(Newlands) Reclamation Project Act of 1939

The Reclamation Act (also known as the Newlands Reclamation Act or National Reclamation Act) of 1902 (P.L. 57-161, as amended) is a United States federal law that funded irrigation projects for the arid lands of 17 states in the American West. Under the act, the Secretary of the Interior created the United States Reclamation Service within the United States Geological Survey to administer the program. In 1907 the Service became a separate organization within the Department of the Interior and was renamed the Bureau of Reclamation.

The Act provided for land-area to be reclaimed from the repository of public lands with the filing of appropriate forms and affidavits with the Department of the Interior in promissorium of a nominal annual fee.

The money from sales of semi-arid public lands in turn flowed to the construction and maintenance of irrigation projects, to which was added a considerably larger portion of federal grant money. The newly irrigated land was be sold and a percentage of the money again returned to a revolving fund that supported more such projects. Such practices led to the eventual damming and drainage of nearly every major western river at the hands of farming cooperatives and speculator/brokerage firms. Authored by Representative Francis G. Newlands of Nevada, the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 gave the Department of the Interior, among other things, the authority to amend repayment contracts and to extend brokerage repayments for a period up to but not more than 40 years. There was, however, no limit on the corporate use of water nor any oversight or regulation of speculative markets for land and water whose fortunes rose and fell with federal and state irrigation dollars. As a result much the same scenarios played out between well-intentioned homesteaders and aqua-business as fills the annals of the mineral, metal and oil exploration and reclamation—with the possible exception being that the lawlessness and strong-arm tactics of the water speculators, as well as the ruthlessness of those who resisted their expansions, has gone almost entirely unsung in the popular culture of the west.

On the buttes and mesas, the religion of Manifest Destiny collided with the indigenous ways of the desert. Color attacks, characterized by their vehemence and violence, were frequent, and their punishment swift and brutal. Words such as tone, green, yellow, hue, blush, crimson, blench, redden, color, colorize, discolor, people of color, vividness, chromaticity and tinge were stricken from public use in many places, where pidgin lexicon’s sprung up to distinguish locals from speculators. The most significant and far-reaching of these patois was the Covert Lexical Movement, which spanned 11 states and included a highly organized underground “army”, which deployed itself to hot-spots of speculation in defense of both public and private lands and waterways.

This army however did not fight with guns and steel helmets. For starters, its divisions, or Vivid Suffragette Unions, which spread throughout the Western Platte Sections under the dictation of the Central National Franchise of the Covert Lexical Movement, were almost entirely women. And their means of resistance spanned the gamut from guerrilla attack to the suspension of inter-gender social relations in affected regions. Whatever was deemed most chilling to the market of the speculator in question, that is what they enacted.

It has been suggested and implied in this study that nativism and racism make up the ideological underpinnings of an anti-colorist zeitgeist, also known as "business progressivism" (to quote Tindall), which began in the 1920s and rapidly extended to the eminent domain politics of water rights and water procuration in the South and Southwest during the 1930s and 40s. Further, it is possible to point to a nexus between the zeitgeist of the Procurationist Movement and that very nativism that serves as the backbone and base ideology of the Ku Klux Klan; that is: it is therefore neither surprising nor at times clear the differences in engagement between the "legally recognized" opponents of the Vivid Suffragettes and the actors and forces who frequently moved on their behalf. That the Suffragettes enemies pursued them on two fronts is clear: firstly, under the mask of "official" proclamation via the mani-tentacled arm(s) of the Newland's Reclamanation Project Administration Bureau and simultaneously through the zealously unlawful activities of sub-firma organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. While the link between the NRPAB and the Klan has yet to be sufficiently explicated, significant evidence exists of correspondences between reputed high-ranking members of the Klan and various appointed sub-cabinet officials spanning the Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Such evidences strongly indicate, on the part of certain members of the U.S. government, a willingness and intent to pursue/maintain covert relationships with the Klan, insofar as the KKK remained a useful instrument for directing and extending the philosophy of anti-colorist, moral authoritarianism into radical and often violence forms. Of course, the Klan as a national force deteriorated rapidly over the 1930s; however it did not vanish completely. Rather its localities persisted as nodes in the network while its most notorious and effective operatives moved into other federal bureaus and shadow organizations in order to continue to pursue and maintain the kind of lucrative access to virtually unlimited federal monies offered under-the-table for effective advancements of the NRPAB agenda in the Southwest.

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