Legends about who has or hasn't found the Lost Dutchman Mine have been in existence for nearly 120 years since the deaths of Jacob Waltz, his partner Jacob Weiser and associate Manuel Peralta. It is perhaps one of North Americas most famous lost mine and the whereabouts have infected the hearts, minds and souls of treasure seekers worldwide, but it continues to draw its fame from those who have gone searching, but turn up missing or presumed dead by forces of mother nature or greedy men who really don't want to share its mineral wealth.
The Lost Dutchman Mine of Arizona continues to draw prospectors and dreamers hoping to strike it rich. You could say it is on par with the El Dorado Mines of South America. Human eyes sparkle when someone mentions the lost treasures haven't been found in the Superstition Mountains. Many amateur treasure seekers have not heeded the warnings about the Apache Curse. It is said the Indian spirits protect the sacred burial grounds of the Apache Indians and the mineral treasures of the Superstitions. Many adult Indians were entombed in caves, but it was the Jesuit missionaries and traveling priests who ventured in among the Southwest Indians who told them to protect the mineral treasures from the eyes of white settlers otherwise they'd be doomed.
Sometime the Superstition Mountains about 40 mile East of Phoenix are shrouded in eeries mists and low misty clouds. Temperatures rise and fall according to the seasons, but the summer is terribly hot with ground temperatures nearing 120 degrees and winter temperatures near freezing. Its a hostile environment when you aren't prepared and don't carry enough water. The Superstitions seems to have swallowed them and nobody has found any trace of them. The Superstition Mountains have spectacular scenery, but is fraught with unimaginable danger or is the Apache Curse just an attempt to scare away the tenderfoots to keep the treasure safe from outsiders.
The curse can actually be traced back to the early 1500's when the five Kings of Spain (Philip) encouraged the Jesuit missionaries and priests to explore the Superstitions and bring religion to the Indians in Arizona and New Mexico. The priests tried to force religion on the Indians and used them to mine gold and silver for their services and Kings of Spain for over 200 years. The priests tried to impress upon the Indians that they should never let settlers mine for gold, because much harm would come to them. The Jesuits were in business for themselves and sent some gold back to King Philip between 1700-1746. Jesuit reported back to the Kings that before the early 1600 approximately 15,000 Apache were roaming the Southwest most in loose family bands and no big tribes. The Spaniards were called "Apaches de Navajos."
Hollywood movies always depicted the Apaches as tribal warriors, but in actuality most Apache units were comprised of thirty or less, but larger families up to fifty. The Apaches were not the bloodthirsty scalpers, but were raiders of other Indian villages like the Pimas, The Puebloans and Apaches fought the Comanches and Kiowas of the Great Plains, but no matter what tribe was fighting they didn't appreciate the white settlers streaming across their land in pursuit of gold and silver treasures of the desert Southwest and those later in the 1840's trying to get the goldfields of California. The Jesuit priests tried using Bible teachings to stop the Apaches from raiding Pueblo villages, but alas the Puebloans moved the higher ground and became cliff-dewllers out of reach of Apache warriors.
To counter Apache attacks the Pimans built stockades around their communities with permanent guards and from 1500-1750 the Apaches kept their communities mobile because of their raids into Mexico that caused other tribes to abandon the area who then retaliated against the Apache. Apache raids were being done not by tribes, but local groups. The Apaches were skilled at guerilla warfare until about 1884. The primary goal was not to kill, but seize food supplies - not the Hollywood depictions in the 1900's. This is the rain of terror the Jesuit priests tried to halt Indians killing Indians. They preached "Thou shalt not steal," but they themselves had helped themselves to the Indian treasures of the Superstition Mountains for nearly 200 years.
Under the priests, the Indian natives of the Southwest, especially in the vicinity of the Superstition Mountains, were vassals of the Kings of Spain. They were treated harshly by Spanish civil and military authorities. The priests became overzealous to establish their religion and forced it upon the Indians who were repressing native beliefs and practices. The priests used religion on the fuedal tenants turning them into slaves for the purpose of extracting Indian wealth. Repression of Indian cultures caused resentment against priests and Kings of Spain and it started the Indian Rebellion of 1680. Heads of Peublo tribes sent runners to each and decreed an appointed day in which all whites should be killed. The priests were given full warning, but when they tried civilian authorities threats it cause the Indians to attack immediately. Hundreds of Spainards with priests were killed and the Governor of New Mexico fled to El Paso.
Five years passed before Father Eusebio Francisco Kino arrived at a Pima Indian village along the Gila River, Arizona, some thirty miles above the junction with the Salt River on November 27, 1697. His travels took him along the Gila River from 1687-1710. He was accompanied by Juan Mateo Mange, who wrote Kino's journal of his travels and it was evident by the strange carvings on the rock walls of the Eastern Superstition Mountains, which foretold the effects of European goods and Spanish influences. The carvings showed that at first the Spainards were friendly, but as time passed they felt dissatisfaction with the steady stream of treasure seekers and other whites penetrating their country.
The Southwest Indians felt the pressures as religious slaves to King Philip V (1700-1746). In fact, he got impatient and was tired of supporting Jesuit missionaries, because they hadn't broken the tribal Indian cultures and beliefs and in turn the Indians were getting more angry. King Philip got upset with the priests and ordered all Jesuits out of Mexico and the Indians were livid in the Southwest when the priests with Spaniards loaded up wagons and were attempting to flee with Indian treasures. The Superstition Mountains part of Mexico until 1848 when it became a territory of the U.S. Priests in the Superstition Mountain range were warned to hide mine records and leave stored treasured behind , but greed overcame them and they tried to leave the Superstition Mountains with 200,000 coins (might be silver), 40 bars of gold weighing 2 pounds each and a giant gold cross (curicifix) weighing an estimated 900 pounds. Today this treasure if found would be worth approximately 500 million. There's a mystery here because how does one transport a 900 pound gold cross down the eastside of the Superstition Mountains?
This treasure reportedly got down to the Gila-Salt River, but an Apache raiding party intercepted and killed everyone transporting it. Some treasure was transported west, but Indians intercepted the Spainards and they were massacred in the desert. The southern route to Mexico thru the Sonoran desert was shorter, but more dangerous and anyone seen trying to flee with treasure would be massacred soon. The Apaches and all the Indian tribes were infuriated with the Jesuits and their religion persecution. Rumor has it that the bulk of the Eastern treasure was retrieved from the Gila river country and hidden in a secret hiding place in the 1800's, but a big mystery. It could have been moved back to the mountains or hidden outside the Superstitions. It could have been returned and placed in the Lost Dutchman Mine. The Apaches considered the Superstition Mountains sacred, because so many of their adults are buried within the caves while Pueblo children are buried in the masonry walls of the cliff dwellers and adults buried beneath the floors. Most favored cave burials.
The gold cross of Arizona has its own legend, too, amongst the Odawa and Chippewa Indian tribes of Michigan. Indian runners from the Great Plains were asking for help in returning a stolen large gold cross. Odawas living in the Grand River and Flat River country around the mid 1830's before the Treaty of Washington 1836 was signed, say a large gold cross was seen being transported northeast towards the Gateway to Heaven. The Gateway to Heaven was coined by the Jesuit missionaries that established a mission near Ada in the 1600's. The high hills were Egypt Valley Country Club north of Ada, Michigan is located today was considered by religious priests and Indians as the Gateway to Heaven, because of the high terrain in a rising sun. The mystery here is where did it go? Was it headed to Canada? The cross today is worth 187 million dollars.
Next time I'll discuss what's happened since 1848 to present and what clues have surfaced from my neck of the North Woods. What I know about Arizona is it is a land where things sting, you get stuck, bitten by rattlesnakes, scorpions and things eat meat, blistered by sun or frozen. From my neck of the north woods things sting, you get stuck with Prickly Pears, bitten by rattlesnakes, spiders and things eat meat, blistered by the sun in sand dunes or frozen. Whatever Arizona has Michigan has the same.