Zak Bagans is the lead investigator and co-founder of the "Ghost Adventures Crew," one of the largest worldwide networks of professional paranormal investigators, and is the host and lead investigator for the reality TV series on The Travel Channel, Ghost Adventures. Its latest episode, which premieres Saturday at 9pm est, features the Navajo Nation’s Ojo Amarillo Canyon, also known by paranormal enthusiasts as Skinwalker Canyon.
Though Zak Bagans says he was greeted warmly by hundreds of Navajo people, there were critics on social media who claim he ventured into sacred territory. He also says he blocked people on social media that were negative and that though he was challenged for being on the Navajo Nation, he says he was invited and he had permission and a permit to be there.
The Travel Channel did respond to ICMN about this claim, stating, “We can confirm: The producers of Ghost Adventures received permission from the Navajo Nation Film Office’s Office of Broadcast Services to shoot in Ojo Amarillo and Upper Fruitland, New Mexico.”
The Navajo Nation office confirmed the statement.
In a conversation with ICMN, Zak Bagans described his experiences on the Navajo Nation and how he felt venturing into Ojo Amarillo / Skinwalker Canyon.
Some folks have lent support for you going into Skinwalker Canyon, others are opposed to it. What is your position?
I try not to pay attention to the negative stuff. I am a nice guy. If that stuff gets thrown towards me, I don't care who you are or what race you are — purple, white, black — if you send me negative comments for no reason at all, I am going to block you from my life and my profiles.
All I did was tweet that this topic is something Navajo people don't want to speak about. All we wanted to do was come there with respect and we wanted to learn about the skinwalker. If we were not allowed they would not have approved it. There are a few people out there who are likely against what we are doing.
It is funny, because out of all of the filming that we have been doing for the last 10 years, upon arriving at the Navajo Nation, we have never ever been greeted by more happy smiles and fans. That is no exaggeration. There were carloads and groups of people everywhere. We took time out to take as many photos as we could. At one particular moment of filming we probably had about 100 people show up on the Navajo Nation and we included them in the episode.
Sometimes Native people fear their story being told by someone else.
I understand. When we were there, we thought we would allow the Navajo people to tell us their side of what skinwalkers are, you know, the different legends and stuff like that.
While we were there, that is who we worked with. That is who we heard from, the Navajo people. We even got invited to a Navajo warrior ceremony by a medicine woman before we stepped foot into the canyon.
We were honored to be a part of that and I respect all Native Americans and I respect that they were here before us. I am not here to say anything against that. I support them and I look up to them. I want to learn from them, and with any culture, Native American culture, my culture, any culture, there is always their portrayal of monsters and evil spirits and I am just intrigued to hear about those parts of every culture.
I heard about the skinwalkers and Navajo witches. We were invited there, I saw some people on social media say we came in and trampled on their ground, but we were invited there. We got permission to go where we went and we worked with the Navajo people.
The Navajo Nation Film Office and the Travel Channel confirmed you did have a permit for Ojo Amarillo and Upper Fruitland, New Mexico. That said, how did this idea come about in the first place?I've always been intrigued by things such as the Bermuda Triangle. I've always been intrigued by certain geographical areas that hold mystique and supernatural phenomenon. I have heard about the four corners region and the Skinwalker Ranch. At the time, I didn't know what skinwalkers were, so I looked into this and inquired about it. Once we got approval to come there and learn these stories from them, that's what I wanted to hear.Then we were told there was a Skinwalker Canyon area and that we were allowed to investigate it. When we got permission, we accepted that.Where exactly did you go to investigate on the Navajo Nation?The real name of it is Ojo Amarillo Canyon, which I believe was named by the Spanish and means 'yellow eyes.' There are a lot of popular beliefs attached to the skinwalkers.What are some of the things Navajo people told you?A lot of the Navajo people were nonstop talking about [skinwalkers .] We went out to dinner and a Navajo medicine woman and her entire family came and met with us and sat us down and told us in order to do this we would need to do a ceremony with them. I didn't even hesitate, I agreed to do it if that's what they wanted us to do at their request.What was amazing to me is how many of them have had experiences with skinwalkers. A lot of the experiences were negative and they explained to me just how terrifying they are. One woman who worked at the police station told us they were driving and one was chasing them. Another guy told us there was one on his roof. We met a skinwalker tracker who was fully armed.That canyon was really really cool. there was a lot of energy that could be felt. It was a truly unforgettable experience.Have you visited areas in Indian country before?Yeah, we've done a lot different places such as Grand Canyon Caverns and met with the tribal nation there, up in Deadwood and met with Sitting Bull's great-grandson. We've done different ceremonies with the Paiute Tribe in Clark County, Nevada.Any words to share before the episode airs? I just want this to be a positive experience and I hope that some of the small groups showing negativity know that their responses were a bit extreme. I just want folks to enjoy this and send thanks to the people there who were so generous and so nice and thanks to all the great fans that were there too. It was an awesome experience I will never forget.Tell us your thoughts on the Navajo Nation episode, use the hashtag #NavajoGhostAdventure.