SL10166: A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten’s Cain and the Conception of Evil in Mormon folklore

The Fife Folklore Archives at Utah State University contain dozens of tales which include a line similar to the opening of a story collected at BYU in 1987: “Did you guys know that Cain is really Bigfoot?” Where did this Mormon meme come from? What cultural tendencies does it reflect? What does the evolution of this tale reveal about the changing nature of Mormon folklore, theology, culture, and daily life? The story is long, convoluted, and fascinating. It features the Apostle Paul, Eliza R. Snow, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Spencer W. Kimball; it begins in 1833 and is still evolving today. We’ll touch on demonic possession, the Three Nephites, Yeti sightings in Weber County, and Heber Kimball’s experiences in the British mission. Finally, we’ll try to answer the question: what does folklore tell us about what it means to be Mormon?