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This 1959 Government Memo Provided Instructions for Yeti Hunting

What does the government know?
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In 1959, the U.S. State Department received Foreign Service Despatch 75 from the new U.S. embassy in Nepal. It detailed the official guidelines for the hunting of the yeti, which is widely thought to be a legendary, Bigfoot-like creature (or “abominable snowman”) that wanders the Himalayas. According to the memo, the yeti could be photographed, but only killed in self-defense, and any evidence of the existence of the creature had to be turned over to the Nepalese authorities. Additionally, a fee of about $1000 in today’s money was to be paid as the price of any expeditions.

This baffling document came to be known as the “Yeti Memo,” and though conspiracy theorists and cryptid fans want to believe it’s the government's admission of the existence of these monsters, it was actually a clever piece of Cold War-era statecraft.

At the time, the United States was locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and during this conflict they fought several proxy wars in other nations, with both superpowers providing arms and support to opposing sides. Both nations also made strategic alliances with countries in the hope of weakening the other.

By establishing an embassy in previously isolationist Nepal, The U.S. was hoping to keep a close eye on Communist China, which controlled Nepal’s neighbor Tibet; as well as its other neighbor, India, whom they feared was forming an alliance with Russia.

The Yeti Memo was a subtle way for the State Department to signal support for Nepal’s sovereignty and customs while establishing diplomatic relations with the nation. But, hey, if you want to hunt a yeti, you now know the rules.

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