Earth Notes - Frank Waters

Flagstaff, AZ – Earth Notes: Frank Waters

Frank Waters held a lifelong interest in the Southwest. Raised in Colorado, he wrote books that conveyed deep respect for life in a fragile environment. This is from People of the Valley, published in 1941:

A magpie chattered in the pine, a hawk hung suspended overhead. The stream rippled noisily in the silence. It was all one song, a song heard by none but sung by all.

Born in 1902 of part-Cheyenne heritage, Waters spent much of his life in Taos, New Mexico. He wrote often about Native Americans, describing cultures in which people and place are inseparable. In The Man Who Killed the Deer, Waters described a true incident in which a Taos man's arrest for illegal hunting led to restoration of a sacred lake.

As my body blends into my tribe, my pueblo, the Taos man says in this novel, so this greater form blends into the world without the earth, the skies, moon, stars, and the spirits of all. I have faith in my body. I have faith also in the form of life that is my greater body.

But Waters may have derived his greatest inspiration from the Hopi, with whom he lived for several years. His Book of the Hopi appeared in 1940. They reassert a rhythm of life we have disastrously tried to ignore, Waters concluded. They remind us we must attune ourselves to the need for inner change if we are to avert a cataclysmic rupture between our own hearts and minds.

-Richard Mahler