Western Life

The Ark on Superstition Mountain

Native American culture is rich with stories and legends, which vary throughout the tribes. Many of the legends are spiritual in origin, and have been passed down through generations by word of mouth. Tribe elders became the main storytellers, and did their best to ensure that tales of physical and spiritual origin were passed on to the younger generations. Knowledge truly made the tribes’ history and spirituality come alive, and many of the stories of the tribes are similar to those found in Christianity, and other western religions.

The Arizonian Pima Indians believed that the creator of all earthy beings was the butterfly, Cheroot Make. The name means ‘earth maker,’ and mankind was created from his sweat after he fluttered down from the clouds. As his most intelligent creation multiplied, humans became aggressive and dishonorable, and the god was ashamed of their behavior. He vowed to drown everybody if they didn’t start living more peacefully and honorably. Taking the form of the wind, he issued many warnings, which were heeded only by the prophet, Suha. When Suha tried to warn the other members of the tribe, he was labelled as a fool for listening to the wind.

Cheroot Make told Suha to make a hollow ball of spruce gum, which would protect him and his wife from the floods. They filled the ball with provisions and positioned it at the top of the mountain. Once they were safe, Cheroot Make released the flood’s signal, which was a hand of fire thrust from the clouds. Immediately after, a long-lasting downpour began that caused the land to be covered in water. After it subsided the couple emerged from the ball, and settled by The Superstition Mountains. They resided here for 1,000 years, had many children and became the leaders of a great tribe.

Although Cheroot Make had attempted to cleanse the world of all evil, a devil remained in the mountains. This demon, known as Hauk, plagued the tribe which Sahu founded and began to steal his daughters and kill his sons. The father had no choice but to protect his family from this danger and, after following the devil home, drugged Hauk’s cactus wine. One of Sahu’s daughters served the unsuspecting demon the drink and he became incapacitated. Suha leapt from his hiding place and butchered Hauk. Where the pieces fell, other forms of evil sprouted, but these demons were never as wicked as their father. 

To ensure their survival, Suha had taught his tribe to build huts and irrigation systems, as well as weave cloth to make clothing and avoid fighting each other. On his death bed, however, he predicted that they would once again become greedy and immoral. Cheroot Make would be forced to send another flood, which would kill all those that were unjust. The good members of the tribe would then ascend to live in the sun. The Pima tribe continues to believe in this prophecy, and they avoid crossing The Superstition Mountains as Cheroot Make waits here until the day he will release the waters on the corrupt world. 

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