#15 – The Nakani & The Valley Of The Headless Men

There are lots of theories as to why we are yet to conclusively prove the existence of even one variety of Bigfoot-like cryptid. The explanations range from their natural fear of man to their wily cunning in deliberately avoiding us right through to their simple lack of numbers. The inaccessibility of their terrain can also hamper efforts.

Ooh, and one more possibility – in the case of the Nakani, one of the reasons they’ve never been killed or captured is their tendency to brutally behead any and every silly fucker stupid enough to come looking for them. After all, it’s hard to drag a corpse back for the scientific community to analyse when you’re a little preoccupied being dead yourself.

Also known as the Nuk-Luk, these hairy neanderthal-like ‘bushmen’ are said to inhabit the Nahanni Valley, an area of one of Canada’s most unpopulated and spectacular national parks. Fed by hot springs and sulfur geysers, the valley is often shrouded in mist and would make an absolutely badass spot for a supervillain’s hideout:

This was a long way to go for a bit of dogging.

This was a long way to go for a spot of dogging.

Of course, most supervillains have death rays, or laser sharks, or weaponised panda armour or something equally ridiculous. The Nakani seem to be remarkably advanced, but only in terms of their Bigfoot cousins – they make do with tools and primitive clothes.

In 1964, a naked Nakani was spotted by John Baptist and several other trappers at the junction of the Liard and South Nahanni rivers. It growled at them and fled into the woods. Two months later near Fort Simpson, a fourteen-year old boy and his father encountered a similar hominid, this time dressed in a deerskin and carrying a stone axe. Both parties described the hairy body, pointed back of the head, flowing beard and facial features remarkably similar to those of a typical Neanderthal.

Oh look, it's Ron Perlman in his pyjamas.

Oh look, it’s Ron Perlman in his pyjamas.

Encounters are still reported to this day and range from glimpses of the creature itself to hearing its odd whistling call, or passing hikers suffering stones thrown at them and their camps by unseen things in the bush. Some claim to have left hunting kills out on their properties overnight, only to find them neatly stripped of their skins the next morning. Given the track record of other areas of the Nahanni Valley, these encounters are tame – after all, you don’t give areas nicknames like The Valley of the Headless Men or The Funeral Range if they seem like the perfect places to build a series of candy factories staffed by puppies.

Although they weren’t the first disappearances in the valley, the legend began in earnest with the deaths of prospectors Willie and Frank McLeod, whose headless corpses were found at the height of the gold rush in 1908. Since then two other headless bodies have turned up in the Nakani’s apparent home turf, with at least a dozen or so other people vanishing completely (less conservative estimates put the figure at nearer 50). Although the established wildlife of the Nahanni Valley means it isn’t the safest place in the world at the best of times, neatly ripping off heads isn’t particularly bearlike behaviour. We can also rule out an insanely committed serial killer due to the 100-year span of the disappearances. At between five and six feet tall, the Nakani isn’t the biggest hominid in cryptid folklore, but it certainly seems to be the most murderous.



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