As far as lake monsters go, you’ve probably heard of Nessie...but have you heard of Ogopogo? Ogopogo hails from Canada’s Lake Okanagan and its legend goes back to the First Nations. Unlike the seemingly gentle Nessie, the folklore behind Ogopogo casts it as an aggressive, even bloodthirsty monster. But, could there be any truth behind this strange creature?
The First Nations, specifically the Salish speaking tribes, have folklore that acknowledges a strange creature lurking in Lake Okanagan. However, they did not call this creature ‘Ogopogo’ instead, it was referred to as N’ha-a-itk, which roughly translates to ‘Lake Demon.’ It was also referred to as the snake-in-the-lake.
N’ha-a-itk ruled the lake with a harsh disregard for humans. If one expected safe passage across the lake, N’ha-a-itk demanded a sacrifice. Often, chickens and other small creatures were killed and then thrown in the water to honor N’ha-a-itk and ensure a safe journey.
Based on the pictographs and on sightings that date back to the 1800s, Ogopogo is often described as a giant snake with shiny gray or green skin. Some reports also claim it has at least one hump and a head that looks like a snake, alligator, or other aquatic beast. There are some reports that claim the head has some sort of horns or antennas attached to it.
That first alleged sighting is believed to have occurred in 1860 or 1872, depending on what you believe. The 1860 account occurred on Rattlesnake Island. According to the tae, a man was on a team leading several swimming horses across the lake and passed by the island. Inexplicably, the horses began being pulled under the water by an unseen, magnificent force.
But the legend of Ogopogo really took off in 1926, years before the infamous Nessie sighting. This sighting, unlike many cryptid sightings, was seen not by just a few people but over thirty eyewitnesses. The sighting was so well-regarded that it was even reported on by the Vancouver Sun. Roy W. Brown, the editor at the time wrote in the article: “Too many reputable people have seen [the monster] to ignore the seriousness of actual facts."
Since these stories and sightings became popularized, sightings of Ogopogo have remained consistent. John Kirk of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club notes, "The catalogue of films and video of Ogopogo are more numerous and of better quality than anything I have personally seen at Loch Ness and I believe that several of them are very persuasive that a large, living, unknown creature inhabits the lake."
Thanks to Kendra P-G for this #Blogstonishing topic!
The above image is Okanagan Lake and steamboat, 1897. It is licensed under Public Domain.