Frank Waters

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Frank Waters
BornJuly 25, 1902
Colorado Springs, Colorado
DiedJune 3, 1995
Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
GenreWestern fiction, history
SubjectAmerican Southwest
Notable worksThe Man Who Killed the Deer
SpouseLois Moseley
Jane Somervell
Barbara Hayes

Frank Waters (July 25, 1902 - June 3, 1995) was an American writer. He is known for his novels and historical works about the American Southwest. The Frank Waters Foundation, founded in his name, strives to foster literary and artistic achievement in the Southwest United States.


Frank Waters was born on July 25, 1902, in Colorado Springs, Colorado to May Ione Dozier Waters and Frank Jonathon Waters. His father, who was part Cheyenne, was a key influence in Water's interest in the Native American experience. Frank Jonathon Waters took his son on trips to the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico in 1911, described by Frank in his book The Colorado. Frank's interest in his Indian roots was partially a reaction to his father's death on December 20, 1914, when young Frank was twelve years old.

Waters continued his education at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. He studied engineering but left school before receiving a degree. Immediately after leaving college, Waters took a job with the Southern California Telephone Company, working in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. He remained employed by the company until 1935 as an engineer and traffic chief. Between 1925 and 1935, Waters worked on his first novel, Fever Pitch (1930) and a series of autobiographical novels beginning with The Wild Earth's Nobility (1935). In 1936, Waters left L.A. and moved back and forth between Colorado and New Mexico, continuing to write and completing a biography of W. S. Stratton, Midas of the Rockies. He became close friends with Mabel Dodge Luhan and her husband from Taos Pueblo, Tony Luhan.

When World War II broke out, Waters moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. There, he performed the duties of a propaganda analyst and chief content officer and, although he was released from the army in 1943, he continued to work for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.[1] Waters' masterpiece, The Man Who Killed the Deer, was published in 1942.

While living in D.C. in 1944, Waters married Lois Moseley, whom he divorced two years later. After his divorce, Waters moved to Taos, New Mexico, where he continued to write. In 1947, Waters purchased property at nearby Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, and married Jane Somervell. He served as editor-in-chief of Taos' bilingual newspaper, El Crepusculo from 1949–1951, and as a reviewer for the Saturday Review of Literature from 1950-1956.

In 1953, Waters was awarded the Taos Artists Award for Notable Achievement in the Art of Writing. Waters also held positions as information consultant for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, New Mexico, and for the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, (1952–1956). He held a variety of other jobs, including writer for C.O. Whitney Motion Picture Co., Los Angeles (1957), writer-in-residence, Colorado State University, Fort Collins (1966); and director, New Mexico Arts Commission, Santa Fe, New Mexico, (1966–68).[2]

On December 23, 1979, Waters married Barbara Hayes. He continued to write and make public appearances. He and his wife lived alternately in Arroyo Seco and Sedona, Arizona. Frank Waters died at his home in Arroyo Seco on June 3, 1995.[2]

From the 1930s on, Waters published numerous novels, articles and works of non-fiction. For instance, in 1975, he wrote Mexico Mystique: The Coming Sixth World of Consciousness. In the book, he makes the case that December 24, 2011, a date he got from Michael Coe's The Maya (1966), will be the closing date of the Mayan Long Count cycle and would initiate a new wave of human consciousness.[3] His earlier Book of the Hopi (1963) is rejected "as largely ersatz by Hopi traditionalists"[4] and specialist scholars "avoid even mentioning it".[5]

Frank Waters Foundation[edit]

The Frank Waters Foundation (FWF), established in 1993, is a nonprofit organization the primary goal of which is to promote the arts, specifically those in the spirit of the creativity of Frank Waters. The members of the FWF operate under the motto "Sheltering the creative spirit", by providing a retreat for artists to live and work among the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.[2] According to the FWF website,

The Frank Waters Foundation's primary purpose is to promote an awareness of Waters' works as well as the arts in general by sponsoring educational workshops, and making available inspirational living space, at the Foundation headquarters in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, in which creative persons can work for limited periods.[2]

The FWF is supported financially by endowments, workshops, lectures, art shows, musical events, fundraisers, grants, and sales of various items including books and bronze sculptures of Frank Waters. His wife Barbara Waters was executive director of the foundation.[2]



Novels written by Waters include:

  • Fever Pitch (1930), reprinted as Lizard Woman
  • The Wild Earth's Nobility (1935)
  • Below Grass Roots (1937)
  • Dust Within the Rock (1940)
  • People of the Valley (1941)
  • The Man Who Killed the Deer (1942)
  • River Lady (1942, w/Houston Branch)
  • The Yogi of Cockroach Court (1947)
  • Diamond Head (1948 w/Houston Branch)
  • The Woman at Otowi Crossing (1965)
  • Pike’s Peak (1972), revision and condensation of The Wild Earth's Nobility, Below Grass Roots, and Dust Within the Rock.
  • Flight from Fiesta (1986)

Other published works[edit]

Other published works, essays, non-fiction, and esoteric writings by Waters include:

  • Midas of the Rockies (1937)
  • The Colorado (1946)
  • Masked Gods: Navajo and Pueblo Ceremonialism (1950)
  • The Earp Brothers of Tombstone: the Story of Mrs. Virgil Earp (1960)
  • Book of The Hopi (1963)
  • Robert Gilruth (1963)
  • Leon Gaspard (1964)
  • Pumpkin Seed Point (1969)
  • To Possess the Land: A Biography of Arthur Rochford Manby (1973)
  • Mexico Mystique: The Coming Sixth World of Consciousness (1975)
  • Mountain Dialogues (1981)
  • Brave Are My People: Indian Heroes Not Forgotten (1993)
  • Of Time and Change: a Memoir (1998)


  1. ^ Inventory of the Frank Waters Papers, 1892-1992 at Rocky Mountain Online Archive.
  2. ^ a b c d e The Frank Waters Foundation
  3. ^ Hoopes, John W. (2011), "New Age Sympathies and Scholarly Complicities: The History and Promotion of 2012 Mythology", Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, 24: 183–205
  4. ^ Paper, Jordan (2006). Native North American Religious Traditions: Dancing for Life. Praeger. p. 38. ISBN 978-0275990978.
  5. ^ Geertz, Armin W. (1983), "Book of the Hopi: The Hopi's Book?", Anthropos, 78 (3/4): 547–556


Further reading[edit]

  • Adams, Charles. "Frank Waters" in Western Literature Association (ed.), Updating the Literary West, pp. 854–862. TCU Press, 1997. ISBN 0-87565-175-5
  • Barclay, Donald A. "Frank (Joseph) Waters." Twentieth-Century American Western Writers: Second Series. Ed. Richard H. Cracroft. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 212. Detroit: Gale, 1999. ISBN 978-0-7876-3106-2. ISSN 1096-8547.
  • Cline, Lynn. Literary Pilgrims: The Santa Fe and Taos Writers' Colonies, 1917-1950, ch. 11. University of New Mexico Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8263-3851-8
  • Deloria, Vine. Frank Waters: Man and Mystic. Swallow Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8040-0979-1
  • Dunaway, David King; Spurgeon, Sara L. Writing the Southwest, pp. 218–232. University of New Mexico Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8263-2337-5
  • Lyon, Thomas J. Frank Waters (Volume 225 of Twayne's United States authors series). Twayne, 1973.
  • Rogers, Gary Wade. Frank Waters: Author of Vision in the American Tradition of Emerson, Melville, and Faulkner. Texas Christian University, 1993.
  • Waters, Barbara. Celebrating the Coyote: A Memoir. Divina, 1999. ISBN 0-9659521-5-0
  • Evers, Larry, ed. "A Conversation with Frank Waters" in Sun Tracks Five (University of Arizona, Tucson), 1980, pp. 61–68.
  • Gustafon, Robert. "A Conversation with Frank Waters on American Indian Religion" in Pembroke Magazine (N.C.), 1974, No. 5, pp. 78–89.
  • Peterson, James. "A Conversation with Frank Waters: Lessons from the Indian Soul" in Psychology Today, 1973, Vol. 6, No. 12, pp. 63–99 passim.
  • Tarbet, Tom. "The Hopi Prophecy and the Chinese Dream: An Interview with Frank Waters" in East West Journal (Brookline, Mass.), 1977, Vol. 7, No. 5, pp. 52–60, 62, 64.
  • Taylor, James. "An Interview with Frank Waters" in Black Bear Review (Taos, NM), 1973, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 1–5.

External links[edit]