by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
I’ll admit to being a fan of the television program “Finding Bigfoot.” (Typical dialogue: “Look! There’s a broken twig. Bigfoots break twigs. There must be a Bigfoot here!”)
The National Park Service is spending $50,000 researching Bigfoot, sea monsters, unexplained lights, and other paranormal activity.
Kawerak Inc., a nonprofit group that serves people of Eskimo, Aleut, or American-Indian descent in the Bering Strait region between Alaska and Russia, received the grant last year. The organization illustrates its project with a picture of “Hairy Man,” a mythical Bigfoot-like creature.
The group is not just interested in researching “Hairy Man,” but a whole host of “supernatural” creatures.
“Kawerak’s Social Science Program has recently initiated a new research project on the ‘Supernatural Environment,'” Kawerak’s description of the project reads. “Phenomena that can be described as ‘supernatural’ include, among others, things such as sea monsters, little people, wild babies, unexplained lights, animals that can change into other things, and invisible sea birds.”
The organization says the research is important to understanding how culture influences beliefs in the paranormal.
“The objective of the project is to document, in a serious and meaningful way, Bering Strait residents’ knowledge about, experiences with, and beliefs about supernatural phenomena,” the group said. “We think that this information is important to understanding how people relate to their environment and that there are culturally specific understandings of these phenomena which have not been previously documented.”
The National Park Services originally announced its intention to award a $150,000 grant outside the normal competitive process to Kawerak for the supernatural study in March 2016.
The grant announcement said the study would also include “animals with transformative powers, a variety of other non-human persons, landscape features with special powers, and other similar phenomena.”