Dr. Jeff Meldrum, a Full Professor of Anatomy and Anthropology, writes in his book Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science:
The first inhabitants of North America were aware of these creatures long before Columbus arrived. They depicted them in their art and ceremonies along with animals more commonly known to the western world. Ceremonial masks and totem figures depicting the wildman display surprisingly apelike features, considering there are no apes in North America to serve as models for these effigies----at least none recognized.
To those pseudo-skeptics who claim Bigfoot is a myth started by a hoaxer named Ray Wallace in the 1950's, Meldrum writes:
To offhandedly dismiss the question of Bigfoot or sasquatch as the outgrowth of some sophomoric prank by a good-humored road building and his relations is to trivialize the profound cultural heritage of the earliest inhabitants of this continent. The figure of a hairy wildman occupies a prominent role in those indigenous cultures that inhabit, or have inhabited in the past, areas associated with what is considered by some likely sasquatch range. The Tsimshian mask, already discussed, suggests an early knowledge by Northwest aboriginals of beings with apelike features.