Updated: Aug 22, 2022
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I was going to write a blog reviewing Trinity: The Best Kept Secret by Jacques Vallee and Paola Leopizzi Harris but interesting synchronicities kept presenting themselves. What follows is a collection of reflections, occasional wandering tangents and some questions.
Trinity is, on the face of it, a loosely gathered, but subtly organized, collection of interviews and post-event field observations detailing the reported crash and encounter with an object of unknown origin and its apparent crew by two boys, Reme Baca and Jose Padilla on the remote ranch of San Antonito in San Antonio, New Mexico on August 16, 1945.
According to their accounts, Reme Baca and Jose Padilla (ages 7 and 9 respectively at the time) were out counting cattle when they “saw a brilliant light, accompanied by a crunching sound.” They searched out the source of the mysterious bright clatter and encountered evidence of a crashed light colored “avocado-shaped” craft, embedded in a deep impact gouge and surrounded by wreckage and debris.
According to their testimony, they also saw evidence that the object had hit a water tower on its descent (their memories diverge on how much they saw of this) and they observed apparent occupants, described by both witnesses as being “insectoid—almost like praying mantises,” associated with the object. The beings were moving (gliding) around the object purposefully and seemed to be uttering cries of distress.
In fact, for both boys, these cries of distress were more emotionally impactful than the sight of the object and occupants themselves and even recounting those sounds years later affected both witnesses very profoundly. They both reported that the sounds “put pictures in their minds” about the anguished circumstances of the occupants.
What distinguishes this report from other so-called UFO crash accounts, at least according to Vallee, are three main factors. The first is the veracity of the witnesses, both of whom went on to lead normal lives and didn’t initially tell anyone, other than immediate family members of their experiences (they and family members returned to the site a couple of times, before and in between a sloppy clean up job by a military unit).
They particularly avoided the authorities; “We were taught just to stay quiet about things that might draw attention,” Jose later explained.
The second factor was a third independent witness, a first cousin, who was able to corroborate basic aspects of the boys’ accounts. And the third factor is the possible physical evidence that was clandestinely taken by the boys themselves on subsequent visits to the site—even after the military sent a squad to clean up the mess (more about this in a separate blog).
Moreover, this account, if true, represents a UFO crash report almost two full years prior to the alleged Roswell incident and the Kenneth Arnold/Maury Island reports in 1947. And it happened a month and two days after the United States tested the first atomic weapon at Trinity site about 25 miles from the Padilla ranch and only about 15 miles further from the famous Zamora case site at Socorro in 1964.
Contrary to what some nay-sayers have opined about the book, I found Vallee’s approach to the case fascinating and some of his questions about the witnesses and similar reports around the world equally intriguing. This despite the reputation of Paola Leopizzi Harris, who, in this book, is simply transcribing and reporting on the various witness interviews she had gathered. It’s actually Vallee who is doing the speculating and analysis.
If Vallee was only writing about this one case, which we could call the Baca-Padilla case for ease of reference, one might wonder if he’d gone a little off the edge, but he isn’t. For Vallee, the Baca-Padilla UFO crash account is something other than just another ET expedition with possible physical evidence.
Rather, it’s a meditation on the personal and social effects of traumatic events—whether by our own hands (in the form of nuclear power unleashed) or at the agency of some kind of intelligent force that seems to live here with us on Earth.
It's also about the personal effects of secrets kept, what the keeping of secrets does to memory and subsequently, narrative and eventually social history.
For a weird reason known only to my internal psyche, at the same time I was reading Trinity, I also began reading a book about the Pueblo* Revolt of 1680, specifically the text, The Pueblo Revolt, written by David Roberts, which is the only deeply thoughtful book I’ve found about these events which are unknown to most Americans.
For those for whom this is news, the Pueblo Revolt was a relatively simultaneous uprising of all the major and minor Pueblo communities somewhere between August 9 and 12th, 1680. According to what records exist, this uprising was conceived of and largely coordinated by a Pueblo medicine man known to history only as Pope’.
It’s not entirely clear what Pueblo nation Pope’ was from: Spanish records only indicate what captured runners spreading the news about the revolt told them (and their information might not have been entirely accurate—indeed they may not have known themselves). The communities that were involved in the planning of the Revolt have remained tight-lipped on the matter to this day.
The word of revolt was spread by runners who carried knotted ropes with them, each knot indicating how many days were left before the revolt was to begin. Depending on how far the runners traveled, they indicated to the contacted village how many knots were to be untied before the day of scheduled revolt. Hundreds of miles were traversed and we have no idea how many runners were involved.
That the runners were able to communicate this information across 4 language families and perhaps almost 2 dozen languages and dialects is remarkable enough-but somehow the message got through. Beginning on August 9 and continuing for several days in waves, every Pueblo rose up against their Spanish colonizing overlords, killing priests, destroying churches. The Revolt killed or drove out every Spanish man, woman or child that didn’t flee first.
The Spanish colonists were utterly defeated and slunk back to Mexico. The Pueblo peoples were left completely free to follow their own religions and cultures for another 12 years.
There is no other set of Indigenous nations in North America that accomplished this in quite the same fashion, at least that we know of. Only the Indian Delhi Revolt against the British in 1857 is comparable in terms of organization and stealth.
Yet, 12 years later, the Spanish returned and were able to retake everything without collective opposition and Roberts’ stated purpose for his book is to find out why. But he is ultimately unsuccessful in this quest—largely because leadership councils of the various remaining Pueblo communities (there are about 20 left out of almost an original 200 at time of contact), refuse to say much or anything about the Pueblo Revolt at all.
After years of Western ethnographers, anthropologists and many unscrupulous amateurs mining their stories, ruins and graveyards for “facts,” Pueblo tribal councils have decided that outsiders cannot be trusted and so maintain silence on these matters.
Only a few western trained tribal members deigned to speak to Roberts at all: “What would we gain by this sharing?” is the question asked by elders. Fair enough. Roberts reports what he can find—including from some previously unexamined Spanish records, respecting, though not always comfortably, Indigenous assertions of dignity in not unearthing the dead (figuratively, not literally).
Roberts’ book also becomes a meditation on silence, the keeping of secrets for the purposes of meaning and privacy and to not relive painful traumatic events.
I found both books disquieting, not least because there are a number of internal synchronicities that oddly link both accounts, confluences of populations, regions and time-frames that caused me to wonder deeply about unseen connections through history, peoples, and narratives.
Vallee notes synchronicities between the Baca-Padilla report and the UFO/occupant report of Lonnie Zamora in Socorro, a little over 20 years later, but only about 15/20 miles more distant from the Trinity site. It’s not that the accounts are identical, but rather the reliability of the witnesses and the manner in which those witnesses were sort of “hushed up” largely, it now seems in retrospect, at least partly due to their ethnicities, despite the presence of possible physical evidence in each case that might be examined.
Vallee compares elements of both these accounts to the well-researched and regarded craft/entity report in Valensole, France and notes some startling similarities, even though the various witnesses were completely unaware of each other or their similarly reported experiences. Vallee notes that the Valensole account received attention and accolades (even an official investigation from the French government) whereas the Baca-Padilla and Zamora cases initially did not.
Vallee also reveals and reflects on this curious confluence of peoples/events: the Padilla ranch in San Antonito, where the Baca-Padilla encounter occurred was once a watering, gathering and ceremonial area for Apache bands who regularly migrated through the region, ancestors perhaps of Reme and Jose themselves.
What most struck me, however, were the following details/synchronicities in time and story:
The San Antonio/Antonito sightings took place not just after the first atomic blast, but after versions of that weapon were dropped on two cities, in fact almost exactly a week after Nagasaki.
Both the Baca-Padilla and Socorro encounters took place less than 40 miles (depending on how the crow flies) from the Trinity site; the Baca-Padilla incident was only 25 miles from Ground Zero, indeed the light from the blast awoke the entire Padilla household (and their neighbors) and that light blinded a relative in one eye.
The entire White Sands testing area, which spans a huge section of New Mexico, is surrounded on three sides by various Indigenous communities/reservations and pueblos, none of whom were informed that this test was going to take place.
(For reference: San Antonio, NM is almost halfway between White Sands and the Pueblo reservations in the north. The Muscalero Apache reservation is due east of White Sands).
While it is true that many of these communities are literally hundreds of miles from Ground Zero, it is also true that the fallout from the blast traveled hundreds of miles and sometimes in unpredicted plumes due to the penetration of the blast materials into the upper atmosphere—of course, no one was told, not even Anglo ranchers or town dwellers in the affected areas.
Furthermore, in terms of synchronicities, the advent of the Pueblo Revolt and the bombing of Nagasaki occurred 265 years apart, almost to the day. Approximately 7-10 days after the Pueblo Revolt began, after the remaining Spanish colonists were driven to Mexico, the fragile coalition of Pueblos began to fall apart.
There were many community rivalries and they had all participated in a very unpleasant, if necessary, task, so the various medicine men and elders began to retreat to their communities. There was no real impetus to continue with a larger confederation for a variety of cultural and religious reasons that might seem obscure to an Anglo, but were very real for the Indigenous peoples involved.
About 7/8 days after Nagasaki was bombed, two little boys, of mixed Spanish/Indigenous descent, in the southern reaches of what had been a Revolt area some centuries earlier, and a watering hole for Apache ancestors, witnessed a curious craft crash on their family ranch and were both entranced and terrified by the cries of despair, anguish and confusion that emanated from the odd insectoid entities they saw around the craft.
According to David Roberts (The Pueblo Revolt), one of the great mysteries of Pueblo cultures is trying to determine “when” the kachinas arrived. It is known and attested, however obliquely, in some Pueblo origin stories, that the kachinas came sometime after their cultures were established.
As a result, many Western historians have assumed that the kachinas perhaps “came” up from Mexico or Central America in one of the waves of agricultural colonialism that is known to have occurred from time to time in Pre-Columbian periods.
This western narrative, however, is disputed by every Pueblo group. It is generally said that the kachinas came independently, and each cultural group has their story of how this contact occurred. Most kachinas, according to the Hopi, emerged from the same underworld location as the Hopi themselves; other Pueblo traditions say that at least some of the kachinas are said to have come from the sky.
Navajo and Apache origin stories also provide some startling synchronicities to aspects of the Baca-Padilla account, particularly pertinent since members of the extended Padilla family were Apache.
According to the White Mountain and Muscalero Apache (the nation whose present reservation is due east of White Sands), White Painted Woman, the being who gave birth to the Apache people, floated and came to earth (and still descends during various ceremonies), in a white “shell.”
According to the Navajo, the Insect people were among the first beings to emerge into this Fourth World, which is our present domain. The “gods” of creation explained to the Insect people that they wanted humans to become dominant because Insect people tend to get out of hand (they’d been booted out of previous worlds), so were bidden to reproduce with humans until they came to resemble the humans we know today.
There is something very dreamlike about both the stories of the Revolt and the account of the strange craft on the Padilla ranch. Silence, secrecy and how both are used to maintain the integrity and dignity of family life, of a people, a livelihood, is an integral part of both stories.
One interesting set of questions that Vallee asks in Trinity are “What if the crash of the object at San Antonito was not an accident?’ What if the crash and the distressed creatures from the craft were the message? What would that message be?” And my question is: “What could possibly be distressing Insectoid like creatures who had seemingly crashed to earth not long after a matter altering bomb was exploded, then used on two cities, close to both the location and the anniversary of one of the most successful, if bloody, revolts against a colonial invader in Indigenous/North American history?”
*BTW-the term Pueblo (“village”) is a Spanish term that colonists used to designate any/all of the Indigenous peoples who lived in adobe/stone settlements/villages/cities throughout the “New Mexico” region. Consequently, most Americans think that all Pueblo peoples are the same. In fact, there was, and is, great diversity of religion, culture and language among the peoples who live in these villages–they just share a common environment and that shapes the kinds of dwellings they build. Generally, each group will refer to itself by the Pueblo they live in, or the culture they inhabit (if there’s more than one Pueblo), such as Hopi, Tewa, Zuni, etc. When speaking about the Pueblo Revolt generally, the term Pueblo is collectively used.