the family migrated down the coast a mile or two and get out of the way.
All children of the coastal northwest tribes have a similar version of the Dzunukwa. Every night parents and elders warned you as you were lying in bed. If you misbehaved, chances are the Dzunukwa would come take you in her basket at night and eat you in the woods.
Do you have experiences with the Dzunukwa? Have you been to the Broughton Archipelago and spent nights on the islands? Did you hear the “whoop whoops” at night in the woods? Let us know in the comments below or email us.
Research Writer, Sasquatch Syndicate Inc.