Legislation that would have named Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot and the Forest Yeti, as Washington state’s official cryptid, didn’t make Friday’s deadline to move to the state Senate floor and survive for further consideration.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, cited Sasquatch’s “immeasurable contributions to Washington state’s cultural heritage and ecosystem,” and sought to designate the big guy as the state’s official cryptid, defined as an “animal whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated.”
Bigfoot would have joined a long list of other state-recognized animals, minerals and vegetation designated by lawmakers over the years, including the Pacific chorus frog (official state amphibian), petrified wood (official state gem) and bluebunch wheatgrass (official state grass) as well as some cultural touchstones such as “Roll on, Columbia, Roll on” (official state folk song) and the square dance (official state dance).
Rivers, who introduced the bill relatively late in the session, told The Columbian’s Lauren Dake, that a Battle Ground third-grader wrote Rivers and made a persuasive argument for ‘Squatch’s cryptid status.
“He very clearly outlined his ideas why Bigfoot should be the state cryptid and why we need to act on this before Oregon does,” Rivers told The Columbian, adding, “it was delightful.”
Legislation like this can seem silly, but Rivers is using the bill as a way to encourage kids to understand and participate in the law-making process. And, among all the serious and often dry legislation that must be considered, there’s room for a little levity.
You can dispute Bigfoot’s existence and, frankly, its contributions to the ecosystem, but we’ll concede Sasquatch’s place in the state’s cultural heritage as well as its moderate effect on tourism.
Tales of Sasquatch-like beings reach back much farther than that famous grainy film from the late 1960s. Legends of a large, hairy apelike creature that walked on two legs are common to some American Indian tribes in Washington state.
An annual music festival at the Gorge near George is named for him. And Bigfoot enthusiasts gather for conferences in the state and mount well-supplied expeditions into the woods to search for the creature. Maybe they’ll find D.B. Cooper while they’re out there.
The case also can be made that there is no more appropriate time to celebrate a creature whose existence is in dispute or is unsubstantiated. Sasquatch tales flourished as “alternative facts” long before the Trump administration popularized the term.
With the bill having failed this session, we hope that Sen. Rivers reintroduces her official cryptid legislation in the future.
Perhaps a hearing before a Senate committe would be enough to lure Sasquatch out of the forest to testify on his own behalf.