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Sunday, January 18, 2009
Aliens? Underground? in Dulce?
By Polly Summar
Journal Staff Writer
It's hard not to wonder how a retired funeral director living in Rio Rancho became involved with investigating tales of an alleged underground alien/U.S. military base in Dulce, a town of some 3,000 people on Jicarilla Apache land.
"Alleged" being, of course, the key word.
"There's no physical evidence there are such places there," acknowledges Norio Hayakawa, 64, who moved to Rio Rancho in 2007 from Torrance, Calif.
But Hayakawa said tales of a joint alien/U.S. joint biological laboratory and base existing a mile under the town's Archuleta Mesa began surfacing in the mid-1980s. And he's planning a conference at Dulce in March — in a motel lounge — that he hopes will get to the bottom of the rumors, which have become long been regular fodder for conspiracy theorists on the Internet, talk radio and elsewhere.
"My speculation is that the government may have staged fake UFO-type sightings and some types of alien-associated incidents," said Hayakawa, "to distract attention away from the reality of what may have happened there."
Hayakawa believes Dulce residents will come forward with information. "The bulk of the people, including officials there, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, believe that something has been going on, but they don't want to talk about it," Hayakawa maintains.
While the Jicarilla Apache tribe has no official position on the rumors of an underground base or Hayakawa's conference, public relations staffer Merlin Cassador said, "I do know he (Hayakawa) put out a public service announcement on a radio station up here regarding The History Channel coming. He has not spoken with us about it directly."
The Journal was unable to reach anyone at The History Channel's New York offices on Friday who could comment on whether the cable channel will have a crew at the Dulce meeting.
Hayakawa said his conference, "Dulce Base: Fact or Fiction," will be held March 29 in the bar and lounge area of the Best Western Jicarilla Apache Inn. The hotel doesn't have a large-enough conference room, he said.
A nominal $5 entrance fee is being charged and no reservations are required. "It's completely open to everyone as a public forum," he said.
The conference could get some spillover from the 2009 UFO Conference, March 27-28, in Aztec — another one of New Mexico's many sites held dear by UFO buffs. There was reported UFO crash in Aztec in March 1948, but even many saucer believers consider that one to be a hoax perpetuated by a couple of con men. Hayakawa is also listed as a speaker at the Aztec event.
In the community of people intrigued by aliens and UFOs, tiny Dulce is well-known. The Internet is rife with "photographs" of the purported subterranean base, complete with escalators and a tube stop for subway rides to other below-the-surface stops.
"There were rumors that there was a deep underground base ... that aliens had made contact and dug into the mesa," said Anthony DellaFlora, former Journal reporter and producer of the 1997 independent film, "High Strange New Mexico," which delves into the state's long history of alien abduction tales, cattle mutilation incidents and UFO sightings.
"Supposedly, all kinds of weird experiments on humans and animals were going on with full knowledge of the government," said DellaFlora. "During the course of my movie, I interviewed people in Dulce who did have stories about seeing the Archuleta Mesa open up, seeing doorways and portals and seeing things flying in and out."
"There's some buzz built around it, for sure," DellaFlora said. " ... but it's on Indian land, so no one's talking."
Hayakawa said he believes there's a well-constructed wall of secrecy.
"I suspect personally that the town has benefited, perhaps, from allowing some kind of nuclear waste dumping near that area," he said. "They could have covered it up under the pretext that there's some kind of alien/military base there. I'm not saying for sure because there's no proof."
New Mexico is not short of skeptics about suggestions there is anything extraordinary under the ground around Dulce.
Dave Thomas, president of the nonprofit New Mexicans for Science and Reason, said, "I've heard about rumors of the alien base, but this is a new one — nuclear storage."
Thomas said his attitude is: "Gosh, there could be aliens, but show me some evidence they've actually been here. I've never heard about the nuclear dumping theory at Dulce.... There's never been any evidence for aliens there or an alleged underground base."
The purpose of the Dulce conference, Hayakawa said, is to find some answers and dispel rumors, "once and for all."
"It's a beautiful place and it's not fair to be associated with this kind of thing," he said. "This is why I want to return some normalcy to that area."
From the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s, Hayakawa said, people in Dulce reported seeing strange lights in the sky and military helicopters. In the mid-80s, the rumors first began to surface about an underground biological laboratory.
"My theory is that they're promoting the alien thing, like Roswell does, to cover up the nuclear thing," said Hayakawa. "That's why we want to have an open forum. We want them to be not afraid to come forth."
In 1967, the government exploded an atomic bomb underground in a mountain about 25 miles south of Dulce, in an effort called Project Gasbuggy that was intended to stimulate gas reservoirs. "That explosion could have created some caverns including possibly under Dulce," Hayakawa said.
But that theory could be another red herring, Hayakawa said. "Maybe there's a nuclear waste dumping area. There are tunnels or vestiges of tunnels on the Archuleta Mesa, initially built as a mining tunnel. But they could easily have placed nuclear waste material in those tunnels and caves."
Hayakwaya added, "Some people think there is a tunnel connection between Dulce and Los Alamos."
James Rickman, a spokesman for Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the idea of an underground passageway between Los Alamos and Dulce comes up from time to time among conspiracy theorists.
"I can say unequivocally, " Rickman said Friday, "that as the guy who has sort of been asked to look into this more than any of my colleagues, I have never run across any indication in terms of engineering drawings, internal folklore, site maps or anything else that would indicate there was any sort of tunnel connection from the lab to Dulce, or elsewhere."
Rickman said another theory he's been asked about is whether the "spacecraft" that fell at Roswell in 1947 was taken to Los Alamos through and then transported via the supposed tunnel to Dulce.
Kevin Roark, another lab spokesman, said simply that he couldn't believe the Journal was "stooping" to reporting on the Dulce underground base theory.
Hayakawa said he became interested in military bases about 20 years ago and then got involved in researching Nevada's Area 51, a nickname for a military base whose primary purpose is to support development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.
"I wrote about it in a Japanese magazine," said Hayakawa, who moved to this country in 1965 and became a citizen in 1976. A Japanese television crew came here, he said, in 1988 to accompany him on a story on the same subject. "I became an activist in trying to get the government to admit there is such a facility."
As for Dulce, Hayakawa said, "There's a lot of strange circumstantial evidence that something is there."