Alaskan Killer Bigfoot is on the Travel Channel for reruns, causing questions about its unreality to re-emerge – is it real, or is it fake?

WARNING: Content of a potentially disturbing nature ahead

The Discovery reality TV show originally debuted on December 7, 2021.

Its final episode, Nantinaq’s Revenge, aired on January 18, 2022. But it’s been enjoying a second stomping on the Travel Channel in recent weeks.

Some like it; some don’t. But whether you believe it or not is another question. Here’s what we know about what happened in Portlock, Alaska in the mid 20th century.

USA, Alaska, Denali National Park, caribou in front of Mt.McKinley
Other common name: reindeer. Latin name: Rangifer tarandus.

When did it first come out?

Discovery series Alaskan Killer Bigfoot is a “reality TV” show, which suggests that everything that’s going on on-screen is 100% real.

Its premise is that 70 years ago, a “murderous Bigfoot-like creature” called Nantinaq (or Nantiinaq) “sent residents fleeing” from the town of Portlock, in Alaska. An expedition of brave souls – or rather happy-go-lucky reality TV participants – have chosen to return to the site to reclaim the land.

“The team’s 40-day sojourn in the icy Alaskan wilderness tests their mettle, their faith and their ability to survive,” reads its blurb on the Discovery Plus press release that originally announced its run.

The most up-voted user-submitted review on IMDB gives Alaskan Killer Bigfoot seven stars, and reads thus: “Is it fake? Probably. 😉 Is it fun to watch? Yes.”

Is Alaskan Killer Bigfoot real or fake?

The conclusion you come to likely depends on your own personal set of beliefs regarding the inexplicable.

The real life residents of the town of Portlock, in which Alaskan Killer Bigfoot is set, really did flee their seaside town in 1950. Why? Because, so the story goes, of an “unexplained hairy creature” that supposedly “continuously assaulted and stalked the villagers, murdering them and leaving their bodies, until they finally all abandoned the area.”

That’s Only In Your State’s summary of what allegedly happened at Portlock, Alaska. In 1931, 19 years before Portlock residents fled the area, the outlet adds that a man chopping wood was killed by a “single blow that seemed stronger than a human could manage.”

A group of hunters reportedly found “giant footprints” over 18 inches long. The locals called it Nantiinaq, meaning “half-man, half-beast” or “big, hairy creature.”

A dark scary concept. Of a man looking at a mysterious bigfoot monster, standing in a forest. At night
A dark scary concept. Of a man looking at a mysterious bigfoot monster, standing in a forest. At night

What really happened in Portlock?

According to an account KINY Radio cited in its 2018 report on the “mysteries of Portlock, Alaska,” locals started talking about a “hairy Big Foot type Yeti monster”; a “spirit of a woman dressed in black clothes that would come out on the cliffs above town”; and hunters frequently going “missing.” 

But the co-founder of Juneau’s Hidden History, a Facebook group that tracks of Alaskan tales of natural history, has suggested that the story on which Alaskan Killer Bigfoot’s premise rests is, in fact, not real.

“Maybe they were seeing an extremely large bear in the area,” KINY Radio quotes him as suggesting. “From a distance of say 100ft, your brain has never seen a bear that big, so you put together an idea of what you think you saw.

“If the bear is standing up say in the 10-12ft range, it may be the biggest bear you’ve ever seen and so your brain may not put together that that’s a bear. Maybe you’re seeing it from a strange angle or it’s too close to trees so you can’t see its whole shape.”

I Am A Killer | Season 3 First Look | Netflix

I Am A Killer | Season 3 First Look | Netflix

The effect it had was real even if the Alaskan Killer Bigfoot isn’t

Regardless of whether or not Nantiinaq – or Nantinaq, as Alaskan Killer Bigfoot’s producers spell it – was a giant, Bigfoot-style monster with 18in feet and the ability to carry a moose traceless through the woods, the people of Portlock did indeed leave the town en masse. 

Enough people reported seeing Nantiinaq (pronounced Nan-te-nuk) for his – or her – grip to take hold.

The woman spirit “dressed in draping black clothes” who would “come out of the cliffs” also comes up, as recently as 2009, in the recollections of former Portlock residents.

So Alaskan Killer Bigfoot might not be real, per se. Partly the side of the line you fall on depends on how you feel about similar “beings” like Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie and the Skunk ape of Florida. But the idea that the reality show rests on, that people might go and try to rebuild an abandoned town, certainly is real.

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