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Patterson-Gimlin film inspired Bigfoot interest

Northern Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team member Don Sherman, along with partner Bob Olson of Deer River, hold a pair of plaster casts of what they believe are Bigfoot prints. The casts were taken after reported Bigfoot sightings were found near Bena and Walker. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Don Sherman of Cass Lake said he became interested in researching the existence of Bigfoot after he saw the Patterson-Gimlin film.

He and Bob Olson of Deer River make up the Northern Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team.

The film depicts what appears to be a female Bigfoot with pendulous breast moving quickly away from the Patterson, the filmmaker.

Some of the footage is reproduced at under the Minnesota Bigfoot site.

On Oct. 20, 1967, the late Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin went hunting for Bigfoot evidence at Six Rivers National Park in northern California, where they had heard of sightings. They were on horseback, and Patterson was armed with a hand-held 16mm movie camera.

As the riders came upon a large downed tree by a sandbar, they startled the creature they believed to be Bigfoot. Patterson extracted the camera from his saddlebag and recorded a shaky film that offered a few seconds of clear images of the animal walking away in long strides.

The film has been subjected to many attempts both to debunk and authenticate it. Some qualified scientists have judged the film a hoax with a man in an ape suit, but other scientists contend the film depicts an animal unknown to science, or cryptid, claiming it would be impossible for a human to replicate the animal's gait and muscle movement.

Sherman noted that the creature in the film turned its head back to look at the men and that apes turn their bodies, not their necks.

"They're more human than ape," he said.

Special filming effects, so prevalent today, were unavailable in the 1960s, especially to an amateur photographer with hand-held camera.

Both Patterson and Grimlin always dismissed allegations that they had faked the footage by filming a man wearing an ape suit. Patterson, who died of cancer in 1972, swore on his deathbed that the footage was authentic, and that he had encountered and filmed a large bipedal animal unknown to science. Gimlin has always denied being involved in any part of a possible hoax with Patterson and claims that he and his partner had encountered a real Bigfoot.

Sherman and Olson have visited sites of reported Bigfoot observations in northern Minnesota, taken casts of footprints and interviewed those who have reported sightings about their experiences.

"We started getting reports in 2006," he said.

The creature most commonly called Bigfoot in this part of the United States is legend in many countries. It is usually described as walking upright, covered in hair of various colors and 4-8 feet tall.

Some of the other names for the creature in the United States are Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Skunk Ape. It's the Abominable Snowman or Yeti in the Himalayas. China and other eastern Asian and southern Asian countries have an abundance of names for the creature. And several American Indian languages also refer to something like a Bigfoot.