The Ark On Superstition Mountains





The Pima Indians of Arizona say that the father of all men and animals

was the butterfly, Cherwit Make (earth-maker), who fluttered down from

the clouds to the Blue Cliffs at the junction of the Verde and Salt

Rivers, and from his own sweat made men. As the people multiplied they

grew selfish and quarrelsome, so that Cherwit Make was disgusted with his

handiwork and resolved to drown them all. But first he told them, in the

voice of the north wind, to be honest and to live at peace. The prophet

Suha, who interpreted this voice, was called a fool for listening to the

wind, but next night came the east wind and repeated the command, with an

added threat that the ruler of heaven would destroy them all if they did

not reform.



Again they scoffed, and on the next night the west wind cautioned them.

But this third warning was equally futile. On the fourth night came the

south wind. It breathed into Suha's ear that he alone had been good and



should be saved, and bade him make a hollow ball of spruce gum in which

he might float while the deluge lasted. Suha and his wife immediately set

out to gather the gum, that they melted and shaped until they had made a

large, rounded ark, which they ballasted with jars of nuts, acorn-meal

and water, and meat of bear and venison.



On the day assigned Suha and his wife were looking regretfully down into

the green valleys from the ledge where the ark rested, listening to the

song of the harvesters, and sighing to think that so much beauty would

presently be laid waste, when a hand of fire was thrust from a cloud and

it smote the Blue Cliffs with a thunder-clang. It was the signal. Swift

came the clouds from all directions, and down poured the rain.

Withdrawing into their waxen ball, Suha and his wife closed the portal.

Then for some days they were rolled and tossed on an ever-deepening sea.

Their stores had almost given out when the ark stopped, and breaking a

hole in its side its occupants stepped forth.



There was a tuna cactus growing at their feet, and they ate of its red

fruit greedily, but all around them was naught but water. When night came

on they retired to the ark and slept--a night, a month, a year, perhaps a

century, for when they awoke the water was gone, the vales were filled

with verdure, and bird-songs rang through the woods. The delighted couple

descended the Superstition Mountains, on which the ark had rested, and

went into its valleys, where they lived for a thousand years, and became

the parents of a great tribe.



But the evil was not all gone. There was one Hauk, a devil of the

mountains, who stole their daughters and slew their sons. One day, while

the women were spinning flax and cactus fibre and the men were gathering

maize, Hauk descended into the settlement and stole another of Suha's

daughters. The patriarch, whose patience had been taxed to its limit,

then made a vow to slay the devil. He watched to see by what way he

entered the valley. He silently followed him into the Superstition

Mountains; he drugged the cactus wine that his daughter was to serve to

him; then, when he had drunk it, Suha emerged from his place of hiding

and beat out the brains of the stupefied fiend.



Some of the devil's brains were scattered and became seed for other evil,

but there was less wickedness in the world after Hauk had been disposed

of than there had been before. Suha taught his people to build adobe

houses, to dig with shovels, to irrigate their land, to weave cloth, and

avoid wars. But on his death-bed he foretold to them that they would grow

arrogant with wealth, covetous of the lands of others, and would wage

wars for gain. When that time came there would be another flood and not

one should be saved--the bad should vanish and the good would leave the

earth and live in the sun. So firmly do the Pimas rely on this prophecy

that they will not cross Superstition Mountains, for there sits Cherwit

Make--awaiting the culmination of their wickedness to let loose on the

earth a mighty sea that lies dammed behind the range.





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