Nick Redfern: Prehistoric Hopi Ant People May Have Crashed Dirigible in Roswell in 1947
The Ant People are back again! Several year ago ancient astronaut theorists hit upon the idea that the Ant People of Hopi mythology are space aliens, and recently this has extended to making them a part of the Roswell flying saucer mythology. This week Nick Redfern opines on the Ant People over at Mysterious Universe, though it’s clear from his discussion of them that he knows of the creatures primarily from ufological sources rather than anthropological ones.
In ethnographic literature and in Hopi accounts, the Ant People are survivors of the first few creations of the world, living underground. When the first world was being destroyed by the creator god Sotkunang, some humans who were to be spared the disaster moved in with the ant people. According to the Hopi Song of Creation, as recorded in Robert Boissiere’s Meditations with the Hopi (1986), “The remnants of the first people moved in with the ant people to be safe when Sotkunang destroyed Tokpela, the first world, with fire.” The first people consumed most of the ant people’s food. Their starvation led the ants to have small waists, which is why ants have such a narrow belt between their thorax and abdomen. (This is not the only version of the story; another Hopi legend recorded in the 1905 Traditions of the Hopi tells that the ant people have small waists because of the floggings they took when initiated into the kachina cult. A separate Hopi creation story from the same volume contains no mention of ants at all, nor does a version written by a Hopi in 1936.) The ants provided refuge for humans again at the destruction of the second world, and in some versions of the story taught humans to build houses similar to ant hills out of rock and clay. The fullest, albeit probably the least reliable, version of the ant people story occurs in Frank Waters’s Book of the Hopi. In these stories, though, the ant people are sentient but are apparently just ants. Waters’s version explicitly states that the ant people are to “take [their] place as ants” at the creation of each new world. They live in hills made of sand and have tunnels underground. In other words, they are ants.
But in fringe world, the ants become Ant People with more of a science fiction flair. Here’s how Nick Redfern describes them this week:
It’s important to note that they weren’t called the Ant People just because they lived underground, in extensive, deep, winding tunnels. No. It was also because despite being humanoid, they somewhat physically resembled ants and particularly so in terms of their faces and their spindly limbs. Of course, one doesn’t have to be a genius to know that some of the so-called “Grays” of alien abduction lore superficially look insect-like. You have probably already surmised where I am going with all this.
Yes, and I have also surmised where you have been: Anywhere other than the primary sources, where the actual Hopi told us that these were ants, not monsters that looked bug-like. So how did ants and Grey aliens become conflated?
A good guess is that ufologists aren’t very keen on “facts” and “details.” I found an example of the conflation going back to 1993 when Tom Dongo, in the UFO book The Quest: In Pursuit of the Ultimate Mastery, misrepresented the events of the Song of Creation. In the song, Sotkunang, the god of creation, tells the ants to take in the humans while he destroys the earth. But in Dongo’s version, the ants aren’t simply mythic representations of animals like Coyote and other Hopi characters who act at the god’s request. Instead, they have now become “godlike beings who live underground and who will return at some point in the future and take the Hopis with them at a time of dramatic Earth change.” Dongo then identifies the Ant People as “the Greys” and claims that they have fiery ships, something not found in ethnography. There is no indication in the primary sources that ants or ant people were considered “godlike” in Hopi myth. Dongo’s book was the earliest example I could find, but I imagine there must be others.
How did the Ant People become science fiction residents of the hollow earth rather than, as the Song of Creation explicitly states, actual ants who live in an ant hill and work industriously to gather and store food? I think the answer has to be related to science fiction, perhaps stemming from stories like Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924), though in that story the ant people were small (but “perfect”) white men, or Ingersoll Lockwood’s ant people from the nineteenth century Baron Trump series. Whatever the source, it seems that science fiction concepts about the hollow earth and its marvelous inhabitants have crossed over into fringe beliefs about Hopi mythology. Nothing in any books of Hopi mythology that I can find supports the claims of “godlike” Ant People or any resemblance to the supposed powers and interests of Grey aliens. The “Ant People” discussed in fringe sources much more closely resemble the high-tech underground race of the Deros in the 1940s Shaver Mystery, the still earlier hollow earth stories of Victorian scientific romances, than the ants of Hopi myth.
This connection becomes clearer when we see Redfern declare that “possibly” the Roswell flying saucer was in fact a dirigible flown by a lost race that lives in the hollow earth—shades of the 1960s-era theory that UFOs were subterranean rather than extraterrestrial, as in Walter Siegmeister’s classic volume (written under the name Raymond Bernard) The Hollow Earth (1964), which popularized for English-language readers the subterranean UFO claims of Theosophist Henrique José de Souza. Redfern, though, attributes his knowledge of the concept to the late Mac Tonnies, who adapted claims from the Shaver Mystery as Cryptoterrestrials in a posthumous 2010 book. Redfern identifies the crypto-terrestrials with the Ant People, apparently unaware of (or purposely obscuring) the relationship of both to the Shaver Mystery and other Hollow Earth theories and fictions.
Redfern concludes by noting that the alleged alien images on the soon to be released Roswell Slides—which he had declared only weeks ago he would never discuss again because he thought them misrepresented!—may depict Ant People since the object seen in the supposed “alien” slide “does look somewhat antlike.” How quickly Redfern reverses course! In March he said that because “I have no interest in the study of ancient mummies, I now wash my hands of the Roswell slides.” But since his audience won’t accept no for an answer,* he’s found a way to backtrack completely on both counts, covering the slides again and deciding he’s now interested in ancient mummies, as long as they might be Ant People. If only he took half as much interest in the quality of the sources he uses to create his revolving wheel of recycled Fortean nonsense.
* In the comments below, Redfern explains that he changed his view for factual reasons, which he laid out in a post on his personal blog. I should not have implied that Redfern adjusts his views for an audience when, according to him, it is because he accepts the authority of various UFO "experts."
4/22/2015 07:04:45 am
In regards to the paragraph pointing out the idea's origin possibly stemming from a Tarzan story, keep in mind your own research into the relationship between fringe research and popular culture. I mean Redfern DID claim that The Descent could help us understand Bigfoot.
4/22/2015 10:36:51 am
Now, The Descent can help us understand the Ant People, too!
4/22/2015 05:33:32 pm
Well, duh, obviously the Ant People ARE Bigfoot. Isn't that what you were supposed to get out of The Descent?
4/22/2015 08:04:31 am
"When the first world was being destroyed by the creator god Sotkunang, some humans who were to be spared the disaster moved in with the ant people."
4/22/2015 09:00:39 am
I've always found it interesting that we humans tend to imagine aliens with insect-like characteristics. I imagine that this is connected with the way that insects often make people uncomfortable. In a way, they've familiar creatures that are already "alien" to us, so it's a short step to viewing extraterrestrial aliens as insect-like.
4/22/2015 10:17:28 am
Nick Redfern...thank you, now I understand the symbolism of the Eugene O'Neill play "The Antman Cometh".
4/22/2015 10:35:40 am
Be prepared. Buy a huge stock of Raid. The Antman fucking cometh. :)
4/22/2015 11:14:19 am
Ant like, bee like and cat like aliens are often depicted in the early fantasy writings of humans and probably are not space alien visitors. Due to the laws of conservation and size though, an insectoid could not really grow to human size, unless it was some kind of hybrid. A cat hybrid would be easier to 'make' as cats can grow quite large. It's just not as interesting with cats, so bugs are cooler, and they do their own thing. It's a cliche of science fiction to include a bug monster.
4/22/2015 05:50:14 pm
To be pedantic, "insectoid" only means "looks like a bug," not "is a bug." It is entirely possible for a creature resembling an insect to exist without breaking the laws of physics and without being a hybrid. Having lungs instead of breathing through its skin would not make it less insectoid anymore than being warm-blooded would make, say, a dragon less reptiloid.
4/22/2015 12:29:18 pm
Christopher O'Brien, who is friends with Redfern and the GenX Keel-fixated UFO online clique (Redfern, O'Brien, Tonnies before he passed away, Greg Bishop, Paul Kimball on and off, I'm probably forgetting one or two of them), discusses the idea of the Ant People as Grays in Enter the Valley, his second book (1999) on his folklore collection/UFO research in the San Luis Valley in Colorado. That was the first time I had heard the idea as I don't go hang out in the power vortices of the SW New Age community.
4/23/2015 09:03:46 am
"Online clique"??? WTF? I met Mac T exactly once in my life (a conference weekend in Canada 9 years ago), and spoke to him on the phone maybe a dozen times. I haven't seen Paul for probably 6 years, and we email maybe a few times a year. Greg I see about twice a year, and we chat on the phone every couple of months. If that's a clique (online or even off), I'm the pope.
terry the censor
4/27/2015 08:29:09 pm
> If that's a clique (online or even off), I'm the pope.
4/22/2015 12:51:13 pm
I don't know, what was their waist size? In fact we can use waist size as indication of genetic ties to either Grey aliens or Ant people. The pants section in the men's wear department could be as far as we need to go to confirm an alien presence among us. All that time spent on Roswell and Area 51, and the answer was at Sears. Damn.
4/22/2015 05:51:55 pm
So at last we discover the real reason for the severely self-esteem damaging trend of model photoshopping? It's all to make us overlook the Grays amongst us?
4/22/2015 12:52:40 pm
"This connection becomes clearer when we see Redfern declare that “possibly” the Roswell flying saucer was in fact a dirigible flown by a lost race that lives in the hollow earth..."
4/22/2015 12:54:18 pm
I never thought about it before but there is a lot of ant sci-fi. H. G. Wells immediately came to mind because of the "The First Men in the Moon" and "The Empire of the Ants". And there is one of my favorite movies, Them!.
4/22/2015 03:07:58 pm
Don't forget "Phase IV" or SyFy's "The Hive".
4/22/2015 08:38:22 pm
Has anyone watched the new series /True Supernatural/? I saw the most recent episode last night. Each episode is composed of two segments, each one dealing with a separate topic. Last night, the chupucabra and the kraken took center stage.
4/23/2015 03:09:23 am
I think you are saying this in your post, but just to be clear, no one else believes McMenamin on this. This is due to the evidence, but it doesn't help that he also has a history with paradolia and pseudoarchaeology, or that he's apparently a creationist.
4/23/2015 04:12:56 am
And unsurprisingly, this isn't McMenamin's first appearance on Jason's blog
4/23/2015 08:43:07 am
What the hell do you mean "his audience won’t accept no for an answer"??? Check out the number of comments I get at my own blog or at Mysterious Universe. It's small - maybe half a dozen comments here and there, maybe a dozen at most. I changed my mind on writing about the slides, because I chose to. Nothing to do with "his audience." I'm hardly bombarded by comments (as you would have seen had you even bothered to check) demanding that I keep on writing about the slides. I do what I do because I want to do it. Period. I'm sure I'll more to say after May 5 when the slides are revealed. Of course I know of the Shaver mystery and no, I wasn't deliberately obscuring anything. This is an article, not a chapter or several in a book. If I start bringing Shaver etc into it, it would be ridiculously long. I chose to focus on the matter in hand: Roswell, rather than wander all over the place.
4/23/2015 09:24:52 am
It seems you, like your fringe colleagues, have yet to learn that "the better part of Valour, is Discretion," Nick. Such language! I've never seen a fringe writer argue that he is too unpopular to be responding to audience pressure, so that is certainly a first. Thank you for that. I will duly note it.
4/23/2015 09:53:20 am
I'm not saying I'm too unpopular to respond.
4/23/2015 10:15:00 am
For someone who pleads that we should always have an open mind, you're certainly one of the most aggressively unpleasant fringe writers I've dealt with. Does the siege mentality come with pumping out articles based on secondhand sources and rhetorical questions? Perhaps this is something like the emperor's new clothes?
4/23/2015 08:48:05 am
And so what if I change my mind on something? Big deal. Actually, no it's not. I'll change my mind as much as I want to and when I want to, if I feel new data surfaces that makes that change warranted. Being cast in stone with one approach/stance when we're dealing with an unidentified phenomenon is fucking ridiculous.
4/23/2015 09:27:15 am
The problem isn't that you changed your mind: I've done it many times! The problem is that you did it without bothering to acknowledge that you've done so, but since you've told us that you are "just" writing articles and not something important, I imagine we aren't supposed to take that as serious either. You don't see how it might read strangely to your readers to see you say you wash your hands of a topic only to return to it shortly after as though you have never made your previous statements, all with no acknowledgement of what has made you change your mind?
4/23/2015 02:01:28 pm
You say: "For someone who pleads that we should always have an open mind, you're certainly one of the most aggressively unpleasant fringe writers I've dealt with."
4/23/2015 02:09:41 pm
Do you care whether those legends are correctly represented, or do you just take their word for it? What's the point of raising a "possibility" if it's based on ignorance and misinterpretation?
4/23/2015 02:15:09 pm
Look, the article is a study of the "Ant People" legend from how Ufology (or some of it) has interpreted the issue. Certain portions of Ufology view them as literal humanoid entities that vaguely resemble ants and, as a result, they came to conclusions relative to that view. My intention was to get across the views of Ufology and how they interpreted it, and how it became tied to Roswell - as per Tonnies and the dirigible, Kathy Kasty and William Lovelace etc. And that's all I cared about doing, in case I'm not clear.
4/23/2015 02:28:28 pm
So you see your role as stenographer more than investigator? I'm not trying to bash you for writing an article rather than a dissertation, but I'm just curious why you aren't curious whether the ufologists got the information right. Surely on a subject as important as finding another sentient species it's worth knowing.
4/23/2015 09:48:35 am
I HAVE told my readers.
4/23/2015 10:16:54 am
Thank you for sharing that, Nick, but how would Mysterious Universe readers have known what you posted on a blog that you admitted above that nearly no one reads? I certainly never saw the post, and you can understand why your subsequent article on a completely different website therefore made no sense. It's the kind of thing that it would seem important to tell readers on the same site where you made the original claim.
4/23/2015 01:52:31 pm
Seems to me you are the only one complaining about me not explaining at MU why I changed my decision on commenting on the slides. Maybe it's because its such a minor issue that no-one cares - aside from you. Also, I never said my blog is one that "nearly no one reads." I get plenty of hits, but not many comments. Not many comments does not mean "no one reads." You really need to read carefully what people are saying instead of misinterpreting their words.
4/23/2015 02:13:43 pm
I was goading you, Nick, in the hope of getting you to make some connections I was trying to tease out of you. Sometime as a questioner I play dumb in order to elicit information you might not otherwise provide. In this case, you note that I'm the only person complaining but also that you have no idea what the vast majority of your readership is thinking. Therefore, the lack of complaint by your own admission is evidence of nothing. Keeping the audience in mind is always a good idea since we can't always know their thoughts moment to moment until the first person speaks up. All the same, I'm not sure I quite understand why you wouldn't want to hold yourself to the highest standards in all your work.
terry the censor
5/3/2015 04:58:23 pm
4/23/2015 02:20:52 pm
No, I don't have any idea of what the vast majority of my readership is thinking. But, here's the important thing: if they feel strongly about something, they let me know. I can assure you of that from the occasional length comment-debate that does occur. That they aren't making their feelings known publicly on my back-pedal on the slides suggests they don't care enough to ask why. And that's fine with me; I'm not going to demand everyone tells me what they think! That would be ridiculous! As for higher standards, again, the article was not a study of the entire Hopi legends etc, it included what Ufology thought of the Ant People legend and how they had become tied to the Roswell story - and that was all. As for goading me, and trying to tease info out of me, why not just be up-front and say what you think or mean?
4/23/2015 02:38:41 pm
I shall then be entirely clear. Please keep in mind that I am in no way intending to attack you as a person, but you asked for my honest view. You wrote an article that accepted bad information at face value, showed no interest in the actual facts, and presented it to your readers as though it was information they needed to know. I can't fathom why you don't care about the truth behind the claims you discuss, or why you feel your audience doesn't deserve your very best work, or, worse, that this is your best work. The excuse that this is "just" an article seems to devalue the audience and suggest that they don't deserve better, or that you and they have together decided they don't matter. I know that's not true. I get emails every day from panicked viewers of Ancient Aliens or readers of material like yours who take it deadly seriously.
terry the censor
5/3/2015 05:08:00 pm
> Why is it that fringe figures ... lose interest when it comes to backing up their assertions, speculations, and claims?
4/23/2015 02:34:57 pm
The point was to demonstrate what certain portions of Ufology thought/think. This was simply a small article, not a multi-thousand word paper dissecting every aspect of the controversy . Of course I care about the truth. This article was intended to show how certain ufologists reached their conclusions on their interpretations and how they became part of the "underground"/cryptoterrestrial theory for the UFO phenomenon. That's all.
4/23/2015 02:41:17 pm
You're talking to a man who spent three months researching a single footnote for one of my books. Doing a few seconds of research to find out whether ufologists' conclusions were based on anything more than hot air seems like basic journalism, especially if your purpose was to "show how [they] reached their conclusions."
4/24/2015 01:31:32 am
"You're talking to a man who spent three months researching a single footnote for one of my books."
4/24/2015 04:01:35 am
Are you suggesting you wouldn't track down the facts? Or that we should revise all of science and history based on rhetorical questions and half-baked recycling of secondary material?
4/24/2015 01:30:23 am
I do care about the facts. The point is - again - the article was about how the Ant People issue had been incorporated into Ufology in general and into Roswell and the cryptoterrestrial theory in particular. I can do that without having to spend endless time debating all the other parts. Given that the MU articles have a word-limit, I try and present as much data that I feel is relevant and valuable to tell the story in the space I have available. I would never deliberately devalue my audience, I have great respect for my audience. You'll note that in the article I specifically linked to other articles where people COULD learn more about the Hopi legends and from their perspective
4/24/2015 03:58:53 am
We will need to agree to disagree, then, on whether ufology's misinterpretations and made up facts about the Ant People are a relevant part of the story of how they incorporate the Ant People. The link you provided to a Native source, incidentally, contradicts the claims of godlike Ant People and confirms that they are... ants. I thank you for taking the time to explain your reasoning, even if I disagree with your assessment of what is and isn't important.
4/24/2015 04:59:49 am
Yes, we should track down the facts. And yes, I linked to an article that showed them just to be ants. As I said, the article is based on the data that elements of the UFO community believed re the ant people. But the other side is the story of them just being ants - which is why, as you note, I linked to an article that talked about them being just ants. I could have easily linked to an article that promoted the UFO theories on the ant people, but I deliberately chose to link to an article that provided a very different scenario - because it's important for people to see both sides.
4/24/2015 05:25:54 am
I don't think you really understand the problem, Nick. You're using false equivalency and declaring that the facts and the lies are two "sides" of an issue. This isn't a debate that has two equal points of view but rather a question of whether there are facts that support the ufological assertion. Linking to an article that "promoted the UFO theories" wouldn't provide facts; it would only repeat interpretations that are not supported by the literature. It isn't a matter of "sides" but rather whether anything the ufologists are saying can be supported with actual documentation. To put it another way, if "elements" of the cryptozoology community told you that the kraken was really a unicorn that shot rainbows out his ass, would you say that was an equally valid interpretation of Norse mythology? Or would you try checking to see whether there was anything to support it? In short, is what matters to you only what people believe and not whether they have valid reasons to believe it?
4/24/2015 05:33:23 am
But, I DO think it's two sides of the issue, so that's where we will continue to differ.
4/24/2015 06:41:49 am
You're right, Nick. We will differ there unless someone can explain how the Ant People differ from any other Hopi mythic animal figures, like Coyote, Spider Grandmother, etc., or show any Hopi legends that actually depict the Ant People in the form ufologists attribute to them.
4/24/2015 06:52:38 am
4/26/2015 08:11:41 am
I love this blog. It reminds me of the good old days of the usenet newsgroups, particularly alt.fan.art-bell, from 15 years ago. Keep up the good work Jason.
4/26/2015 11:41:26 am
It wasn't really the Ant People. It was... oh, God!
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