Underwater Panther, George Gustav Heye Center, National Museum of the American Indian
|First Sighting||1903 or Potentially American Indian Times|
|Country||United States of America|
|Habitat||Okoboji Lake, Iowa|
Obojoki, otherwise known as the Lake Okoboji Monster, is a lake monster from East Okoboji Lake, Iowa.
The monster is described as a large aquatic animal with a head the size of a bowling ball. Its color is dark greenish brown and is known to knock people out of small boats.
The lake ranges in depths between 22 feet to a depth of over 140 in some areas because the lake was carved out many thousands of years ago by ancient glaciers and perhaps some time between then and now, some kind of creature found its way into the lake and has remained there all this time. Some believe it is a species of fish while others think it may somehow be a seal or a sea serpent.
Iowa's American Indian Underwater Dragon
Historically, Iowa was inhabited by various Algonquian Indian tribes, such as the Kickapoo, the Iowa River "Mahouea", Mascouten, Sauk and the Meskwaki (Fox). The Meskwaki (Fox) spoke of an aquatic dragon, commonly known as the Underwater Panther (Naamipeshiwa or Peshipeshiwa). Native-languages.org describes this dragon as "...A powerful mythological creature something like a cross between a cougar and a dragon. It is a dangerous monster who lives in deep water and causes men and women to drown." Some archaeologists believe that underwater panthers have been depicted as early as the Mississippian culture in the prehistoric American Southeast. The Ojibwe of the Great Lakes have their own version of the Underwater Panther known as the Mishipeshu or Mishibijiw.
European Colonist Encounters
There are a few stories of encounters with this great beast. A Jesuit missionary named Claude Dablon told a story about four Ojibwa Indians who embarked on a journey to the home of Water Panther to take some copper back to their home, and use it to heat water. The very second they pushed off and backed into the water with their canoe, the eerie voice of the water panther surrounded them. The water panther came growling after them, vigorously accusing them of stealing the playthings of his children. All four of the Indians died on the way back to their village; the last one surviving just long enough to tell the tale of what had happened in his final moments before he finally died.
During the 1840s there was a copper rush; people there had realized the value of copper which was for the taking around Isle Royale and Keweenaw Peninsula. There was great suffering and accidents to which many key people and vessels fell victim. The steamer Cumberland was lost at the Rock of Ages Reef on Isle Royale. Another ship, by the name of Algoma, was sunk in a storm during 1885, and forty-five people sunk to a watery death in the creature's lair.
Sightings in Okoboji Lake
The first official sighting comes from 1903 when Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bartlett reported to see splashing in the
lake from their boat. The powerful waves he said were enough to tip over their boat so they left before their boat had a chance to tip. He said he believed it to either be a lake Serpent or a fish the size of skiff.
Almost 100 years later another report in June of 2001 comes from a women that was staying at a resort with a dock over looking the lake with her 2 children. She and the 2 children reported seeing a large humped body about 5 feet long with snake pattern scales with a head that looked like a cross between a lizard and horses; and, it was a dark bluish green. She also reported the
creature swam about a dozen meters away with its mouth wide open as if taking a long breath before heading right to the dock where they stood. It dove right before hitting the pole that kept the dock stationary. The creature caused the dock to rapidly shake with a big thud under the wooden planks, This caused the women and her children to run to shore.
- Penney, David W. (2004). North American Indian Art. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-20377-6.