By Christian Toews
From the May 2020 Biskinik
Bigfoot. Some say this creature is only a figment of our imagination, a legend created by misidentifying an animal or naming a shadow. Other people wholeheartedly believe in the existence of an unidentified species living throughout North America and possibly in other locations around the world.
According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), sightings of Bigfoot in North America go back as far as 400 years. While the sightings happen in different locations and have slightly different descriptions, many of them claim the same basic features. Bigfoot is almost always described as a very tall, hairy, creature resembling a primate walking on two feet. Another distinct feature are his big feet which leave footprints often discovered in remote areas.
The eastern part of Oklahoma is a hotbed for Bigfoot activity, especially in and around the Ouachita Mountains and Ozark National Forest. While the majority of sightings in North America happen in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, according to BFRO, Oklahoma has had over 100 reported sightings. The Ouachita and Ozarks cross the Oklahoma border into Arkansas and there have been over 100 sightings in the Natural State as well.
The Mid-American Bigfoot Research Center (MABRC) is an organization with the goal of proving Bigfoot’s existence and to educate the public on Bigfoot, according to D.W. Lee, Executive Director and founder of the organization. The MABRC has turned into a global organization with members all over North America and even as far as Australia and New Zealand, Lee said.
Lee is an army veteran and Cherokee tribal member who lives near Stilwell, Oklahoma. He says the majority of Bigfoot activity in Oklahoma takes place within the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations. He attributes this to the dense forests, rivers, and large, undeveloped parts of these areas.
Every year in Stilwell, Oklahoma, the MABRC hosts the Bigfoot Symposium. This is a gathering of Bigfoot experts and enthusiasts alike. The event is an opportunity for people who might be interested in Bigfoot to learn more. It also provides an opportunity for researchers to share evidence and collaborate on investigation, said Lee.
The difficulty in researching a creature whose existence has yet to be proven is sifting through all of the hoaxes, Lee explained. He said the MABRC is focused on the science of Bigfoot and doesn’t really focus on the sensational side of Bigfoot. “We like to try to educate the public about the true information that’s out there. You have so many TV shows that are putting garbage out there and nobody knows for sure what is real and what’s not real,” he said.
One thing is for sure, if you visit anywhere in the southeastern region of Oklahoma, you will see Bigfoot. At least on a sign or a souvenir t-shirt.
Bigfoot has become part of the culture in places like Broken Bow, Hochatown, and Honobia. Honobia’s relationship with Bigfoot runs so deep that they hold one of the largest Bigfoot festivals in this part of the country. Every fall, people from all over the world gather to attend the Honobia Bigfoot Festival.
Jolly Winsor is the president of the Honobia Bigfoot Organization, the group responsible for organizing the annual Bigfoot festival. “There have been stories about the Bigfoot in this area for many years with numerous sightings and encounters,” said Winsor.
“This area has had several researchers that have come to look and observe the Bigfoot. We have had TV programs come and do shows here. We also have a group that conducts Bigfoot expeditions throughout the year here,” Winsor said in an interview with the Ada News.
While some gather to share Bigfoot stories and research they have conducted, many people attend the festival for the novelty. With food, music and vendors, there is something for everyone. The festival now attracts around 5,000 people every year, according to Winsor.
While you are not guaranteed to actually see Bigfoot in the wild at the festival, you are sure to have a good time.
If you travel southeast from Honobia, you’ll find the towns of Broken Bow and Hochatown. These towns are located near Beavers Bend State Park. This area is another part of Oklahoma that has multiple sightings of Bigfoot according to BFRO.
Dian Jordan is a local cabin owner. She also holds a PhD in sociology and is an online professor of sociology at the University of Texas Permian Basin in Odessa, TX.
Jordan said that her family has been in the area for generations and she remembers hearing stories about Bigfoot as long as she can remember. She bought her first cabin in Hochatown in 1999. She said many people who have stayed in her properties report strange things around the area. “We’ve had campers in the cabins all the time that talked about hearing noises and seeing strange things in the woods,” she said.
Jordan said she has never seen Bigfoot, but she believes he could be out there. “Bigfoot is bigger, stronger and more forest wise than we are. The Choctaw Nation is full of difficult terrain. Bigfoot loves this area,” she said.
Janet Cress is the owner of a store in Hochatown called Janet’s Treasure Chest. You can find an entire section of her store dedicated to Bigfoot. “We have bigfoot shirts, stickers, pens, just about anything you can think of,” she said.
Cress said she grew up in Hochatown and stories of Bigfoot have always been around. “As long as I can remember, there has always been the story about Bigfoot. It’s something that has always been here,” she said.
She went on to say that people come in her store all the time and share stories about seeing Bigfoot. There was a sighting on Broken Bow Lake that was talked about all around the area in 2019, she said.
The Choctaw Nation area in Southeastern Oklahoma has grown more popular in recent years. People are traveling from surrounding cities and states to visit the pristine country it has to offer. From trout fishing on the rivers to hiking in the mountains, Oklahoma has some truly unique gems to uncover. So, the next time you are in this area, keep an eye out, you never know what you will find.
Things to Do
- The Maze of Hochatown
- Big Foot Axe Throwing
- Beavers Bend Mining Company
- Wild Boar Ridge Hunting Ranch
- Vojai’s Winery
- Okie Girls Coffee & Ice Cream
- Hochatown Trading Post & Coffee Co
- Hochatown Coffee Central
- Hocha Cup
- Jake’s Brickhouse Grill