Thursday, July 3, 2008



by Ed Conroy

Dulce, New Mexico lies quietly in a valley surrounded by the land of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe, just south of Ute Indian land in north central New Mexico. Because the "situation report" had referred to an "Archuleta Mesa" near Dulce as being the site of one supposed base, we had initially formed an image of Dulce as lying in arid, desert land where the typical "mesa" formations of the Southwest (squarish, flat-topped hills devoid of vegetation) are found. Such a supposition is not unreasonable, as much of the land due west of Dulce is a desert, distinguished by the presence of the hauntingly beautiful Chaco Canyon ruins, the site of remarkable, carved-stone dwellings once used by the now mysteriously disappeared Anasazi people.

In actuality, though, the Dulce area is heavily forested with pine trees which cover handsome hills and ridges. The Archuleta Mesa is one such forested ridge immediately north of the town.

Upon arriving in Dulce, we noticed we were staying across the street from the headquarters of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe. Even the hallways of our motel were decorated with remarkable examples of Native American paintings. It was clear that we were in an Indian town.

Although the "situation report" document had mentioned the supposed bases' location on the lands of the Jicarilla Apache peoples, we were, admittedly, surprised. Nothing we had read about Dulce in any of the papers distributed among UFO researchers had said that Dulce itself is a town where the white man is an alien.

On our first morning in Dulce, we went to the tribal offices and asked to be received by an official of the tribe. We were shown into the office of Barbara Hernandez, the tribal secretary, who received us politely. We identified ourselves as representing The Communion Letter, a copy of which we gave to Mrs. Hernandez. We also stated frankly that we were there to find out what we could about reports of secret alien bases in the area, and what the local response to such reports might be.

Barbara Hernandez said she had first learned about the Dulce underground alien base rumors through reading an article in a national tabloid. She said that the tribe had recently been visited, as well, by UFO investigators who requested permission to dig under an old church on the reservation in hopes of finding some clue as to the question of alien bases. That request had been denied, she said, mention that there was no "old church" on the reservation lands. The Dutch Reformed Church in the town of Dulce is of relatively recent construction, she said.

When given a copy of the December, 1987 "situation report" from Las Vegas, however, she was particularly interested in reading the section on page 9, presumably derived from a conversation between Paul Bennewitz and a man identified only as Jim McCampbell. That section states that Bennewitz determined (in an unspecified manner) the location of the underground facility as "a kilometer underground beneath the Archuleta Mesa on the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation near Dulce, New Mexico. (Since 1976, one of the areas of the US hardest hit by mutilations.)"

Although the "situation report" document had been in circulation since December of 1987, Mrs. Hernandez said to us this was the first time that it had been brought to the attention of a Jicarilla Apache tribal official.

Hernandez also read with interest the passage in that document that states:

"The base is 2 1/2 miles northwest of Dulce, and almost overlooks the town. There is a level highway (sic) 36' wide going (sic) into the area. It is a government road. One can see telemetry trailers and buildings that are five-sided with a dome. Next to the dome, a black limousine (sic) was noted -- a CIA vehicle. These limos will run you off the road if you try to get into the area. To the north there is a launch site. There are two wrecked ships there; they are 36' long with wings, and one can see oxygen and hydrogen tanks. The ships that we got out of the trade are atomic-powered with plutonium pellets. Refueling of the plutonium is accomplished at Los Alamos. The base has been there since 1948."

We made a copy of that document and gave it to Mrs. Hernandez, who said that she would share it with the president of the tribe and other officials.

Mrs. Hernandez was very obliging, too, when we said we wished to look at records in the Jicarilla Chieftan. She called Mary Polanco, editor of the Chieftan, who joined us in her office. Mrs. Polanco also said she had not seen the "situation report" document before, and shared Hernandez's interest in it.

In the course of our discussion with Mrs. Hernandez she said to us that many people had reported strange lights in the skies over the reservation to her and other tribal officials. She added that an elderly tribal member living on the reservation had taken a photograph of a UFO that appeared near his house. She added, regretfully, that she knew he would not show it to outsiders.

However, Mrs. Hernandez did confirm that there had been quite a few cattle mutilations in the Dulce area, noting that these had been indeed investigated by law enforcement officials and reported by the Jicarilla Chieftan. Mary Polanco agreed to show us her files of back issues of the Chieftan, in which we did find a number of stories of anomalous mutilations that occurred in 1978 and 1979.

The descriptions of cattle mutilations in the Chieftan correspond to those compiled by such recognized investigators of the phenomenon as Tom Adams and Linda Howe. For example, we found one article that stated one bull was found with its sex organs removed, with an incision made around its anus and its blood drained. The organs had "apparently been cut with a sharp instrument." That same article stated that "According to reliable sources, many people have viewed mysterious objects in the area at the time the mutilation occurred." (Chieftan, May 8, 1978, "Bull mutilation discovered.")

It was clear from the record that the matter had been of great concern to the community, even resulting in a public hearing. The Chieftan did not sensationalize the reports, although it did publish a photograph of perfectly round (4" diameter) markings found in the mud in the immediate vicinity of a mutilated cow, with the cut line reading "UNUSUAL LANDING GEAR." There were signs, however, of an attempt from an official level to squash public interest in the matter. A front page Chieftan story dated July 30, 1979 related a report made by Ken Rommel, then the state of New Mexico's chief cattle mutilations investigator, that "from the cattle he has seen, he couldn't find anything that cannot be explained"

According to Mary Polanco, though, not everyone in Dulce was of that same opinion. The Chieftan itself reported a comment at a state hearing from New Mexico State Police Officer Gabe Valdez that "It is hard for me to believe predators could pull the heart of a cow out through a small hole in the chest." (Chieftan, May 7, 1979.) Valdez, it might be noted, was named New Mexico Officer of the Year in 1978 by vote of his fellow officers. We learned from Mary Polanco that he had moved to Albuquerque.

Mrs. Hernandez had granted our request to drive onto the reservation, as well as to inspect and photograph as much of it as we desired, so later that day we drove out of town looking for signs of the road and structures which Bennewitz had reportedly mentioned.

In doing so, we explored the only road that leads out of Dulce in the direction of the Archuleta Mesa, as well as the other two roads that lead from Dulce onto reservation land. What we found in going toward the mesa (following directions in the "situation report") was that, once the paved road from the Dulce town ended, we were at all times on unpaved dirt roads of normal width. At no time did we see anywhere in the vicinity of Dulce or Archuleta Mesa anything at all like the description of a 36' wide gravel "government" road, nor did we see any electrical antenna or other structure that could be construed to be a "telemetry trailer." There are, in fact, no gravel roads to be seen in the entire area. The only structures we saw on the reservation near the mesa, aside from bridges, were the ruins of an old water tower for a locomotive train that once traversed reservation lands and a small house, visibly inhabited by an Apache family.

Nor, for that matter, were we chased by black limousines.

Most of the roads that wind up the hills around Dulce are narrow, serpentine, logging roads that would slow down any vehicle intent on chasing anyone. Through using a map of the reservation we obtained in Dulce, we found a road which appeared to ascend the Archuleta Mesa, and began to follow it, hoping to get to the very top of that small mountain. All along our trip up the mesa, we saw not a single sign of a "launch pad" or any indication that the land had been used for any purpose except logging and camping.

Mrs. Hernandez had also put us in touch with a tribal official who agreed to take us on a tour of part of the reservation and speak to us regarding what he knew of unusual happenings in the area. This gentleman asked to remain anonymous. Like Mrs. Hernandez, he had heard of the outside world's interest in Dulce, but had not previously seen the "situation report."

Our guide took us to land his family holds, and up to a promontory where we could see both Archuleta Mesa and Mount Archuleta, the latter also reputed to be a possible site of an alien base. On his family land, he showed us a circular patch of ground approximately 30 feet in diameter which he had said had exhibited a resistance to crop seeds for as long as anyone in his family could remember -- well over 80 years. This area, which lies in the middle of an alfalfa field, is indeed unusual in that only a minimal amount of weeds grew within its border, while other, lusher greens grew about it in the encompassing field.

Our guide was familiar, as well, with the many cattle mutilations that had occurred in the Dulce area, having been involved in their aftermath in an official capacity. He did not accept the idea that they were the work of satanic cults or another relatively prosaic source.

Upon returning to Dulce in his vehicle, our conversation turned toward traditional Native American ideas of the Trickster-Coyote, who plays such a large role in the myths of the Southwestern peoples. Our guide warmed at this turn in the talk, and pointed to a lake we were passing. He directed our attention to a certain bend in the road that clung to one shore of the lake.

That bend, he said, has been the site of a number of car and truck accidents where drivers have run off the road straight into the lake. Where the drivers had survived to tell what happened, he said, they all reported having seen what appeared to be a straight stretch of road at the point where it actually curved.

While that was odd enough, he remarked, he had spoken with elders of the tribe who had told him that people who walked by that curve in the lake in the years when the road was only a trail also reported a similarly strange distortion of their vision, sometimes having fallen into the lake.

Those same elders, he said, absolutely refused to talk about the cattle mutilations, following a strict "mind your own business" policy. Our guide could not help but comment, though, that he found the ideas of some kind of underground activity associated with UFOs and the mutilations to be very intriguing, particularly in the light of the Jicarilla Apache peoples' own creation myth, which states that they emerged from the underworld -- a curious foreshadowing of the modern stories of underground bases and genetic experiments. The Jicarilla myth further states that humanity was not directly created by god, but rather by supernatural beings who live within the earth.

Talking with our guide was a challenging experience. He occasionally tested us with disarming questions and statements, but also seemed to share our interest in exploring the hidden aspects of life around Dulce. It was clear, too, that he was completely at home in his own Native American culture, yet at the same time very conversant with the ways of the mainstream culture. He was willing to consider the possibility that real, alien bases existed somewhere near Dulce, but no sooner would the conversation move in that direction but he would turn it back toward a more Apache point of reference.

We did notice one particular area where his point of view differed significantly from that ascribed to Bennewitz. According to the "situation report," the "base" at Dulce has been in operation "since 1948." To our guide, stories such as that of the mysterious road to the lake and the strange circle in the field were as old as the memory of his people.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that our guide chose to interpret events through only a sort of regional, ethnic screen. He was convinced, for example, that unusual happenings in the area were of great interest to people in the federal government and law enforcement agencies. He told us, in fact, of the landing of a black unmarked helicopter in the town of Dulce which occurred a few years back (he would not specify the year), out of which emerged men in camouflage fatigues carrying M-16 rifles. The men's uniforms bore no insignia of any kind, he said, making it impossible to identify them with any known detachment of the US armed forces. Upon being approached by members of the tribal police driving toward the area in their trucks, the soldiers got into the helicopter and flew away.

Similar stories of landings by black, unmarked helicopters and men in uniforms with no insignia have been recorded in various parts of the country. For example, a similar report was recorded in the Orange County Register of May 10, 1987, which described the landing on a Southern California beach of two black helicopters manned by armed soldiers in unmarked green uniforms who refused to identify themselves.

We could not leave Dulce without reflecting on and discussing what appeared to us to be the irresponsibility evident in much of the obviously inaccurate "reporting" that had been circulated about Dulce without any contact with the Jicarilla Apache Tribe. The "situation report" document states "After Bennewitz briefed Air Force Officials (sic) on what he had found, a trip to the area revealed the following data:" and goes on to describe the 36' wide road, telemetry trailer and other features quote earlier. The "situation report," though, does not explicitly state who took this trip. Judging from our extensive tour of the Dulce area, it is hard to see how the description of the road, trailer, dome and "launch site" could be correct.

Upon re-reading the "situation report" after our Dulce trip, we were also struck by its implicitly racist assumptions. It was evident that, for its author(s), the real, Indian people living in and around Dulce were insignificant. Considering the extraordinary attention given these unverified stories by UFO investigators and publications, it is amazing that they had put so little effort into investigating Dulce. It would also seem that, for some people in the UFO community, the thrill of publishing scary stories -- without a shred of concern for how they may affect witnesses -- is greater than concern for the facts.

What we believe should be underlined in bold strokes, is the manner in which the UFO community has apparently gone about making assumptions about Dulce without even consulting the Native American people who live there. For the author of the "situation report" to have released it to major UFO investigators around the country without sending a copy of tribal officials in Dulce reveals an extraordinary lack of respect for the Jicarilla Apache community.

What we do know about Dulce, drawn from the record of the bizarre and as-yet-unexplained cattle mutilations which occurred in the area, is disturbing information. Yet those mutilations, the strange lights in the sky, unusual marks on the ground and some witness testimony regarding a black helicopter landing do not by necessity point to the presence of a secret alien base in Dulce. They are without doubt strange occurrences, and the story of the black helicopter may well point to some kind of interest in monitoring cattle mutilations by federal authorities. Yet, were one an Apache elder and not disposed to assume an alien-outer-space scenario for the larger pattern of events, they could also be understood as "trickster" phenomena managed by a modern-day (or perhaps very ancient Coyote), not to be taken at their face-value alone. Within the context of a traditional people who have made certain social adaptations to their environment, there may be valuable insights in the lore they have attached to unusual phenomena around them.

There are indeed mysteries in the Dulce area, but who are we to think that we can explore them without the help of the people who know the area best? It may well be that what is required to understand the strange events reported in Dulce is not so much high-technology equipment and sensors, but perhaps something subtler; the ability to think a little less like a white man, and more like an Apache.

Ed Conroy reports on the arts and electronic media for the San Antonio Express News. This article was written in 1990.

How do you explain this then?

El Vado New Mexico, 25 Miles South Of Dulce, NM Lights

Date: June 28, 2008
Time: 5:30 p.m.

Location of Sighting: El Vado New Mexico, 25 miles south of Dulce, NM.
Number of witnesses: 1
Number of objects: ?
Shape of objects: Lights.

Full Description of event/sighting: I took a photo of the lake in front of my house before heading out the door for a drive. I took this photo from inside my living room looking outward. There appears to be 3 bright lights that I thought were campfires. My husband told me that was impossible since no one is allowed to burn in the area and also it is above the lake area into the Jicarrilla Apache mountain side which is impossible since there are no trespassing signs posted everywhere. People have been arrested in the past for walking in these areas. Also there are no roads where these lights appeared. When I looked at my photo on my computer I also notice streaks flying across. All of my lights were off in my house so there was no way it could have been a reflection from inside my house. I checked my camera to see if the lens was dirty which it was not. The speed was set at 1600/auto. It is a Canon G9. I would love to send you the photo to take a look at it and give me your opinion.

Thank you.

Thank you to the witness for their report, and I am requesting the photo.

HBCC UFO Research -


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