|South West American Indians have a legend of the People that Live in the bowels of the Superstitions Mountains. Below is are the Pima
Indian accounts of such a people.
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As told by Chief Ash nash ni (1812? - 1907)
"My family belonged to an ancient race of people who, ages and ages ago, long before the dawn of any written history, lived in a fertile valley beside the shore of a beautiful inland sea. The soil of
the valley was very rich and grains, grasses and fruits grew in adundance. The inland sea was full of fish and the wooded slopes of the valley were well stocked with many kinds of wild game. The
climate was ideal. The rigors of winter were unknown and when the summers became too hot, there was easy escape to the cool mountains."
"My people were further blessed because the Earth gods had stored vast quantities of precious metals in caverns at the edge of the valley, where they might be obtained with little effort. These
could be used as a form of money and also for personal adornment. And so, my people knew nothing of hardship and learned to enjoy the beautiful things of life; and in time they became a very
"But as often is the case when life is too easy, they gradually became lazy and proud, pursuing only personal pleasures and selfish interests; so that in the end, their civilization fell, and they
reverted to a race half savage and half beast. This greatly fertile valley became a desert waste, the inland sea dried up, and on the edge of the desert a huge mountain was cast up, sealing
completely, and apparantly forever, the caverns of precious metals."
"The people were all destroyed and their spirits locked in the pinnacles of the mountain, except for a small remanant who were absent in the mountains on a hunting trip. The Earth gods
condemmed this group to a life of toil and hardship as a penance for the sins of their race. Their spirits and those of all the future generations would also be imprisoned in the pinnacles of the
mountain until some time in the distant future, when the wealth of the mountain should be obtained and used for the benefit of humanity. Then and only then, would the wrath of the Earth gods be
appeased and the atonement of my people completed."
For many centuries, according to Ash nash ni, these people and their descendants barely survived. Then little by little, their struggles began to be rewarded; and as modern history unfolds, they
are found as numerous and rugged tribe of Indians known as the Pimas or "Survivors" living in the neighborhood of the mysterious mountain called by them "Ain we gophon".
Today the ancient desert waste is known as the Salt River Valley of Arizona. By modern methods of irrigation it has again become a paradise of agriculture and the home of a highly advanced
civilization. At its eastern edge, Ain-we-gophon, Mountain of Mystery, rises in majestic splendor, guarding and protecting the ancient storehouse of precious metals. And because of the Pima
Indians of today still believe that the Earth gods will cause the mountain to fall and crush anyone who attempts to enter the ancient storehouse, the guardian has been called Superstition Mountain.
(From tourist brochure at Superstition Mountain.)
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|Mary Sutherland is an author and
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