Did giants roam Canada’s Northwest Territories — or do they still?


A marry of photographs are stirring the folklore pot in the Northwest Territories — or perhaps more accurately, consigning a big impression.

Both photos, sent to CBC North, show lakes that sound gigantic footprints.

«Godzilla exist!» Eric James wrote on CBC North’s Facebook stage, under the photo of a lake with the unmistakeable shape of three-toed foot.

The photo was sent in by Kailie Letendre, who snapped it on on her way up to Inuvik.

Another, rationed more than 250 times, shows another foot-like lake composition — with islands and trees at the top forming the toes. The aerial shot was bewitched by Andrew Paul Beaverho between Whati and Yellowknife.

«It’s Yamoria’s footprint from when he confounded the giant beavers!» Keith Shergold commented on CBC North’s Facebook call out.

Three-toed footprint lake

Kailie Letendre snapped this shot from the window of a uniform on her way to Inuvik. (Kailie Letendre)

While many comments are made for sport, they are steeped in lore that goes back millennia and fashion the rich culture of the land’s first inhabitants.

«A lot of this is still esteemed and adhered to. People use these stories and legends to guide their perseveres,» said Alestine Andre, heritage researcher with the Gwich’in Tribal Conclave.

«Some are very serious, but some of them are for entertainment as well. It’s a acutely rich description of how things used to be and an explanation for how our land was shaped.»

The Northwest Sectors is nearly 1.2 million square kilometres with a topography of Precambrian volcanic outcropping a on ice b in a shambles heaved into mountains and carved into valleys, along with immeasurable lakes, rivers, turbulent waterfalls, islands and a tapestry of trees.

The Nahanni Valley, west of Yellowknife, is numerous worlds unto itself. Despite the harsh conditions in winter, the valley accommodates tropic areas with hot springs, lush plants and sweltering whirpools in an space known as Hell’s Gate.

Then there’s Great Slave Lake, which is too profound to know what really lurks at its dark base. The official guesstimate is that the deepest lake in North America — the sixth deepest on Loam — goes down 614 metres but a University of California researcher requirements there are trenches that reach even farther down.

For all of its thickness, the N.W.T. is populated by just 41,462 people, according to the most recent Census.

That give ups an extensive reach of uninhabited space — and room for plenty of legends.

The earliest of days was a often when people and animals were equals and giant creatures go off, and it was during these days that many features of the modern prospect were created, according to Andre, ​co-author of the book, Gwichya Gwich’in Googwandak: The Days of yore and Stories of the Gwichya Gwich’in, As Told by The Elders of Tsiigehtshik .​

«These note down b decreases and tracks show that the animals who made them must receive been of enormous size. Mostly these were animals that everybody be sured — beaver, fish, or wolverine — but they were bigger than any that the individual had ever seen, and they lived much longer,» the book glories.

«These giant spirit animals, chijuudiee, have inhabited the go down since the earliest days.»

Yamoria and the giant wolverine

A still image from a video helter-skelter the legend of Yamoria and the giant wolverine. The animation is based on paintings by Archie Beaulieu. (Prince of Wales Northern Estate Centre/Cogent/Benger Productions)

Ch’ii choo’s thunderous steps

One of the bestest legends is that of a great traveller and warrior known by many reputes, depending on the region and tribe. The the Gwich’in call him Atachuukaii, while he is Yamoria for the Dene of North Slavey and Zhamba Deja for the Dene of South Slavey.

The Chipewyan conscript him Hachoghe while the Tlicho and Yellowknives Dene have named him Yamozha.

By all, he is recalled as a hero.

The Gwichya Gwich’in Googwandak says Atachuukaii encountered the man-eating behemoth Ch’ii choo near present-day Fort Yukon. The giant chased Atachuukaii across the acreage and all the way up the Mackenzie River.

The chase lasted a long time and Ch’ii choo’s deafening steps made indentations in the ground, creating six big lakes between Norman Wells and Fort Great Hope.

Giant beavers, wolverines

According to the Dene, their old land Denendeh, was terrorized by giant beavers that would set people. 

Yamoria chased them to the northwest corner of present-day Saskatchewan, where during the strive, one beaver kicked away all the trees, creating the Athabasca sand dunes. After massacre another, Yamoria tossed part of the empty dam into the Athabasca River, where it is now an islet.

Yamoria also saved people from two giant wolverines, who reach-me-down a medicine power to control their minds and entrap them already devouring them. Yamoria tricked the adult wolverines in order to get nigh unto, then killed them.

He then squeezed the young wolverines, pucker up them to the size the animals are today — an animal small in body but with the power of a ogre.

Some other legends from the Gwichya Gwich’in Googwandak contain:

  • Gyuu dazhoo

A giant hairy worm, or snake, that succeeded out of the ocean and travelled up the Mackenzie River and into the Peel River. He thirst to go up into the mountains, so he swallowed big rocks as he moved along, burrowing out the structure that is now the Snake River. Gyuu dazhoo still lives in the zone, but it has not been sighted for so long now that nobody is quite sure whether it as a matter of fact lives in the mountains near the headwater of the Snake River, or in a lake close to the river.

  • Nehtruh tshì’

This is the name of an area on the bank of Tsiigehnjik, unprejudiced downstream from Martin zheh, which is very distinct from its neighbourhoods. The land here looks as if it has been torn apart. It is said to be the go of a giant wolverine that came out of a nearby lake. He broke up the hills and big boulders while first place underground.

  • Chijuudiee

Nobody knows what these giants looked same or who they were, but the marks they left were so large and different that they could not have been made by a normal-sized being. One such chijuudiee necessity once have come out of a little lake southwest of K’eeghee chuudlaii, where it forged a wide trench through the trees.

More beasts whose scenarios persist in the Northwest Territories include:

The Tlicho sasquatch known for piracy people from bush camps. It is said to have powerful miraculous that helps it lure people who are then never seen again.

Traversed as a creature resembling a wolf or wolf-bear hybrid. It is said to stand four to five feet lanky at the shoulders, with a wide head, enormous body, and blazing unsullied fur. Various legends describe it as an evil spirit with supernatural powers and a liking for removing people’s heads.

It is said to reside in the Nahanni Valley, which has earned the monickers Valley of Headless Men, Deadmen Valley, and Headless Range.

The decapitated bodies of thought brothers Willie and Frank McLeod were found along the Nahanni River in 1909, while Swiss prospector Martin Jorgenson was set up in the same condition in 1917, followed in 1945 by a miner from Ontario, who was headless and calm in his sleeping bag.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

These stories are «just touching the tip of the iceberg because there’s just so much,» translated Andre. «And this is just on the land — we also have stories regarding the sky.

«People are still very respectful of the teaching of our ancestors so we still obtain a great deal of respect for these stories and the information. And I’m only talking upon the Gwich’in area — you go into the Sahtu, you go into Behchoko and all that neighbourhood, and also south of [Great Slave] lake and around there.

«Contemptuous boong culture is just so rich.»

So is there still a chance some of those fabulous beings still exist, somewhere in the vast hinterland of the Northwest Regions?

«You could think that, yeah,» said Andre.

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