Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Where the Phantom Panthers Roam
Until the mid 17th Century Erie Pennsylvania held the tribal center of the Eriez Indians. The name Eriez or Erie is a shorter form of the Iroquoian word "Erielhonan" meaning literally "long tail" referring to the native panther skins that many of the tribe wore ceremonially. The panther (cougar or mountain lion) was the native Eriez totem. They honored and emulated the stealthy cats that were the top of the contemporary indigenous food chain. Although a small tribe when compared to their neighbors the Seneca or Susquehannocks, they stood boldly against larger enemies and welcomed refugees from neighboring wars. this did not make them very popular with the other tribes in the area and by the late 17th century the Eriez tribe had been either wiped out by war or assimilated by the Iroquois. Within a century the large panthers that were the totem of the Eriez had also vanished from the lands of North Western Pennsylvania.
Or did they?
Historically the last Indigenous big cats of Western Pennsylvania were in 1871 near a small town Clinton County.
However there are hundred of reported sightings of Pennsylvania Panthers every year. Most have the appearance of a Mountain Lion or Cougar, but some are of the familiar Black Panther type that are being reported across the Eastern United states, great Britain and Europe.
Recently Cryptomundo reported such a Black panther sighting in Loren Coleman's hometown of Decatur Illinois earlier this month (March). A Black Panther was seen scurrying through a Decatur suburban neighborhood.
The previous month, on February 17th 2010 I myself had a simlar experience. However, I have to believe the Black Panther that I experienced that cold February afternoon was not entirely physical.
To read of this incident, plese look to my book, "Eerie Erie:Tales of the Unexplained from Northwestern Pennsylvania" out August 2011 from The History Press.