A young J Edgar Hoover, who was destined to head the FBI – a man who detested foreign travel, he visited Waterton-Glacier, a park straddling the US-Canada border. Photo: Handout

It was an excellent weekend in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

My young wife and I (sans children) were enjoying a wonderful stay in one of the most beautiful and remote Rocky Mountain parks in the world – all paid for by the local travel gurus.

I was on a junket, writing a travel feature for the Calgary Sun, a perk of the job of being a copy-editor. Occasionally, they threw us a bone, and this one was OK.

An annual event held in the park, it featured music, food, cultural displays and much more – it was a pleasure to take part and meet the locals, which included several seasoned park rangers.

That’s when things got interesting.

We drank beer and we chatted over a fire, the young rangers tossing out stories. But there was one, told by a female ranger, that I never forgot.

It involved a mysterious cabin, by a place called Two Medicine. She was terrified of it, she said, and would never dare go there, especially at night, or alone.

Park rangers had trailed a “beast” of some kind to this cabin, and shot it, she said … only to walk in and discover a man.

The other rangers laughed and mocked her, saying the story was only legend. But the look on her face showed otherwise.

This was obviously a story that stretched one’s imagination, and I thought nothing more of it, for decades. It was simply scary campfire talk.

Until just this week, when a friend of mine sent me an e-mail.

A historian of some repute, he had dug up some information on this case, and he wanted to share it. As a journalist who liked stories from beyond, he knew I’d like it.

It involved FBI director J Edgar Hoover. He had paid a visit to the park, spent two days touring it, crossing into Canada and back.

A man who hated foreigners and never traveled outside the country, it was rather strange of him to do so. But Hoover had a strange connection to the park.

A bizarre investigation – that remains unsolved to this day – had once piqued his interest. He may have wanted to see it for himself. We will never know.

The story – purportedly the first FBI X-File and the agency’s only known case of lycanthropy – went as follows:

In 1946, a creature that can only be described as “a beast” had attacked several homes on the Blackfeet reservation, including seven in Browning, Montana.

As the story goes, each victim was ripped to shreds and eaten, as if by a wild animal.

Several of the victims, however, were found at home, as if they had invited their killer into their homes.

In Glacier National Park, authorities – an assembled kill team of hunters – cornered what they believed was this animal in a cabin.

Apparently, they shot it, or at least believed they had shot it – but when they entered the cabin to retrieve the dead animal, to their shock, they found only the body of Richard Watkins.

The murders stop.

Hoover locks the case away in the what will later come to be known as the X-Files. Initially, they are filed under “U” in Washington FBI offices, for Unexplained Phenomenon.

Having related this tale – which can’t be confirmed or denied at this point – there are many questions that should be asked.

Is it nothing but a myth? Is there a body and was DNA ever extracted from Richard Watkins? What about the trackers, are any of them alive and can they share their story? Did anyone do a police report? Did Hoover and the Federal Bureau of Investigation cover up the entire case? Do native elders on the reserve recount this story?

The truth may still be buried in FBI files.

It is interesting to note that so-called shape shifters are common in native legend.

According to experts knowlegeable in Blackfeet legends, the one that describes a creature that can transform into an animal and back to a human would be a Napi legend.

Napi is a central figure in Blackfeet mythology, often called a “trickster.” Napi stories were meant to convey tribal knowledge and be a learning tool for children.

The popular American television show The X-Files, starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, also featured the story in Episode 19, titled “Shapes.”

In the program, the creature turns out to be a native American.

As for the FBI, it makes no bones about its feelings on the X-Files, listing it as one of the Top Ten myths of the agency.

“The FBI is NOT on point to investigate the supernatural as Scully and Mulder did on the X-Files TV show,” the Bureau’s website states.

“Yes, we do have files on some unusual phenomena – like cattle mutilation, UFOs, and Roswell – but generally only because people reported something and we made a note of it.

“While FBI agents chasing aliens and other supernatural creatures may make good entertainment, it’s not part of our job description, and we don’t have a secret collection of ‘X-Files’ squirreled away somewhere.” 

Perhaps we will never know the truth – there doesn’t seem to be a shred of evidence to back it up, and the natives who are from that generation have almost all left us.

Nobody remembers it or any of these murders – if it did happen, somebody covered it up well.

But why does the legend persist? Why is it still being talked about?

And where is the body of Richard Watkins? Did he ever exist?

There is a famous quote, from director John Ford’s western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), that is one of the most resonant lines in movie history.

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

It has been used as everything from a metaphor for Ford’s own legendary career to a commentary on our present political situation with President Donald Trump.

Several of the victims, however, were found at home, as if they had invited their killer into their homes.

I think this line will haunt me a lifetime – I could not imagine.

But it’s just a native legend, right? Nothing more …

Just the same, I won’t be doing any hiking in Waterton-Glacier, let alone Two Medicine.

For one thing, there are too many grizzlies down there.

They are protected and probably should just be left alone, along with any other creature that wanders that forest at night.

But a part of me wants to see that cabin – in broad daylight, with a ranger … with a rifle.

Take a picture, and then get the hell out of there.

(Attempts by Asia Times to reach the X-files producer Glen Morgan, through his agency fell on deaf ears — no reply was received)

Dave Makichuk is a veteran writer and copy-editor with 35 years’ media experience who lives in Calgary and freelances for Asia Times. A dedicated Detroit Red Wings, Tigers and Lions fan, Makichuk relishes his chosen role as enemy of the state, and defender of the oppressed and downtrodden.