December 12, 2009

The Smoki bomber

Days Past:  Prescott's Smoki People and the 1944 bomber built in their name

By Goodie BerquistIn 1921, Prescott's principal tourist attraction was its annual rodeo. In the aftermath of World War I, the Prescott rodeo was flat broke. Despite hard times, community leaders were determined to save it. Their solution was to stage a "Way Out West" show at the fairgrounds as a money-raiser. A variety of cowboy and Indian acts were scheduled, plus an event described simply as "The Smoki Snake Dance."

A group of civic-minded men at the Yavapai Club agreed to contribute their time and talents to the proceedings. They decided to stage their version of the Hopi snake dance using Indian costumes and live bull snakes. Their performance was the hit of the day and thus began the history of the Smoki People.
For decades these Indian wannabes performed and profited from the sacred Hopi Snake Dance. Not until 1990 did they stop their bastardized dances.

Here's the story of the bomber:According to the Evening Courier, on July 7, 1944, Prescott's "E" bond sales were $70,000 short of the $250,000 goal for purchasing a new B-24 bomber for the war effort to be named for the Smoki People. By July 27, three weeks later, the goal was topped! Widespread community support of the Smoki People at that time is beyond question.

The airplane Prescott purchased was a B-24 Liberator emblazoned with "Smoki People, Prescott, AZ" on its side. It was based in New Guinea.
Comment:  Yeah, the people of Prescott supported their tourist-attraction meal ticket. I don't think the Hopi appreciated white folks pretending to be them and doing their dances.

Below:  "This B-24 Liberator is the type of bomber that Prescottonians paid for in July 1944 with 'E' bonds, then sent it into battle in the South Pacific to honor the Smoki People of Prescott. The total cost of the bomber was $250,000 ($3 million in today's dollars!)."

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