Imagine it’s 1993. The Chicago Bulls have won their third NBA championship, Bill Nye the Science Guy is in original syndication, and President Clinton is close to finishing his first year in office. David Holthouse is 23 years old and working on a cannabis farm in a region of Northern California known as the Emerald Triangle. One night while he is watching television in a small cabin a man runs in and tells the owner of the farm about mangled bodies possibly because of Bigfoot. Now almost 28 years later, the new Hulu series Sasquatch investigates what really happened that night.
The three-part series follows Holthouse, who is now an investigative journalist. His work is a little different as he is known for his undercover work in neo-nazi communities as well as his personal essay that details a plan to kill his childhood abuser. Now, Holthouse decides to look into this rumored triple homicide he heard about that was never reported. As more evidence and information comes out of the deep places that exist beneath the redwoods of Northern California unexpected twists come into play. Thankfully, Holthouse’s desire to uncover the truth even in the most dangerous situation makes him a captivating persona to lead viewers on the journey of possible Bigfoot evidence.
At first, I was skeptical that three episodes would correctly look at a crime this interesting but Sasquatch quickly proved me wrong. Interviews with legendary Bigfoot hunters like Bob Gimlin of the Patterson-Gimlin film, lifetime cannabis farmers, professors who study the possibility of a large primate that lives in the forest, and others to help paint a full portrait of the Emerald Triangle experience.
Sasquatch understands the history of the area and how the trauma that is still embedded into the land influences the sinister crimes of the distant past, l993 and today. From the very beginning of the first episode, the investigation recognizes pain. The motivation to wipe out nearly 80 percent of California’s original Native people was gold. Holthouse states, “A lot of blood has been spilled beneath those redwoods trees,” before explaining the violent events of the 1850s that legally allowed Indigenous people of the region to be kidnapped, murdered, and enslaved.
Holthouse then explains the beginning of the timber industry and the extraction of the aging redwoods, some over 1,000 years old. “…in 1970, 95% of all the original redwoods have been cut down,” the journalist states. The events of the California Gold Rush and the timber industry’s birth are just two of the many layers of pain and greed that lay beneath the surface of the Emerald Triangle.
Today the Emerald Triangle is made up of three counties: Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino. This specific region is known for its ability to grow extremely green marijuana plants hence the nickname of this triad. The sinister history that is now ingrained in the land still influences the events of today, something that is made evident especially in the third episode of Sasquatch.
Holthouse’s honest and very human approach to finding the truth really drew me into the details of the Emerald Triangle. Many true crime stories that air feel tainted by an exploitative attitude that was completely absent from Sasquatch. This has to be the product of Holthouse’s collaboration with director Joshua Rofé whose work on another true crime series had a similar pure attitude as it explored the story of Lorena Bobbit.
Even with this authentic anecdote, there was a particular moment in the final episode that really hit me. Holthouse is explaining the number of missing person posters that are up all over the three counties. As he is talking about the copious flyers and stories there is a brief moment where a large banner is shown that says “MISSING” in bright red. Immediately I recognized that banner and even said out loud “That’s Khadijah Britton.”
I knew about this situation because of my own work regarding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit and Trans kin crisis. Khadijah, a citizen of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, has been missing since 2018. Her family and friends have a Facebook group with over 5,000 members who are constantly praying and giving support for Khadijah’s return. I am one of those members.
While many people might not think that Native people still exist in Northern California this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are 17 Native reservations within Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. Sadly, Khadijah’s case is not rare in this area.
Sovereign Bodies Institute is leading the charge to collect data in regards to the Missing and Murdered crisis. One of their most recent progress reports was released in July 2020 and focuses on Northern California. They documented 105 cases from 1900 to 2020, with 87% of these cases occurring since 1980. While Sasquatch might not go into the specifics of the current standings involved with the MMIWG2ST crisis, the discussion of the historical events that inform the continued violence of today along with seeing Khadijah’s banner was especially rewarding.
Sasquatch has all the elements of a great true-crime series. In fact, it is unique in its humanity while it fearlessly looks at the monsters that may or may not exist in the Emerald Triangle. I look forward to the discussions this series inspires and to see what comes next for David Holthouse’s daring investigations.