The April 1909 Arizona Gazette article made a number of assertions. The major assertions are as follows:
- In 1909 an explorer named G. E. Kinkaid, the first white person born in Idaho, made a rafting trip down the Colorado River. He spotted stains on rock wall in the Grand Canyon and climbed up to a rock shelf, discovering a cave on government land.
- Kinkaid worked for the Smithsonian for thirty years.
- Kinkaid entered the cave and found an underground citadel full of “Oriental” artifacts with room for 50,000 inhabitants, who were of ancient Asian origin.
- Prof. S. A. Jordan of the Smithsonian directed excavations “several months” after Kinkaid found the cave, discovering a larger underground complex nearly a mile below the surface.
Little believes that the story is true for a number of reasons, which I will annotate with reasons why he is wrong:
- An ichthyologist and eugenicist named David Starr Jordan “was associated with” the Smithsonian for thirty years. Therefore Little believes “S. A. Jordan” was real. David Starr Jordan did not work for the Smithsonian and was in fact the founding president of Stanford University, the position he held in 1909—when he was pointedly not excavating Egyptians in Arizona. His papers and news accounts show he was at Stanford in 1908 and 1909, and in February of 1909—when he was supposedly excavating mummies—he was actually giving a speech at the Unitarian Club of San Francisco in honor of Charles Darwin. (Jordan, in fact, wrote a piece in 1906 expressing his wonder at the ancient astronaut theory, which he wrongly believed to be an ancient Hindu doctrine.)
- David Starr Jordan journeyed down the Colorado River in 1896, so therefore Little believes the newspaper is correct that G. E. Kinkaid did so in 1909. This makes no logical sense.
- Because David Starr Jordan, signing his name as Prof. Jordan, wrote reports for the Smithsonian, the Smithsonian is lying when it claims it has no records of S. A. Jordan in its Dept. of Anthropology. David Starr Jordan wrote about fossils and fish and was not associated with the Dept. of Anthropology. His name, of course, is not S. A. Jordan. More than one person named Jordan has worked for the Smithsonian over the years, but none with the initials S. A. in the anthropology department. Here the argument is essentially: You say Sherlock Holmes never existed but Oliver Wendell Holmes did so they are obviously the same man!
- David Starr Jordan worked with a zoologist from Washington State named Trevor Kincaid; therefore, G. E. Kinkaid must be this man. However, Kincaid (with a “c”) was not the first white child born in Idaho and not an employee of the Smithsonian. In 1908-1909 Kincaid was on a U.S. government mission to Russia and Japan and did not return to the United States until after the Gazette article was published.
- In 1990, a series of underground catacombs were found by John Hohmann near Springerville, Arizona, more than 100 miles from the Grand Canyon, which might be the actual site of the Grand Canyon civilization from the 1909 article, as proposed by David Childress in his Lost Cities and Ancient Mysteries of the Southwest. These catacombs covered several acres and included many rooms with Mogollon burials, though later exploration determined that most of the cave system was natural rather than artificial, according to brief references in later accounts. Hohmann rappelled down to the entrance, which Little says Kinkaid did, too, though this isn’t in the article.
So, Little concludes that we are to see the Arizona Gazette article as accurate even though it is wrong about the date of the discovery, the location of the discovery, the size of the cave system, the people buried in it, the names of the people who discovered it, and sundry other details. All that is accurate, in this reading, are two surnames and the fact that it took place in Arizona. Is this enough to reclaim the article as fact?
But all of this is a fig leaf covering Little’s real purpose: exorcising his upset that I implicated his friend David Childress, whom he met in the early 2000s, as the key figure in developing the idea of a Smithsonian conspiracy. In my December 31, 2013 article, I wrote that the story of the Smithsonian conspiracy took off after Childress wrote an article about it in the early 1990s, and that I could not find evidence that such a conspiracy was widely believed before then.
Little excuses Childress from culpability by claiming that Childress was merely a copyist of fringe writer Ivan T. Sanderson, one his acknowledged sources, who accused the Smithsonian of “skullduggery” on several occasions in the 1960s and 1970s, most explicitly in one sentence in Pursuit magazine in 1972: “There has been a constant stream of accusations that the Smithsonian ‘buries’ things it doesn’t like…” However, he did not accuse the Smithsonian of being unique in this regard but, as Little himself admits, embedded this in a larger indictment of academia and indeed all museums, as Sanderson wrote in 1967: “One and all have just ‘evaporated’ like this, but, I must admit, very often within the portals of some museum which had acknowledged receipt of the relic.” Little further conflates the specific claim that the Smithsonian is suppressing anomalous artifacts with wider criticism, including some from academics, that the museum’s bureaucracy and reliance on arguments from authority in the twentieth century hindered research.
There is no evidence I can find that Sanderson’s occasional sentences asserting that the Smithsonian purposely lost giant skeletons and Yeti tracks had any effect on the wider fringe world, which did not pick up the Smithsonian conspiracy theme until Childress expanded on Sanderson—whom he cites by name—in his own work. As I noted in my article, Childress gathered together many claims of Smithsonian fraud that were floating around before 1993; obviously I am not hiding the fact that they existed!
So, I guess the bottom line is that Little would like us to exonerate Childress by freeing him from the accusation of having had an original thought. If that’s the case, I’m happy to acknowledge that Childress was simply a copyist, but I don’t think it’s that simple. He took some earlier but obscure claims from fringe writers (Frederick J. Pohl and John H. Tierney included) and wove them into a conspiracy that had heretofore been a few random hints on the fringe of the fringe. As he has done many times, Little confuses the popularization of an idea with its first proposal.