The Cherokee believe that the Hairy Man or Stone Man will give them a warning whistle when it's time to vacate the woods
A reader submitted the following narrative for publication:
I've been reading so many theories about Bigfoot, to me, it's somewhat comical. I believe that certain people are allowed to witness these creatures, in particular those people who have traditionally lived among them. I'm not sure what other people are seeing.
My family has lived in Jackson County, NC for as long as anyone can remember. We are Cherokee. There are stories of 'Stone Man' or hairy savages seen by our people historically throughout the Qualla Boundary. I have a story told to me by my Grandfather when I was a boy.
Grandpa Parker talked about the large garden and cornfields his parents maintained. They would grow heirloom bean and tomato varieties that came from hundreds of years in Cherokee culture. They kept a few field animals, but at that time, they didn't raise livestock.
After a while, his parents decided that they would try raising chickens. He helped his father build a large chicken house, and another small barn that would be used as a workshop. Everything went well, and after a few years, their flock of egg-laying hens were prospering. His father was also a very good handyman and fixed equipment for other farmers in the area.
One day, just before the harvest season, Grandpa Parker and his father went hunting in the woods west of the farm. Their main quarry was squirrel that day. As they reached their regular spot along a ridge thick with hickory trees, his father looked worried. They rarely talked or made any noise while in the woods, but his father suddenly started to whistle in a long sustained tone. They sat quietly on the boulder for a few minutes, until his father once again let out a long whistle.
"We need to move" his father abruptly said. They got up and started to briskly walk on the trail towards the farm. When they reached the end of the woods, they heard a loud whistle coming from the direction where they came. They cut through the cornfield and quickly reached the workshop. Grandpa Parker was becoming worried. His father didn't say anything, just directing him to stay with him.
His mother was in the garden working, when his father shouted out to her to go to the house. They all met at the door by the kitchen and went inside. He and his father sat at the table while his mother cooked coffee. "Why did we leave the woods?"
His father looked at him and asked if he had every heard anyone talk about 'the Hairy Man?" Grandpa Parker told him that he had not. He was scared now.
My Great Grandfather said that the Hairy Man was a tall hairy human-like creature that would migrate to different locations along the mountains following food sources. When they were in the woods, he had noticed that there were no birds or other natural sounds as they approached the ridge. He said that he noticed something large in the hollow, much larger than a black bear and walking like a man. He whistled hoping it would move on, but he didn't notice it move or make any sound. From his experience, that was an indication that it was time to leave because the Bear Man was staying put. The return whistle they heard was a warning to stay out of the woods.
When my Great Grandfather was younger, a woman and her young boy went missing in a woodland in nearby Swain County, NC. People had seen a Hairy Man in the area and suspected that it was responsible for the disappearance. There had been other disappearances previous to that. No remains were ever found.
The next day, his father decided to start harvesting corn. This year, a large patch of cornfield nearest to the woods was left unharvested. His mother also left several baskets of potatoes at the woods edge that winter. They didn't want any problems from the Hairy Man, especially since he was known to raid chicken houses.
One evening, while he and his father were working in the shop, they heard a long whistle coming from the woods. His father smiled and said "don't mind that - Hairy Man is saying 'thank you.'"
The next spring, they once again went into the woods to hunt. The Hairy Man had moved on. JP