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Witness: Jonathan
Location: Altamont, New York
Date of Encounter: June 2005

This encounter was recent, but for it to make sense I'll start from the beginning. I'll also note that I have never been one who is "in touch" with the paranormal, and until relatively recently in my life I haven't had many paranormal encounters.

About a year ago, me and four good friends were relaxing in my basement music studio (two of them were in my band) and we needed to get out of the house, so we piled in a car and drove up on nearby Settles Hill where we parked in a farm access driveway near the road. We backed in, so that if a farmer came we could get out of there in a hurry (after all, we were trespassing). Turns out this was wise.

We had been there about half an hour when out of nowhere came one of the strangest sounds I've ever heard in my life…an unearthly shriek. It sounded like the cliché vulture sound you hear when you think of the deserts in the southwest, combined with the scream of someone being tortured. It had no place or presence, it just was…but it echoed. I was seated in the far right back seat of the car with two of the guys on my left. When I heard it, although it didn't really have a direction, it seemed to come from my left so I looked at them and said "Was that one of you?" They simply looked at me stumped and countered, "No, it wasn't you?" We were out of there. I grew up in this village and around farms, I'm an avid outdoorsman, and have been in the wilderness in many places, so I've heard some strange animal noises. This was nothing I've ever heard and definitely didn't come from an animal!

It wasn't until recently that I started getting to know more people around the village that I found out this isn't an uncommon thing to hear, and that it is rumored to be a Mohawk Indian battle cry. Some say if you go in the woods at night you hear drums and chanting. But something that seems to be consistent is that the only time this shriek happens is when you are up on Settles Hill in an area near an old Indian village, and when you are with a person of Mohawk blood (myself being one). What's also interesting is that descendants of the Mohawk Indians are never scared by this, but the others are. When it happened to me, I wasn't frightened initially…but I became scared when everyone else in the car freaked out.

Recently, when I found out other people have experienced strange things in the woods around the village on the old Indian lands, I began spending more and more time out in the woods. I discovered a beautiful, scenic area that is only a short hike and so I had been out there writing poetry and relaxing for some time.

I went out there one day around noon and it was slightly sunny and a cool day in the seventies. I had a good sized campfire going for myself to keep the bugs away and was situated at my favorite spot atop a hill on the side of the mountain overlooked a waterfall. I was on my cell phone telling my friend Andrew (who had been in the car next to me a year ago that night on Settles Hill) what I'd been hearing from people about what that apparently was. In retrospect, I was being less than respectful in the way I speaking about the spirits and natives of the land during the conversation. I didn't notice immediately, but when I hung up the phone I realized that the temperature had dropped about ten degrees, the sky had clouded over heavily with gray, low-level nimbostratus clouds (but not precipitation), and the wind had picked up violently. It was a perfectly calm sunny day before that and in college I took meteorology courses so I was immediately sure this was highly abnormal. As I said, I'm an avid outdoorsman and pride myself on building strong campfires even when it's wet out. Something put my campfire out during the ten minute conversation. I don't just mean the flames…the whole fire was clean out. No embers, no heat, no steam, no smoke. It was just out. 

The fire clued me in to my verbal disrespect regarding whatever is out in those woods and I started speaking out loud in desperation to the spirits of the land since I was actually worried about the violence of the wind and me being out in a forest. I apologized and explained my intentions for being on their land and all, and upon concluding the wind just died out. Dumbstruck, I went back to relighting the fire (it started back up with no problems) and by the time it was going again, the temperature had come back up and it was sunny again. Whatever I angered was apparently satisfied with my explanation, thankfully.

When I came back down off the mountain into the village, nobody else had noticed anything odd with the weather (believe me anyone would've noticed what I experienced). Never in my life of living here have I seen weather patterns like this. I learned my lesson though, and I will never again go into the forests and hills around here with anything short of total respect. 

If anyone has information on the Mohawk Indians in this particular area or similar experience, please feel more than free to contact me! I'm still figuring this out, as well as a few other things that have happened to me and people I know in the woods here.

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