"A vast array of articles, pamphlets, books, and monographs were published by the FWP on all aspects of American life, including history, folklore, nature studies, children's educational materials, and the first ethnic studies to reach the general public. No one knows exactly how many publications bear the imprint of the Federal Writers Project or Writers Program, but one statistic claims that in seven years, at the cost of $27,189,370.00, seven twelve-foot bookcases of printed materials were authored, including 378 commercially published books."
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE WPA (linked below)
NEW MEXICO: A GUIDE TO THE COLORFUL STATE
COMPILED BY WORKERS OF THE WRITERS' PROGRAM
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION (WPA)
The graphic above depicting the book NEW MEXICO: A Guide To The Colorful State was one of those vast array of books so mentioned in the opening quote. It was compiled and written exclusively by authors and peoples under the good graciousness and auspices of the Depression era WPA program. The individuals so cited within the context of the book, be they writers, visual artists, etc., were all exemplary members of the New Mexico art community. Below describes one of those members:
The New Mexico artist so selected from and so mentioned within the text of the book and presented here was not only an up-and-coming well respected artist, albeit an east coast transplant of Caucasian descent, he also became well accepted by most spiritual elders and tribal members of the indigenous people of the desert southwest he interacted with as a person at one with the Earth. He eventually married a Native American of the Little Shell Plains Ojibwe who was a fourth level Midewiwin medicine woman that was held in awe by most that came within her presence. He himself moved with an almost cloak-like and uncanny nearly invisible ability, passing among people and places without disturbing the environment. Some say he was a Cloud Shaman and it may very well be the case. However, for the most part, he felt it was an impropriety to usurp for ones own gain or any other reason the traditional spiritual realms of others. Plain speaking he followed two very basic concepts: "When walking in the woods, never leave tracks," and "when you depart from a campground, always leave it better than you found it." Both concepts, although worded specifically in context, were meant to be expanded to the world and ones life as a whole.
While it is true in his early years in New Mexico he had to overcome seemingly unsurmountable traditional and cultural roadblocks to be viewed as "one with the Earth" in the eyes of the indigenous people of the desert southwest he interacted with, it did not just happen overnight.
Starting just out of high school he began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and the Art Student's League in New York City. A year or two before the start of the Great Depression and barely into his 20s he decided to follow an important and well established artist he met and studied under named John Sloan to New Mexico. Sloan traveled to New Mexico each year for a few months to paint and relax. On their second or third trip, when Sloan returned to New York, is protege stayed, having fallen in love with Santa Fe, the culture and the desert southwest. The protege, especially before the advent of the Depression era Works Project Administration arts program, better known as the WPA, was, if not more so, still a struggling artist and to stretch his limited funds and maintain his health he began fishing, hunting rabbits, and looking into the potential possibility of edible and medicinal plants indigenous to the desert. In doing so he was soon coming in contact with Native Americans. At first they found the white man foraging in the wilderness one day and painting pictures the next day a bit strange and kept their distance, but after awhile they discovered he was neither there to destroy the environment nor to exploit them. A few Indians, and then soon more and more, began to assist him, and in return he helped them with marketing their wares and making their art more commercially viable. He began looking into local plants, soils and rocks to enhance pigments and dyes. Overcoming many deep rooted apprehensions and suspicions he soon became accepted as one with the Earth and eventually many secrets and rituals that would otherwise not have been revealed were shared with him without concern.
Back then borders were just lines on paper, if that. As it was, most people didn't even have the paper. Arizona didn't exist as a state until only a few years before. In the desert wilderness traveling from New Mexico into Mexico into Arizona meant nothing. Tribal units pretty much kept to their traditional lands that basically just ran from their central operating core until they faded out with no specifically designated border. Although peoples of one group might interact with peoples of other groups they kept their secrets to themselves. He went between tribal areas and cultures up and down and across the desert interacting and learning different ways and methods of either doing the samething or not doing the samething, giving him a much broader base of understanding. What might be poison to one group another found away around and a use. Where medicinal plants, datura or peyote might be ignored by one group, one, the other, or all might be embraced by another group or clan. Learning and respecting local and traditional curing methods and rituals, over time what the artist learned then did was refine and synthesize, strengthening here, eliminating there.
The artist so alluded to in the above was my father's brother, my Uncle. During one of his travels in the desert southwest, and unrelated to art per se', my uncle crossed paths with a young boy, 16 or 18 years of age, who had separated himself from "riding the rails" in one section of the desert by taking a short cut on foot across some rather harsh portions of the New Mexico wasteland in an attempt to hop a train somewhat more friendly to his hobo-like demeanor. My uncle found him, albeit still up-right and walking, nearly dying of thirst and starving. The boy turned out eventually to be Louis L'Amour, the author of nearly 100 western novels. Some of his travails surrounding he and my uncle has shown up in L'Amour's books.
For a full and free complete unabridged online version of the book NEW MEXICO: A Guide To The Colorful State in PDF format including a good portion of the backup material used for the above regarding my uncle, please click the following link:
NEW MEXICO: A GUIDE TO THE COLORFUL STATE
The book in question, NEW MEXICO: A Guide To The Colorful State, was published in 1940, and as the title infers deals almost exclusively with New Mexico and thus then New Mexico based artists. The book itself is what is called a compilation, with various sections written by a various WPA authors. However, in the end, as a book, it was edited by Joseph Miller.
Twenty-two years later, long after his WPA days were over, Miller, continuing in the writing and editing field and almost always exclusively aimed toward some aspect of the desert southwest, turned his concentration toward the state of Arizona. So said, among other things he edited a book titled ARIZONA CAVALCADE: The Turbulent Times, pictured below.
What is interesting about Arizona Cavalcade, edited by Miller and published in 1962, is the section that appears in the book on one of the most controversial subjects to ever show up in the lore of the desert southwest: A story regarding a secretly hidden ancient hand-hewn cave said to be carved out of the solid rock cliff sides high up on one of the walls above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The cave is said to be composed of many rooms and deep within one of those rooms is said to be a more than life size carved statue of the Buddha. Although Miller has it in the book, the whole controversial story is based on an article, true or false, that was published in the 1900s by a reputable newspaper called the Arizona Gazette.
On Monday April 5, 1909, the evening edition of the Arizona Gazette printed an article on the front page that said on the previous day, Sunday April 4th, a man identified by newspaper accounts as an archaeologist and explorer, reportedly working for the Smithsonian and said to go by the name G.E. Kincaid, "related to the Gazette" that archaeologists of the Smithsonian Institute, of which he was one and of which was financing the expedition, were exploring a mysterious cave high up on the walls of the Grand Canyon hewn out of solid rock by human hands that he, Kincaid, discovered. Among other things the article goes on to say:
"Over a hundred feet from the entrance is the cross-hall, several hundred feet long in which is found the idol, or image, of the people's god, sitting cross-legged, with lotus flower or lily in each hand. The cast of the face is oriental, the carving shows a skillful hand, and the entire object is remarkably well preserved, as is everything in this cavern.
"The idol almost resembles Buddha, though the scientists are not certain as to what religious worship it represents. Taking into consideration everything found thus far, it is possible that this worship most resembles the ancient people of Tibet."
THE SECRET OF THE AZTEC TREASURE
GENE AUTRY COMICS, NOVEMBER 1942 VOLUME 1, ISSUE #3
(please click either image)
Many people, both credible and questionable, have researched and investigated all aspects of the contents of the article and have continued to come up short with any hard evidence of such a cave or even the existence of Kincaid himself. Many of those same investigators say the Smithsonian has no record of having any such person, persons, researchers, or archaeology-like teams participating in any venture similar to or like the ones so attributed to in the article.
It wasn't until around 1925 with my uncle being in his early 20's that he showed up in New Mexico. Since he was living mainly in and around the Santa Fe area in his early years, it is highly unlikely he would have had any access to the 1909 Arizona Gazette article in question or its contents. Given the sixteen year gap, the question arises how is it the artist, my uncle, became privy to the existence of such a cave?
It has to do with Miller's 1962 book.
There is no doubt Miller's book was not a world-wide best seller. However, in Arizona and for those with a historic interest in Arizona, it was fairly popular. Most importantly, relative to me personally, as fate would have it, there was a heavy duty connection between Miller and my uncle, and because of which, made my uncle very familiar with Miller's book and it's contents, especially so the section on Kincaid titled Citadel of the Grand Canyon (which is not to say my uncle didn't know about it already as there is a possibility he may have been directly responsible in bringing the legend of the cave to Miller's attention).
When the original 1909 Arizona Republic article was published my uncle was somewhere around seven years old and yet to travel any farther west than Pennsylvania. Nearly thirty years later, in 1940, the first edition of the aforementioned NEW MEXICO: A Guide to a Colorful State was published --- which dealt with New Mexico citizens that were artist-participants of the Depression era government program called the WPA, the Work Project Administration, and of which, my uncle was one.
The book, although a compilation, was by all people Joseph Miller. In that my uncle was both an artist-participant in the WPA and long established in New Mexico, through the creation of the book, he came to know Miller. My uncle, liking how the WPA artists were cast in such a favorable light, including himself, he made it a point to follow Miller's career, thus coming into contact with his 1962 book. In turn, in the circles my uncle traveled, if the Kincaid cave had not been on the forefront of things prior, after the publication of Miller's book the fact of it's existence relative to the newspaper article wasn't totally lost.
"As Trungpa put it, he had become privy to strong rumors, at least in how it related to the legends and lore of the desert southwest, that an ancient Buddhist temple, perhaps Tibetan, existed deep in a cave high along the walls of the Grand Canyon, and if it was so, he wanted to see it. He said where he came from there was usually more truth to such legends than falsehood, it was only that the truth was veiled to the unknowing. He had been told by powers that be if there was anybody that would know or could get him there, it would be my uncle. My uncle told him that as long as he could remember he had heard of such rumors and legends, but that as he was presently constituted and stood before him, he himself had never tread foot in such a place as he described. Such places, my uncle said, when they do exist are typically known only to a few and not meant to be trespassed against."
CHEGYAM TRUNGPA RINPOCHE: Buddhism In America Before Columbus
Personally I think there is more to the story than we have command of. So said, it is my opinion that there may be some sort of a connection between the potential existence of a Buddha Cave and the deified priest or lama called Quatu Zacca said to have been living in a small house on an island near the Colorado River. If such is the case then, just what does a sanctuary of Lamaisra, or of Buddhism located on the North American continent in present day Nevada around 500 AD, and clearly stated in the written accounts to be in a small house near a lake on an island in the Colorado River, have to do with anything? Possibly, for example, the two Buddhist monks and a woman, as found in The Mystic Aztec Sun God, traveling southbound on a raft loaded with goods apparently from quite a distance north up the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon some 500 years after Hui Shen visited Quatu Zacca and on the way to the same Lamaisra circa 1100 AD. A trip that the three appeared to have done many times.
In the book The Coronado Expedition, 1540-1542, Smithsonian Institution, 1892-1893, Part 1, author George Parker Winship, on page 406, Winship, speaking of one of Coronado's captains, Hernando de Alarcon questioning Native Americans he came in contact with along the Colorado River in 1540 AD, writes:
"When asked about gold and silver, the Indians said that they had some metal of the same color as the bells which the Spaniards showed them. This was not made nor found in their country, but came 'from a certain mountain where an old woman dwelt.' The old woman was called Guatuzaca."
That certain mountain where an old woman called "Guatuzaca" dwelt, a mountain that the Indians said had gold and silver, is quite possibly the spawning ground where the stories of the Grand Canyon Buddhist cave first emanated. It is not totally unusual for gold and silver, if not placer driven, to be dug out of the ground meaning a good chance of a cave, i.e., a mine. However, was the old woman really mining for gold or simply gathering it up off the floor of the Kincaid cave and sending it down river a little at a time? Was the cave as big and as elaborate as told by Kincaid or was it just a mine to get gold and silver out of the ground? So too, if Guatuzaca was a Buddhist, it wouldn't be beyond comprehension that she might fashion a statue of Buddha. From that one small story, a cave, a carved Buddha, gold and silver, a whole legend could grow. As for Guatuzca, a woman at the mine in the mountains, and Quatu Zacca being deified priest or lama at the Buddhist sanctuary on an island in the Colorado River, I think they were separate people, it's just that the Indians blanketed them all under the broader term Quatu Zacca.
COTTONWOOD ISLAND (NEVADA)
Below is a copy of the newspaper article that gave root to the story that showed up in the book edited by Joseph Miller titled ARIZONA CAVALCADE: The Turbulent Times in 1962. Why Miller, as the editor of the book, selected and included the Grand Canyon cave story is not known other than perhaps a hint of such as found in the quote above regarding the artist. Other than that, if he had any additional hard core conclusive evidence or sources other than what appeares in the Gazette article he never revealed it:
FOR A CLEAR TEXT VERSION CLICK HERE
FOR A CLEAR TEXT VERSION CLICK HERE
BUDDHISM IN AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE WPA
THE NARRATIVE OF HOEI SHIN
U.S. HISTORY: THE NEW DEAL
THE WPA: PUTTING PEOPLE BACK TO WORK
HUI SHEN: BHIKSHU
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
Near midnight on July 3, 1944 the nephew of the above artist in question, the nephew then at the time being only a very young boy, was riding as a passenger on the record setting all-first-class Santa Fe Chief out of Chicago on it's way toward Los Angeles. The Chief, being pulled by a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 90 inch drive wheels, on a downhill high speed run at over 90 miles per hour between Flagstaff and Williams, Arizona hit a 55 mph curve and derailed, sliding off the tracks through the desert over the length of two football fields before coming to a stop, injuring 126 and killing four.
The nephew of the artist escaped unharmed through a set of unusual circumstances put into place by his uncle with the help of a Native American tribal spiritual elder. Because of the wreck the adult or adults the nephew was traveling with had been hospitalized, being left without adult supervision. The artist, living in Santa Fe and the closest relative was contacted and he in turn contacted a close by tribal spiritual elder he knew to watch over his nephew until he could get there. The boy recognized the spiritual elder the moment he walked into the hospital waiting area looking for him because of the events as found in the following quote:
"Mid-evening on the night of the-unknown-to-anybody at the time up-coming crash I had gone to bed in the bunk in my compartment and as far as I knew had fallen fast asleep. Sometime during that period between the time I fell asleep and the crash occurred I found myself neither asleep nor in my bunk but outside of the train standing barefoot on the desert floor in the middle of the night in my PJs some distance off from a set of railroad tracks, my hand being held by an elderly Native American man."
THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF
The artist so alluded to in the above main text, prior to participating in the WPA, was already an up-and-coming artist. In the years afterward, much to thanks of the WPA, he edged even higher into being a fairly well established artist, especially so amongst his fellow desert southwest peers.
He was also as well, a biosearcher, a botanist of sorts that looks for and searches out new species of plants in the wild. Prior to his death in 1989, as a biosearcher, he had more than a half dozen plant species named after him following years of trekking, searching, and discovering previously unknown and unnamed plants all over mostly remote and hidden areas and sections of the desert southwest. In 1943 he was biosearching alone in the then largely uninhabited mountainous and desert-like terrain in the central section of New Mexico between the New Mexico and Arizona border on the west and the north-to-south flowing Rio Grande on the east.
In the process of his biosearching he came across two men, and unusually so, both Asian. One of men was flat on his back all but unconscious and visibly quite ill after apparently having been bitten by a rattlesnake with the bite being left untreated. The artist, after using the healing properties of indigenous plants he gathered up, soon found the man up and around. One of the men who had a rudimentary use of English told the artist they were Japanese, were testing soil samples for radioactivity, and had been left off in Mexico by a submarine. By then the biosearcher come artist was wanting to beat a hasty retreat, but before he could one of the men pulled a pistol and shot him in the back point blank. They took his truck and although they left him to bleed out, thanks to some Native Americans who had been observing from a distance, he survived. In 1985 a book titled The Japanese Secret War authored by Robert K. Wilcox was published. In the book Wilcox writes about the two Japanese men the artist encountered and the U-boat they arrived in, of which more can be found at the source so cited:
"Wilcox's book that, for the first time brought to the public's attention Japanese agents having been in the desert southwest during World War II specifically tasked with testing soil samples for radiation, was published in 1985. It was well before, in 1970, that my uncle told me about his 1943 encounter with Japanese spies soil testing deep into state of New Mexico and the fact that they, according to their own testimony, had initially been brought to Mexico via a German U-boat from Europe."(source)
It was because of my uncle's role and expertise as a biosearcher, and well before I entered the picture, that somewhere along the way he met a woman by the name of Myrtle Botts. She herself was a highly regarded amateur botanist, who in an odd sort of way became infamous in the lore of the desert southwest. Although much has been written about Botts, she discussed personally what is found in the following link at length with my uncle who inturn related it to me. In a follow-up, many years after she and my uncle met I made it a point to introduce myself and discuss personally as well what she had come to be infamous for, mainly a highly controversial lost ship in the desert. Please see:
VIKINGS OF THE DESERT SOUTHWEST