Written by Cherokee author Art Coulson and illustrated by Frank Buffalo Hyde, an Onondaga artist, Chasing Bigfoot is about Chooch Tenkiller. Chooch is not thrilled to be spending some of his summer with his Cherokee story-telling uncles and cousin Janees at a convention in North Carolina. While there, the uncles want to visit Judaculla Rock, a place of spiritual significance to the Cherokee people. Little does Chooch know that he has his own connection to the rock-a connection that could put him in mortal danger.
Cherokee teen Chooch Tenkiller just wants to hang out with his friends, so he isn’t thrilled when his mother makes him accompany his 13-year-old cousin Janees and uncles Jack and Dynamite on a trip to a North Carolina Cherokee reservation. His uncles, who are professional story-tellers, insist that the visit was foreseen generations ago by Tsul’kalu, who was one of the asduleni, or Bigfoot, in which Chooch doesn’t believe. When it turns out that sacred Cherokee site Judaculla Rock is in danger of being sold to developer Dr. Viktor Almasty, Chooch finds that the Bigfoot prophecy is true—and that his predetermined mission to deliver a message to the world may just endanger his life. The alternating perspectives of Tsul’kalu, Chooch, Janees, and Dr. Almasty are distinct, though Dr. Almasty’s chapters, which lean into villainous caricature, aren’t as multidimensional as the others. Coulson (Fishing on Thin Ice), who is Cherokee, adeptly captures a modern Native teen’s struggle between wanting to uphold traditions and striving to carve his own path. Cherokee language is featured throughout, and a celebration of Indigenous culture, community, and the search for identity is deeply rooted in the narrative.