Panel 2: The Law: Interpretations of Legal History

Location

Campus Center, Room 3540, University of Massachusetts Boston

Start Date

29-3-2014 9:00 AM

End Date

29-3-2014 10:30 AM

Description

The American Pacific Northwest is characterized by its lush wilderness, mountain ranges, salmon, Starbucks coffee, and most recently, by “Portlandia”-esque hipsters. The Pacific Northwest is also the home of the elusive, and potentially bogus, Sasquatch. The first Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, story was published by pioneer missionary Elkanah Walker in 1840 and a long tradition of publishing Bigfoot stories has proliferated since. Bigfoot searches and stories culminated in the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film of a supposed female Sasquatch, although the myth has found resurgence in modern Bigfoot hunting television shows. Whether or not the elusive Sasquatch exists, ultimately the stories serve as a cautionary tale to act pragmatically in the wilderness. The myth and subsequent stories have become a symbol of the Pacific Northwest region.

Bigfoot fervor also resulted in two Sasquatch preservation laws, the 1969 Skamania County Ordinance no. 69-01, later expanded in 1984, and the 1991 Whatcom County Resolution No. 92-043. Each law purports to protect a creature that, if it does exist, is obviously endangered. The laws have a secondary purpose of protecting unsuspecting wilderness seekers from Bigfoot hunters, but there are other, less obvious implications of creating a law to protect an undiscovered creature.

This paper will examine the creation of both the Skamania County and Whatcom County Sasquatch preservation laws, including the debates leading to the laws and local reaction to their enactment. By using legal documents as well as newspaper editorials and interviews, I will study the implications of formally and legally giving protections to an undiscovered, albeit prestigious, creature.

Comments

PANEL 2 of the 2014 Graduate History Conference features presentations and papers under the topic of "The Law: Interpretations of Legal History."

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Mar 29th, 9:00 AM Mar 29th, 10:30 AM

Sasquatch and the Law: The Implications of Bigfoot Preservation Laws in Washington State

Campus Center, Room 3540, University of Massachusetts Boston

The American Pacific Northwest is characterized by its lush wilderness, mountain ranges, salmon, Starbucks coffee, and most recently, by “Portlandia”-esque hipsters. The Pacific Northwest is also the home of the elusive, and potentially bogus, Sasquatch. The first Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, story was published by pioneer missionary Elkanah Walker in 1840 and a long tradition of publishing Bigfoot stories has proliferated since. Bigfoot searches and stories culminated in the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film of a supposed female Sasquatch, although the myth has found resurgence in modern Bigfoot hunting television shows. Whether or not the elusive Sasquatch exists, ultimately the stories serve as a cautionary tale to act pragmatically in the wilderness. The myth and subsequent stories have become a symbol of the Pacific Northwest region.

Bigfoot fervor also resulted in two Sasquatch preservation laws, the 1969 Skamania County Ordinance no. 69-01, later expanded in 1984, and the 1991 Whatcom County Resolution No. 92-043. Each law purports to protect a creature that, if it does exist, is obviously endangered. The laws have a secondary purpose of protecting unsuspecting wilderness seekers from Bigfoot hunters, but there are other, less obvious implications of creating a law to protect an undiscovered creature.

This paper will examine the creation of both the Skamania County and Whatcom County Sasquatch preservation laws, including the debates leading to the laws and local reaction to their enactment. By using legal documents as well as newspaper editorials and interviews, I will study the implications of formally and legally giving protections to an undiscovered, albeit prestigious, creature.

 

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