Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
So much for that hypothesis.
The book ended up taking a completely different direction. Instead, I became fascinated by how knowledge about this beast moved through American society, how sometimes it was parasitic on science, and sometimes it was opposed to conventional scientific wisdom.
Bigfoot first came into view during the late 1950s, riding the crest of interest in the Abominable Snowman and Sasquatch. Over the next several years, the different legends were yoked together, and then concern about the beasts dwindled. It was revived in 1967, when Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin claimed to have filmed a female Bigfoot walking through the forest of northern California, not far from where the tracks that first brought Bigfoot to the world's attention were found.
Over the next fifteen years or so, Bigfoot became a cultural phenomenon, in large part because of its complicated relationship with white working-class men--it was in their entertainments that the beast was most often found.
By the 1980s, the creature passed into middle-class culture, in the process both becoming and co-opted into consumer society. And that is how knowledge of Bigfoot was so often perpetuated at the end of the twentieth century, in commercials--for beer and beef jerky and a host of other products.
It was a long, strange journey.
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Related Articles, by others
J. D. Lozier, P. Aniello, and M. J. Hickerson, 'Predicting the Distribution of Sasquatch in Western North America: Anything Goes with Ecological Niche Modelling,' Journal of Biogeography 2009.