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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mystery: Nyagwaiheogwa

A picture of a bear from Wikipedia.

Due to that lovely thing called real life problems, I’ve been seriously forced to forego the plans for the end of the month stories. However, I’m too stubborn to give up now. So stories like (which I promised when I wrote about Meat Stations) won’t be covered. However, I still have some fun, peculiar little tales to share with you all. However, they’re likely to be extremely short. I digress though; today’s story is the Nyagwaiheogwa.

The Story

Let’s head over to the Cryptid Archives Wiki for this one. The Nyagwaiheogwa goes by two other names: Tagesho and Yagesho, which translate to “Naked Bear”. This creature was said to have resided in northern New York, according to Iroquois legends, but was hunted to extinction in the 17th century.

Appearance wise, the Nyagwaiheogwa was said to have had a long body, broad down from its shoulders, but it got thinner around its hind legs. It sported a large head too and had a “fearful look”. All in all, it was more or less a bear, albeit an abnormally large one. These types of creatures are actually a lot more common than you think—especially when it comes to Grizzly Bears. Reports of giant Grizzlies are far more common than you’d think and while one may ponder if they’re just abnormally large due to genetics or something else, there are some who are adamant that they’re living fossils. I digress though, let’s move on.

The Nyagwaiheogwa was said to have been extremely dangerous and was prone to mauling and devouring local Native Americans. Now, bears aren’t exactly known for being man-eaters, but Grizzly Bears and Polar Bears can and will attack if they feel threatened. However, neither are native to New York state and while mother bears sure as heck won’t hesitate to defend their cubs, Brown and Black Bears aren’t man-eaters by any stretch of the imagination.

Eventually however, the Nyagwaiheogwa was hunted to extinction and the Iroquois no longer had to fear the peculiarly named “Naked Bear”. So that begs the question: what exactly was this creature? Well, there are some theories that we can throw around, so let’s go over them.


1. It was an abnormally large bear

For our first theory, we have probably the most level-headed explanation: it was simply a really big brown bear. There’s nothing more to it than that. Sorry if you were hoping for a long-winded explanation; there’s seriously nothing more to it.

Okay, fine, let’s talk a bit more about this. Every now and then, there are animals that end up becoming remarkably massive. Genetics, disease, and other things can be the cause for this. I’m not a veterinarian, but it’s really fascinating to see how some animals can end up growing to become so large, they look like someone ran an image through photoshop to make them look three times their normal size. As such, the idea to this theory is that a bear—or perhaps bears—ended up in a one-in-a-million scenario where they all grew to be abnormally large and as such, they didn’t fear any man. Who’s the apex predator, now?

2. It was an unknown species of giant bear

As I said earlier: reports of giant Grizzly Bears exist. This goes for other bears, like Polar Bears. As such, the idea that this could have been a giant Grizzly—or perhaps an unknown species of massive Brown Bear—is probably one of the few times where the idea of a cryptid isn’t something too crazy. Instead, it’s asking for nothing more than “it’s a known creature, but bigger”.

3. It was a legend

The third and final theory we have is that this was all just a legend. Native American stories are one of those things that will seriously vary from person-to-person; some will treat them with respect regardless of their beliefs, others will scoff at them, and then some just go with the flow. When it comes to the creatures of legend, there are some that people treat with more respect than others (Skinwalkers come to mind). In the case of Nyagwaiheogwa though, while there are some legends to it, the creature itself is one of those things that’s documented as having been real in some capacity. At the absolute least, it’s at least a creature spoken of in a way outside of having been a legend. So make of that what you will.

My Take

Honestly, I think this creature was just a very large bear. Whether it was a living fossil or perhaps a Grizzly, I don’t know, but I doubt this was simply a normal legend. The idea of a large bear that was a man-eater isn’t exactly abnormal in and of itself, so I highly doubt it’s merely a legend. Though as is the case with many old tales, embellishment as time goes on is extremely common and as such, I don’t think that every single detail is completely accurate.


The Nyagwaiheogwa is a cryptid with a name that I cannot pronounce, but it’s one of those simpler stories that reminds us that not every cryptid needs to be something fantastical like Mothman. Sometimes, a story of a man-eating bear is all it takes to invoke a sense of curiosity. So tell me in the comments below what you think this creature was. Until next time, take care and don’t become like the Grizzly Man.

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