Published: 9:08 AM 2/3/2011
Older Than the Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo Has Been Around for Centuries
Canada has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster, the Okanagan Lake Monster (or Ogopogo), except that their version is more serpentine.
Where the Loch Ness Monster looks like a plesiosaurus, the Okanagan Lake Monster (Ogopogo), resembles more one of the drawings on the edge of an ancient mariner's map.
It is claimed to look like a very large and long snake, perhaps reaching as much as 60 - 70 feet in length, with a head that resembles that of a bearded goat.
And Ogopogo is said to move very quickly.
Ogopogo was first sighted by a local British Columbia woman in 1872 (actually, the legend and stories of a creature like Ogopogo have been around for countless centuries, but since the discovery or sighting wasn't performed by a European-descended individual, it doesn't count), which makes Ogopogo far older than Nessy, if one goes by sighting age.
The Loch Ness Monster was first sighted in 1926.
Myths and legends of various types of sea serpents have been around for centuries. From the aforementioned sea serpents, sailors delirious from dehydration or near starvation reportedly saw, which may or may not have had their origination in the sightings of giant squid (whence came the kraken), to the Loch Ness Monster and the Okanagan Lake Monster, legendary water monsters have been around for quite some time.
A transfer of the monstrous oceanic sea serpent to a stretch of inner sea would not have been too difficult for the superstitious and those already familiar with stories of such large and sinuous creatures.
But that does not explain the native legends.
Strangemag.com notes that Salish natives to the British Columbia area called the lake monster N'ha-a-itk, or lake demon. The Chinook names mean "wicked one" and "great-beast-on-the-lake."
And N'ha-a-itk, or Ogopogo, or Okanagan Lake monster -- take your pick -- has siblings, according to legend. There are over a dozen large lakes in the area and they have all had lake monsters that resemble Ogopogo spotted in them.
Indians in the area believe that the Okanagan Lake Monster resides on a small island in the lake called, somewhat appropriately enough, Rattlesnake Island.
However, Ogopogo is not an Indian name. The name Ogopogo is beleived to have been constructed for a song about the sightings in the 1920's.
Ogopogo has had a fairly extensive history of strong, credible sightings. Over 200 people have claimed to have seen the lake monster out in Okanagan Lake, including policemen, a priest, and a surgeon. On September 16, 1926, some 30 cars of people watched the monster.
On July 2, 1947 a several boaters saw the snake-like creature. It is one of the few unexplained animals, referred to as cryptids, that have been sighted by groups of people at the same time. But does it truly exist? There are photos and videos of what is claimed to be the Okanagan Lake Monster (any number of which can be found online), but without actual bones or a carcass for scientific verification, that determination is left to the realm of the possible and the unexplained.
This is just a facetious aside, but one must realize that historical books, stories, or tracts are written generally by those who come after, and there is a certain cultural arrogance assumed by a culture that can maintain that something was "discovered" or "sighted" for the first time in this or that year and, in the same sentence, mention the natives that have lived there for millenia or centuries.
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