Legends of a hairy man are present in a very unusual way within Mayan and Spanish culture. Translating to something like “an old man Goblin,” The Tata Duende is characterized as an ugly man with long hair, and is a very mischievous trickster. Legend has it, Duende has no thumbs and his feet face backwards, making him impossible to track. An important feature to note is that his backward feet are very large and his toes are splayed out. This goblin is associated with rainy climates and is only active at night. Sound familiar? The North American Sasquatch is known to be difficult to track, with footprints ending without rhyme or reason, and revealing anatomy very different from our own. Many footprint casts of Sasquatches contain a mid-tarsal break and in many cases, splayed out toes.
Perhaps Tata Duende has been classified as a goblin to make sense of strange nightly behavior from another creature. Tata Duende exhibits behavior similar to what the U.S. knows as Sasquatch. Many Spanish natives (CLICK READ MORE BUTTON)
attribute a piercing whistle to the Duende, warning that anyone whistling in the woods would attract him and soon become his target of attack. Interestingly, whistling is a behavior that is well known in the Sasquatch scientific community. Many Sasquatch witnesses report hearing whistling and howls before having rocks thrown at them or even seeing a creature. However, physical behavior is not the only characteristic that links these two legends. Tata Duende is considered to be the spiritual guardian angel of all animals and people of the forest. He is known to feed, protect, and help injured people in the woods, however he will punish those that kill more game than they need. The belief that such a creature oversees the forest lines up with what Native Americans believe about Sasquatch. In fact, in the Hoopa Indian culture, “Oh mah,” meaning “boss of the woods” is the word given to Sasquatch. The Plains Indians use the word, “Iktomi” meaning “trickster.” These nicknames seem to characterize a creature much like El Duende.
If nicknames aren’t enough to link these two creatures, their temper may prove otherwise. According to many locals, when Tata Duende becomes angry, he possesses the ability to make anyone in his vicinity immobile and speechless, with the after-effects of a fever for days after their encounter. This effect has been reported in many Sasquatch witnesses, and has been theorized to be a result of infrasound abilities. Tata’s wrath is triggered by human imitation of his whistle. Hunters fear him, for when Tata sees them with guns, he will chop off their heads and use them to decorate his home. Similarly, Sasquatches have also been reported to show signs of aggression when hunters reveal their guns.
Perhaps the most intriguing comparison between Sasquatch and Tata Duende is their strange behavior of braiding the manes of horses. This phenomenon has been reported on many occasions, but perhaps the most intriguing account was reported by a credible biologist. Author George M Erberhart from Russia wrote of a tale taking place during late August in Kabardin Balkan, Russia, year 1991. According to Eberhart, biologist Gregory Panchenko quietly observed an Almasti, or Russian version of a Sasquatch, enter a barn through a window and start braiding a horse’s mane while making high-pitched rambling sounds before exiting through the same window. Panchenko later confirmed that the horse’s mane contained loosely plaited braids that were not present before the creature had tampered with the horse.
The similarities between the North American Sasquatch and other hominin-like creatures around the world are striking. Strange phenomenons have inspired communities to fabricate legends and stories associated with such occurrences, creating a figurative puzzle for researchers to solve. By extracting credible behavioral characteristics from such stories, and comparing them to other native folklore, we can begin to piece together a profile for Sasquatch, in an attempt to familiarize ourselves with their behavior. Eventually, if we gather enough evidence, we may just be able to predict their next move; unless of course, they have already predicted ours.
Redfern, Nicholas. The Bigfoot Book: the Encyclopedia of Sasquatch, Yeti, and Cryptid Primates. Visible Ink Press, 2016.
"El Duende"- San Pedro Folklore , 25 Years Ago, History of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, ambergriscaye.com/25years/elduende.html.
Herrera, Genesis. “Belize Folklore: Tata Duende.” Lower Dover Field Journal, 10 Nov. 2011, ldfieldjournal.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/belize-folklore-tata-duende/.