The Sasquatch Poems

The Sasquatch Poems by Sherman Alexie

Q. Write a critical explanation of ‘The Sasquatch Poems’ by Sherman Alexie.

Ans. A line-by-line analysis of the poem.

The Sasquatch Poems

1.
I believe in Sasquatch
just as much as I believe in God
which is not logical
since more people have seen Sasquatch
than have seen God.

I  believe in Sasquatch

Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, is a legendary creature described as a large, hairy ape. He lives in North American forests. Scientists debate and doubt the existence of Sasquatch due to the absence of conclusive evidence like clear photos, DNA samples, or captured specimens.

The speaker announces a belief in Sasquatch, a mythical creature often associated with the indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest. The speaker’s belief in Sasquatch sets up the exploration of faith and mythology that runs throughout the poem.

Just as much as I believe in God

The speaker equates belief in Sasquatch with belief in God. He suggests that the basis of faith doesn’t necessarily rely on empirical evidence or universally accepted truths. This line also introduces the idea of cultural relativism, in which beliefs may vary depending on one’s culture or perspective.

Which is not logical 

This line acknowledges the paradox inherent in the speaker’s beliefs. Believing in a mythical creature and believing in a divine being may seem illogical. However, the speaker argues that belief is driven by personal conviction and cultural context, not logic.

Since more people have seen Sasquatch than have seen God

This line introduces a humorous, slightly ironic observation. The speaker suggests that empirically speaking, Sasquatch might be more ‘real’ than God because more people claim to have seen Sasquatch. This claim underscores the relative nature of belief and the speaker’s willingness to question or challenge conventional wisdom.

2.
We hire priests and politicians
who promise us there are no mysteries
only doors that can be opened easily.

We hire priests and politicians

The word “hire” is significant because it suggests a transactional relationship between society and its leaders. People put these individuals in positions of power, expecting them to provide guidance and answers.

Who promise us there are no mysteries

This line suggests that these authority figures—priests and politicians—often attempt to simplify the world’s complexities and uncertainties, presenting them as knowable and manageable.

For priests, this could mean explaining life’s mysteries through the lens of religious doctrine. For politicians, it could mean promising solutions to societal problems.

Only doors that can be opened easily.

This line suggests that these authority figures not only promise to demystify the world but also assure us that any challenges we face are easily solvable. The “doors” metaphor could represent various challenges, and the idea that they can be “opened easily” offers comfort and assurance.

3.
Mystery is a series of large footprints
leading us from the edge of the forest
to the center of the desert.
At the center: an Anasazi pot.
In Hopi, Anasazi means ancient, alien one.
After 1200 A.D., the Anasazi vanished, leaving behind
only the slightest traces of their sudden departure.
Only the Hopi know where they went.

Mystery is a series of large footprints leading us from the edge of the forest to the center of the desert. 

In this line, the mystery is represented as a path of giant footprints, perhaps referencing the elusive tracks often associated with the Sasquatch or Bigfoot creature. These footprints lead from the forest, where Sasquatch is traditionally sighted, to the center of the desert, a place often associated with barrenness and solitude.

This could represent the journey from the known (the forest, familiar territory) to the unknown (the desert, unfamiliar territory). It signifies the enticing yet sometimes daunting nature of mystery and the unknown.

At the center: an Anasazi pot. 

The Anasazi were an ancient Native American civilization known for pottery and cliff dwellings. They mysteriously disappeared around 1200 A.D. They left behind their artifacts as the only evidence of their existence.

The presence of the Anasazi pot in the center of the desert suggests that at the heart of mystery often lies a significant discovery, which can offer insights into the past.

In Hopi, Anasazi means ancient, alien one. 

The word “Anasazi” is a term used by the Navajo, meaning “ancient enemies.” However, the Hopi, considered descendants of the Anasazi, have a different interpretation. For them, the term Anasazi carries a connotation of respect and means “ancient, alien one,” emphasizing their alien nature.

After 1200 A.D., the Anasazi vanished, leaving behind only the slightest traces of their sudden departure.

This line refers to the historical fact that the Anasazi people mysteriously vanished, leaving behind minimal traces of their departure. This adds to the sense of mystery and intrigue.

Only the Hopi know where they went.

This final line suggests that some mysteries are known only by specific people or groups, in this case, the Hopi tribe, thought to be descendants of the Anasazi.

4.
In the year I was born, a Sasquatch chased N
from Benjamin Lake to Turtle Lake.
N was on horseback
and still barely escaped.
N refuses to speak of this event now
and will only smile
when asked about the chase.

In the year I was born, a Sasquatch chased N from Benjamin Lake to Turtle Lake.

In this line, the poet links the mythical creature Sasquatch with a personal event that supposedly took place in the year of his birth. Using the unidentified character “N” adds a degree of anonymity and mystery to the story.

The specific mention of places (Benjamin Lake to Turtle Lake) situates the event in an actual geographical context, making the tale seem more tangible and believable.

N was on horseback and still barely escaped.

This line emphasizes Sasquatch’s perceived strength and speed, suggesting that even on horseback, ‘N’ could barely escape the creature. This enhances the mythical and fearful image of Sasquatch in the reader’s mind.

N refuses to speak of this event now and will only smile when asked about the chase.

The fact that ‘N’ refuses to speak of the event but smiles when asked about it suggests a mixture of fear, respect, and perhaps amusement regarding the encounter with Sasquatch.

The silence and smile also imply that ‘N’ cherishes the mystery surrounding the incident rather than explicitly revealing the event’s details.

5.
Because we are human
we assign human emotions to Sasquatch.
When it chased N from lake to lake
we assume Sasquatch was angry.
How would our hearts change
if we discovered Sasquatch was running
just for the sake of the run, the burn
in the leg muscles and lungs?

Because we are human we assign human emotions to Sasquatch. When it chased N from lake to lake we assume Sasquatch was angry.

Here, the poet refers to the incident mentioned in the previous section of the poem where a Sasquatch chased ‘N’. He points out that humans tend to project human emotions onto Sasquatch, assuming it acted out of anger when it chased ‘N.’

This assumption is based on our human understanding of motivations for such a chase, typically seen as an aggressive act.

How would our hearts change if we discovered Sasquatch was running just for the sake of the run, the burn in the leg muscles and lungs?

This line proposes an alternative interpretation of Sasquatch’s actions. Instead of assuming that Sasquatch was angry, what if it was simply running for the sheer joy of running, to feel the burn in its muscles and lungs?

This brings into question our human-centric view of the world, suggesting that our perceptions and interpretations may sometimes align with the realities of other beings. 

6.
We tell these Sasquatch stories
because we are Spokane Indian.
We are Spokane
because our grandparents were Spokane.
Our grandparents told Sasquatch stories.
Our grandparents heard Sasquatch stories
told by their grandparents.
In this way, we come to worship.

We tell these Sasquatch stories because we are Spokane Indian.

This line establishes a direct connection between the act of telling Sasquatch stories and the identity of the Spokane Indian people. The Sasquatch stories are a part of their cultural heritage, passed down through generations.

We are Spokane because our grandparents were Spokane.

Here, the poet emphasizes the continuity and preservation of cultural identity through generations. The Spokane identity is inherited from the elders and is kept alive through the descendants.

Our grandparents told Sasquatch stories. Our grandparents heard Sasquatch stories told by their grandparents.

These lines highlight the role of storytelling in preserving cultural memory and history. The stories of Sasquatch, passed down from generation to generation, serve as a shared cultural experience that binds the Spokane community together.

In this way, we come to worship.

The final line suggests that this act of storytelling is a form of worship or reverence. By carrying forward the stories of their ancestors, the Spokane people honor their heritage and uphold their cultural traditions.

7.
By now, the hunters and hobbyists also call them Sasquatch
because they have come to understand a little
of what Indians have always understood.

By now, the hunters and hobbyists also call them Sasquatch

This suggests that those not originally part of the indigenous culture, such as hunters and hobbyists, have also started to use the term “Sasquatch.” This could imply that these groups, who may have initially been skeptics or held different beliefs, have started to acknowledge the existence of Sasquatch as perceived by the Spokane Indians.

because they have come to understand a little of what Indians have always understood

This line further explains the reason for the change in the language of the hunters and hobbyists. They have begun to grasp, at least to some extent, the indigenous understanding of Sasquatch.

This could be a commentary on how indigenous knowledge and wisdom, often marginalized or ignored, are gradually recognized and appreciated by wider society.

8.
Headline in the tabloids:
“Bigfoot Baby Found
in Watermelon: Has Elvis’s Sneer.”

Tabloids are a style of newspaper that tends to emphasize sensational crime stories, gossip columns about celebrities, and sports.

In the context of “The Sasquatch Poems” by Sherman Alexie, the reference to a tabloid headline is used to comment on how mainstream culture can distort and sensationalize elements of indigenous beliefs, in this case, the figure of Sasquatch or Bigfoot.

As mentioned earlier in the poem, those who say “Bigfoot” are those who don’t believe. The usage of “Bigfoot” here might suggest that the tabloid isn’t respecting the cultural significance of the Sasquatch and is just using the figure to sell papers.

In the context of the poem “The Sasquatch Poems” by Sherman Alexie, the watermelon is part of a sensational and absurd tabloid headline:

Bigfoot Baby Found in Watermelon: Has Elvis’s Sneer.

Using watermelon in this context adds to the absurdity and humor of the headline, as it is an unlikely and nonsensical place to find a “Bigfoot Baby.” It’s part of the poem’s critique of how tabloid journalism often sensationalizes and distorts reality.

Elvis’s Sneer

Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll,” was a famous musician known for his voice, style, and stage presence. He had the weird sneer.

9.
Those who say “Bigfoot”
are those who don’t believe.
We must learn to fear metaphor.

Those who say ‘Bigfoot ‘are those who don’t believe

It suggests that those who use this term are likely to view the creature as a mere myth or piece of folklore rather than acknowledging the deeper cultural and spiritual significance it holds for specific communities, particularly indigenous ones.

We must learn to fear metaphor

It can be interpreted in several ways. One interpretation is that Alexie is cautioning against the oversimplification resulting from the metaphor. Metaphors can distort the meaning, primarily when used carelessly for the original context. 

In this case, “Bigfoot” could be seen as a metaphor that misrepresents and diminishes the cultural significance of the Sasquatch. Another interpretation could be that metaphors have power – they shape our understanding of the world and can perpetuate stereotypes or misconceptions. Thus, we should be wary of them.

10.
We followed the footprints from the source of the stream
to the place where it emptied into the river.
We saw its hair snagged on branches ten feet above us.
Its smell was still powerful a full day after it had passed through.
The smell: rotten eggs, sulfur, burned hair, blood, sawdust
pine sap, bat piss, standing water, split granite, sunlight.

We followed the footprints from the source of the stream to the place where it emptied into the river

It speaks to the pursuit of the Sasquatch, a journey or quest that moves from one point to another, suggesting both curiosity and respect for this creature.

We saw its hair snagged on branches ten feet above us

This hints at the large size of the creature, something that is part of the Sasquatch’s typical description. This physical evidence left behind makes the creature more real than just a story.

The detailed description of the smell is a particularly strong sensory detail. The mix of scents – “rotten eggs, sulfur, burned hair, blood, sawdust, pine sap, bat piss, standing water, split granite, sunlight” – is a blend of the organic, the unpleasant, the natural, and the elemental.

11.
Even now, we like to think science replaced religion
when, in fact, religion became science.

Even now, we like to think science replaced religion when, in fact, religion became science

The line says that many people think that science has replaced religion in explaining how the world works. But the poet suggests that instead of science replacing religion, religion has evolved or transformed into a science.

Science and religion pursue fundamental truths about reality, despite their differing approaches.

12.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my father and mother.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my sister and brother.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my version of God.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my only effective blanket.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my Adam and Eve.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my porcupine quill.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my cup of ice water.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my metamorphic rock.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my saxophone.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my last will and testament.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my favorite red shirt.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my basketball.
I ran into the house on fire and saved my book about Sasquatch.

In the midst of a fire, the narrator bravely rescues diverse elements, both human and inanimate: family members, a religious symbol, a blanket, mythic first humans, a porcupine quill, iced water, a rock, a saxophone, a legal document, a cherished shirt, a basketball, and a Sasquatch book.

The items saved encapsulate personal, spiritual, practical, natural, and recreational aspects, suggesting the preservation of different facets of life.

These things have their symbolic significance:

Symbols and Their Interpretations

Item/Symbol Possible Interpretation
Parents (Father and Mother) Symbolizes family ties and responsibilities.
Siblings (Sister and Brother) Represents familial relationships and bonds.
Personal version of God Indicates personal beliefs and spirituality.
Effective blanket May symbolize comfort, warmth, or security.
Adam and Eve Represents human origins, religious narratives, or philosophical contemplation about humanity.
Porcupine quill Could symbolize self-defense, nature’s resourcefulness, or uniqueness.
Cup of ice water Might denote life’s necessities, or the contrast and balance of elements (hot fire/cold water).
Metamorphic rock Symbolizes transformation, change, and the passage of time.
Saxophone Could represent creative expression, music, or hobbies.
Last will and testament Symbolizes mortality, preparedness, and personal legacy.
Favorite red shirt May signify personal identity, memories, or preference.
Basketball Represents recreational activities, teamwork, or competitive spirit.
Book about Sasquatch This could indicate curiosity, fascination with mysteries or the unknown. This could also represent an interest in folklore, mythology, or the natural world and its creatures.

 

13.
After D. B. Cooper hijacked the commercial jet
and parachuted 30,000 feet into the Cascades
where he and his newly acquired money disappeared
we can only assume that he lived
because his death would kill the mystery.
Our only certainty: D. B. Cooper is not Sasquatch.

This refers to the notorious D. B. Cooper case. This real-life mystery happened in 1971 when a man who recognized himself as “Dan Cooper” (later incorrectly reported by the media as “D. B. Cooper”) pirated a Boeing 727, obtained $200,000 in ransom, and afterward parachuted from the plane over the Cascade Chain of mountains in the Pacific Northwest.

He was never found, and the situation stays one of the most long-lasting mysteries in the FBI background. The verse contrasts D.B. Cooper and Bigfoot, drawing parallels in between the two as figures of mystery and obscurity.

we can only assume that he lived because his death would kill the mystery

This line suggests that certain mysteries, like that of D.B. Cooper or Sasquatch, are kept alive because they remain unresolved. The allure is unknown, and confirmation of their fate might diminish the intrigue.

Our only certainty: D. B. Cooper is not Sasquatch.

This line may humorously emphasize the uncertainty surrounding both figures, with the only sure being that they are not the same entity. 

14.
In order to know what Sasquatch is
we must know what he is not.

It suggests that to comprehend something truly, we must also understand what it is not. This is a fundamental aspect of defining anything—by identifying what it isn’t, we can better understand what it is.

To know what Bigfoot really is, we look at what it isn’t. Bigfoot isn’t a typical animal or human, nor just an imaginary creature. It’s a mysterious figure from native stories, symbolizing the unknown.

15.
Here, I wonder why I speak of Sasquatch as male
when more female Sasquatch have been seen
including the most famous: the Sasquatch woman
who walked across deadfall in the film
shot by Roger Patterson on the Hupa Indian Reservation
in Northern California. We have all seen her
pendulous breasts, prominent brow, large feet
and shadowed eyes as she turns to face the camera
and the commotion caused when Patterson’s horse threw him.
Patterson continued to film as he fell, as he climbed
to his feet, and ran after the Sasquatch. His home movie
has never been discounted, only ignored or dismissed.

This stanza discusses the gendering of the Sasquatch and refers to the famous Patterson-Gimlin film. The Patterson-Gimlin film, captured in 1967, depicts a female Sasquatch walking in the forest of Northern California.

The footage is often cited as significant evidence by Sasquatch believers.

The footage remains one of the most well-known pieces of

evidence cited by those who believe in the existence of Sasquatch.

The stanza starts by questioning why the poet often refers to Sasquatch as male when more female Sasquatchs have allegedly been seen. This could critique the tendency to default to male pronouns and perspectives when discussing unknown entities or subjects in general.

The poet then refers to the Patterson-Gimlin film, describing the female Sasquatch’s physical attributes as seen in the film: “pendulous breasts, prominent brow, large feet, and shadowed eyes.”

16.
The scientists don’t want Sasquatch to exist
because her existence would destroy their God.

This stanza is about scientists and their worldviews. It suggests that the existence of a creature like Sasquatch would challenge the established scientific understanding of the natural world, thus “destroying their God.” 

The term “God” could symbolize how some people hold scientific knowledge as absolute, unchanging, and infallible, similar to how some religious people view their deities.

17.
Roger Patterson was a Yakama Indian
a fact which provides me with a small, secret pleasure.
I have been taught to keep secrets
and to fool you into believing I’ll reveal them.

The speaker of the poem says that Roger Patterson, who famously filmed what is believed to be a Sasquatch, was of Yakama Indian heritage. The speaker feels a sense of satisfaction about this fact.

The following lines about keeping secrets and fooling the reader into believing they will be revealed add an element of mystery. This could reflect the elusive nature of Sasquatch itself, known but never fully revealed.

18.
If we sit in John F. Kennedy’s limousine on November 22, 1963
and then we look back over our shoulder just as the first shot is fired
we will see a shadowy figure in the sixth-floor window of the
Depository.
Moving closer, we can see the rifle, a gold ring, and brown eyes.
We can see a bead of sweat fall from forehead to gun stock, soaking
into the finely-grained wood. We can see the fine smoke rise.
We do know that Sasquatch did not shoot JFK
but we wonder if the man who pulled the trigger
was hired by the same men who pay the scientists.

The speaker proposes a hypothetical scenario where we are present in John F. Kennedy’s car on the day of his assassination. They describe noticing a figure in the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository building and provide a detailed account of what one might see up close.

The last part, “We do know that Sasquatch did not shoot JFK, but we wonder if the man who pulled the trigger was hired by the same men who pay the scientists,” introduces an element of conspiracy.

The speaker suggests that the same people who fund scientific research (presumably those who deny the existence of Sasquatch) might also be behind the assassination of JFK. This is a metaphorical way of illustrating how truth can be manipulated or hidden by those with power.

19.
On his deathbed, Roger Patterson wished
he would have shot the Sasquatch
and proved her existence with a corpse.

This verse reveals that Roger Patterson, on his deathbed, expressed regret for not having taken a more drastic step to prove the existence of Sasquatch.

Specifically, he wished he had shot the Sasquatch he filmed, as the body would have served as irrefutable evidence of its existence. This regret likely comes from the criticism and doubt his film footage has faced over the years, with many dismissing it as a hoax.

20.
Thesis: Indians can only be proven superstitious
if non-Indians are proved to be without superstition

This line is thought-provoking about how we perceive superstition in different cultures. It suggests that the label of “superstitious” often applied to Indigenous peoples (in this case, “Indians”) could only be valid if non-Indigenous peoples are proven to be utterly free of superstition themselves.

In other words, it’s a critique of cultural bias and the tendency to exoticize or stereotype other cultures while overlooking similar tendencies within one’s culture. It also calls for fairness and equality in cultural understanding and respect.

21.
Do the Sasquatch believe in us?

This line flips the perspective of the human belief in Sasquatch, asking instead if Sasquatch believes in humans. 

22.
Do you take the bread and wine
because you believe it to be the body and blood?
I do, as other Indians do, too
because that colonial superstition is as beautiful
as any of our indigenous superstitions.

The speaker in the poem says they participate in the Christian ritual of eating bread and drinking wine, even though they are Indians with their own indigenous beliefs.

They don’t necessarily believe the bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus, but they see the ritual as beautiful. In the same way, they find beauty in their own indigenous beliefs.

23.
Of course, Sasquatch and Indians have known of each other
for thousands of years. Certain Indians believed Sasquatch
were evil Indians banished from their respective tribes.
Others believed Sasquatch came down from the skies.
Some Indians have sat at lonely campfires and watched
the woods for signs of Sasquatch, their long-lost brother.

This part of the poem reflects on the history of Native American stories and beliefs about the Sasquatch. Some tribes viewed the Sasquatch as exiled or banished members of their communities, while others believed that the Sasquatch were beings that descended from the skies.

The mention of Indians sitting at campfires watching for signs of Sasquatch conveys a sense of respect, curiosity, and perhaps even longing for connection with these elusive creatures.

The term “long-lost brother” suggests a deep, familial relationship or kinship between the Sasquatch and Native peoples. This passage emphasizes the richness of indigenous folklore and belief systems and the profound connections to the natural world that they reflect.

24.
A man named Anomaly is over there, in the dark
corner, with his eyes closed, dancing all by himself

In simple terms, this part of the poem describes a man named “Anomaly” dancing alone in a dark corner with his eyes closed. He enjoys his company in his world.

25.
I can give you proof of God: Jim Thorpe, Sac and Fox Indian,
won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912
Stockholm Olympics. He won those medals despite the fact that
Indians were not yet recognized as United States citizens.

Thorpe is considered a top athlete of the 20th century. He won two gold medals.  The poet sees Jim Thorpe’s victory as evidence of God’s existence, considering the historical context where Native Americans faced discrimination.

Thorpe’s success against the odds represents more than personal triumph and may reflect the power of faith. Similarly, belief in Sasquatch in the poem can be seen as a leap of faith and a form of spirituality.

26.
Sasquatch did not kidnap the Lindbergh baby.
Sasquatch did not bury the empty coffin of Heinrich Müller.
Sasquatch did not kill the prostitutes in White Chapel.
Sasquatch did not fly with Amelia Earhart.
Sasquatch did not roll the stone away from Jesus’s tomb.
Sasquatch did not build the pyramids.
Sasquatch did not create the Ghost Dance.
Sasquatch did not drop the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Sasquatch did not descend from the Missing Link.
Sasquatch did not drag boulders across Easter Island.
Sasquatch did not crash-land in Roswell, New Mexico.
Sasquatch did not walk across the Bering Strait.
Sasquatch did not sink Lemuria.
Sasquatch did not write Shakespeare’s plays.

Sasquatch did not kidnap the Lindbergh baby.

This mentions the 1932 high-profile kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of renowned aviator Charles Lindbergh. This crime remains one of the crimes of the 20th century.

Sasquatch did not bury the empty coffin of Heinrich Müller.

Heinrich Müller, a senior Nazi officer, vanished after World War II. His fate is still unknown, sparking various speculations and conspiracy theories.

Sasquatch did not kill the prostitutes in White Chapel.

This line is about the unsolved Jack the Ripper murders in the Whitechapel, London.

Sasquatch did not fly with Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator. She disappeared during a circumnavigational flight in 1937. 

Sasquatch did not roll the stone away from Jesus’s tomb.

This is about the biblical story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sasquatch did not build the pyramids.

The construction of the Egyptian pyramids has been a subject of wonder and speculation.

Sasquatch did not create the Ghost Dance.

 Among Native American tribes the Ghost Dance was a religious movement

Sasquatch did not drop the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This refers to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States during World War II.

Sasquatch did not descend from the Missing Link.

The “Missing Link” is a term often used to refer to a hypothetical ancestor that would connect humans and their primate relatives in the evolutionary tree.

Sasquatch did not drag boulders across Easter Island.

This line refers to the enormous stone statues, or moai, on Easter Island and the mystery of how these were transported and erected.

Sasquatch did not crash-land in Roswell, New Mexico.

This refers to the 1947 Roswell UFO (Unidentified Flying Objects) incident.

Sasquatch did not sink Lemuria.

Lemuria is a hypothetical “lost land” in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The concept’s 19th-century origins lie in attempts to account for discontinuities in biogeography.

Sasquatch did not write Shakespeare’s plays.

This refers to the theory that William Shakespeare was not the actual author of his plays.

27.
I can give you proof of Sasquatch: Indian tribes of the Pacific
Northwest carved ape faces into their totem poles long before
any Europeans arrived and brought news of such animals.
According to the scientists, there are no other primates, aside
from human beings, indigenous to North America.

I can give you proof of Sasquatch:

This means the speaker believes he has evidence that proves the existence of Sasquatch, a mythical creature also known as Bigfoot.

Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest carved ape faces into their totem poles long before Europeans arrived and brought news of such animals.

This means that the Indigenous people living in the Pacific Northwest of North America were carving faces that looked like apes onto their totem poles before Europeans arrived.

The speaker suggests this could be evidence of Sasquatch because these Indigenous tribes might have seen Sasquatch and then carved their faces into the totem poles.

According to the scientists, there are no other primates, aside from human beings, indigenous to North America.

Scientific consensus identifies humans as North America’s sole native primate. The existence of Sasquatch, often depicted as a primate, would challenge this prevailing scientific understanding.

28.
If Sasquatch is the deviation
then what is the common rule?

If “Sasquatch is the deviation then what is the common rule?” the “common rule” would likely refer to the widely accepted scientific understanding of biology and zoology, including what creatures are known to exist and how they behave.

29.
Late night on the Spokane Indian Reservation
we can hear the shrill cry echo through the pines.
We have recorded the cry and played it for the experts
who cannot tell us which animal made that sound.

These lines comment on our inclination to believe in myths or external forces when faced with unexplained or challenging aspects of our history and existence.

Sherman Alexie suggests that these mysteries and grand feats are part of the human experience, not the work of a mythical creature like Sasquatch. This calls for self-reflection, asking us to acknowledge our humanity’s complexities, including its capacity for both great and terrible acts.

30.
Because the Sasquatch use tools, I wonder if they write poems.
Because the Sasquatch steal salmon from nets, I wonder if they
have justice.
Because the Sasquatch travel alone, I wonder if they love.
Because the Sasquatch travel in families, I wonder if they hate.
Because the Sasquatch stink, I wonder if they feel shame.
Because the Sasquatch hide, I wonder if they are afraid.
Because the Sasquatch cry in the night, I wonder if they believe in God.

In these lines, the speaker anthropomorphizes Sasquatch, a mythical creature, pondering whether it shares human traits like creativity, morality, love, hate, shame, fear, and belief.

This reflection on Sasquatch’s potential capacities serves as an exploration of our own human emotions and understanding of the world.

31.
A large footprint in the damp sand.
A bush burning on the mountain.

A mysterious large footprint graces the damp sand, suggesting the presence of Sasquatch. On a mountain, a bush burns, possibly referencing unexplained phenomena, adding to the poem’s mystery.

32.
When I asked the Indian elder, she said
with a smile, “I don’t know if I believe in Sasquatch
but he sure does stink.”

This suggests that while she may not fully believe in the physical existence of Sasquatch, she acknowledges the stories, characteristics, and lore surrounding the creature, including its reputed strong odor.

When the Indian elder says, “he sure does stink,” she’s referring to a common trait attributed to Sasquatch in folklore and eyewitness accounts, which is a strong, unpleasant odor. This phrase is an informal way of saying that Sasquatch has a very noticeable and distinct smell.

Both the poems, The Sasquatch Poems and Why We Play Basketball by Sherman Alexie explore the idea of human aspirations and the pursuit of something larger, the desire to transcend limits, discover meaning, and engage with the extraordinary.

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