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Gods of the Hunt: Legends of Mysterious Slant-Eyed Giants

Traveling west out of Asheville, North Carolina and crossing the border into Jackson County, one can trace the Caney Fork River along toward the little Tuckasegee community, following NC Highway 107 heading out of the nearby campus town of Cullowhee. There, off a gravel road running between two pastures, is one of the most underrated–and often overlooked–wonders anywhere in the Eastern United States.

Known today as “Judaculla Rock”, the strange stone mound protrudes from the earth just as it did centuries ago, much earlier even than the Cherokee Indians had begun to inhabit the region. According to most estimates by geologists, the stone’s markings date back as much as 3000 years, though on Raliegh-based group a number of years ago supposed that some of the petroglyphs covering the boulder could be twice as old as previous estimates, if not more.

Of all the curious symbols that appear along the stone’s surface, one particular image stands out among the rest, resembling vaguely a hand-like imprint. According to legend, this portion of the stone marks the place where an ancient Cherokee god of the hunt, known as “Tsul’Kalu’,” had leaped from a nearby mountain, and landing within the valley below, had steadied himself against what is now Judaculla Rock. This is, in fact, merely one of several legends regarding Tsul’Kalu’ that still exist, many of which have some fairly remarkable tie-ins with mysterious discoveries of “giants” alleged to have existed in the ancient Americas.

Judaculla Rock

What got me thinking about this initially was a recent interview with researcher Mike Mott, where he discussed repeated allegations that the Smithsonian Institute has engaged in cover-ups regarding anomalous discoveries in the Americas. In at least a few instances, these involved the bones of what appeared to be “giant” bodies recovered from a number of burial mounds throughout the Eastern United States. While many such discoveries have been reported, and were even discussed in the reports of the Smithsonian’s Ethnology Bureau throughout the late 1890s, it seems very strange that such information nonetheless seems to have simply “vanished” from record after that period. Conventional modern explanations claim that soil displacement and erosion had caused the bones of normal-sized bodies to move over time; however, it seems odd that trained scientists with the Smithsonian Institute would have been responsible for such faulty judgement in the official reports they had given, even if it had been more than 100 years ago.

So what does any of this have to do with “Tsul’Kalu’,” a mythic Cherokee god of the hunt, and the seldom discussed stone in Western North Carolina alleged to bear his handprint? In the anthropologist James Mooney’s book Myths of the Cherokee, on page 391 of modern editions he detailed a strange story of “The Giants from the West”:

James Wafford, of the western Cherokee, who was born in Georgia in 1806, says that his grandmother, who must have been born about the middle of the last century, told him that she had beard from the old people that long before her time a party of giants had come once to visit the Cherokee. They were nearly twice as tall as common men, and had their eyes set slanting in their heads, so that the Cherokee called them Tsunil’kälû’, “The Slant-eyed people,” because they looked like the giant hunter Tsul’kälû’… They said that these giants lived very far away in the direction in which the sun goes down. The Cherokee received them as friends, and they stayed some time, and then returned to their home in the west. The story may be a distorted historical tradition.

Tsul’kalu’, of course, was said to be the mythic giant with slanted eyes associated with the initial legend of Judaculla Rock (Judaculla also being a Westernized variation of the earlier “Tsul’kalu'” name). But I found it quite interesting that there was this additional legend associated with “slant eyed giants” that also had to do with this region. Additionally, some modern folklorists have drawn a parallel between Tsul’kalu’ and the Eastern varieties of alleged “Bigfoot” encounters, noting that the Cherokee god of the hunt was believed to live near the summit of steep mountains, and often in caves, which bears similarity to Sasquatch reports and legends more prominent in the Pacific Northwest.


Above: researcher Casey Fox and I scale the mountainside above Judaculla Rock in search of caves rumored to exist there. Photo by Brian Irish.

While it is easy enough to accept these stories as being mere myths or legends the Cherokee people had once told, it still seems strange that, in conjunction with such odd stories, there remain these troubling reports of “missing” skeletons that the Smithsonian Institute was said to have recovered time and time again… skeletons of very large stature. Could there be any more to the stories pertaining to the possible existence of giants in the Ancient Americas, some of which were well known to the Cherokee hundreds of years ago? Even more troubling, if these beings did actually exist, what would be the Smithsonian’s reason for keeping this information from the public, if they had in fact recovered such large, anomalous specimens?

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  • f_galton

    Look up the Ainu and Kennewick Man.

  • alan borky

    Micah I myself’ve sometimes wondered whether some of the facial hair possessing gods described and represented in ancient American accounts and art may in fact’ve been figures with more in common with Sasquatch than bearded races from other continents especially when mythology from those other continents describe often towering half men half beasts with a penchant for teaching ‘higher’ learning as well as a formidable capacity to manufacture weaponry so powerful it verges on the magical.

    There’ll be those of course who’ll snicker when you touched on allegations against the Smithsonian but they probably won’t be familiar with the work of Adrienne Mayor who went back over the notebooks of various archaeologists excavating the likes of Ancient Greek sites and found in their enthusiasm to embrace the cultural quintessentials of those sites they’d unthinkingly tossed aside the likes of huge fossil dinosaur bones they’d found in the midst of various temples not realising the Ancient greeks themselves’d believed these were the bones of their giant godlike ancestors not to mention the monsters they were called upon to fight. In other words one of the implications of her work’s that much of mythology may’ve arose as a way of explaining enormous often weirdly shaped bones clearly belonging to an era before normal sized people arose.

    Another implication of her work though’s that universities and organisations like the Smithsonian did indeed regularly toss aside lose or even destroy strange evidence which didn’t correspond to their beliefs and preconceptions but it wasn’t necessarily always out of a deliberate and conscious desire to maliciously withhold the truth from the public but out of a form of cultural blindness which rendered them incapable of thinking outside the box.

    To give a related example there’re still those who genuinely dispute the possibility incredibly ancient fossils’ve somehow managed to preserve incredibly ancient genetic matter but those who don’t’re now holding their heads in their hands aghast as it begins to dawn on them all that matrix they used to train their students to carefully clean off their fossils before chucking it in the bin as useless crap in all likelihood actually contained traces or at least genetic hints to such things as the colours textures and other properties of dinosaur skin and even possibly traces of biological exudations or secretions like sweat piss or even sexual fluids.

  • Suppose that there is a very powerful, very wealthy, very intelligent, and very secretive “bloodline” that is descended from these giants and they comprise the real behind-the-scenes rulers of most of the world’s affairs. They were rulers in the past as well judging by how they were buried. How difficult would it be for them to exercise control over the disposition of the remains of their ancestors? Why would they do that? If it’s not out of respect for their ancestors then it’s out of determination to maintain their secrecy. They don’t want people asking, “Where did all these giants go? Are there any of them still around?”

    Now this is simply wild speculation but it is an attempt to imagine a possible reason for what appears to be a long-enduring conspiracy. There are other, tamer possibilities. It could be that, despite paleontology making significant strides over the past 150 years, there has always been a cadre of academic stuffed shirts who have been in devout denial of anything that would so upset the prevailing theories of the ascendancy of man that they would rather bury and obliterate evidence than re-shape their views, and this cadre has held sway at the Smithsonian and other museums the whole time.

    I must say the former one would make a far better movie plot, don’t you think? 😉

  • Michaelsta4d

    1And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
    2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
    3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
    4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
    5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
    6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
    7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
    8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:1-8

  • Ron

    Someone should DEFINITELY bring this article to the attention of the H2 history channel that is currently airing a series called “America Unearthed, where a forensic geologist is going all over America , investigating anything that debunks current history. He is looking for evidence of giants, pre columbian artifacts, and evidence that america was visited LONG before Columbus.

  • THIS country can’t be saved by anyone but the lord,THE PEOPLE REFUSE TO WAKE UP,we have criminals in every single government agency, why would the smithsonian be any different? they have a collection of stuff no one will ever see,because its a government controled place, AND just like everything ran by government,its failed to inform the people who paid for it,TILL AMERICA STOPS SUCKING THEM OFF,and drags everyone of them out and hangs them for treason,this country will end and every bit of knowlege will be lost,ALL BECAUSE the women raised a bunch of cowards and there just a pack of girlymen,BOO,did I scare you????????

  • idfcugdm

    “[…] if these beings did actually exist, what would be the Smithsonian’s reason for keeping this information from the public[?]”

    Its obvious to me: To deny biblical truth of the Nephilim.

  • mikeysnoni

    The Smithsonian obviously wants to cover up any evidence that supports the Bible and undermines the worship of Darwin. The Bible states clearly that there were giants on the earth. Since giants would not comfortably fit into the evolution myth, the evidence must be abolished.

  • BillybonesIII

    I love pondering some of the conspiracies floating around these days but this ‘giant’ thing is a bit far out, even for me.
    Just too darn many hoaxes over the years. for example – piltdown man, remember him? Mind you I’ve seen some big guys in my time, in fact I go fishing with one. Nearly capsizes the boat every time he moves his butt! But giant? No.

  • Loren Coleman wrote the book True Giants, in which he explored the folklore and accounts of giant beings (10 foot-tall & higher) in the world.

    In this blog post he posits that giants were eventually decimated by the more advanced humans, but I’m thinking that maybe even with technological superiority a dwindling race of giants might have eventually been hunted down by our ancestors.

  • thejynxed

    Of course it was visited long before Columbus. It’s established fact the Vikings were in the Americas long before Columbus came here.

  • J.Griffin

    They sure have-
    and in numerous departments.

    The “Wright Flyer”,
    for example,
    was NOT so widely accepted as the First Mechanical Flight Aircraft
    until it was donated by the Wright family
    (along with significant funding!)
    to the Smithsonian with the stipulation that it would be presented
    AND defended
    by the Smith as the true “First Flight” aircraft.

    “History is programmed by the winners…”
    -Dr. Simon Tam

    There were numerous other modern claims,
    some dating back to the Civil War era.

    I’m not even counting the more controversial ancient claims….

  • Don Rossman

    well im 25% Cherokee and it is a true fact about this creature it has been talked about over many many years and I have seen it when I was there in NC and I just cant explain it but something happened to me I just can’t explain I lost part of my mind from seeing this thing and I do believe now. and I have a lot of unawncred question’s that IDK if i’ll ever find out

  • Paul Morrow

    I it is believed that the tsul klu can present itself as a man and has been reported that seeing the tsul klu can affect a mans mind that he doesn’t remember mchanon of the encounter. Read about the cherokee devil