Montezuma – Gods, Treasure, and the Story of Creation

“We Spaniards know a sickness of the heart that only gold can cure.”

– Hernan Cortes

 

No doubt you’ve heard the name Montezuma somewhere before, but how about Moctezuma? Also known as Moteczoma, Motecuhzoma, Moteuczomah, and Mwatazuma. But usually referred to here in the Southwest as simply Montezuma.

I often tell the story of Montezuma when conducting my tours en-route to the Grand Canyon. Nine times out of ten when I ask if anyone has ever heard this name, I will get the response “I know what Montezuma’s revenge is”. This is the extent of most people’s familiarity with it.

But who was Montezuma, or Moctezuma, and why does the name appear throughout the southwest from the names of streets to schools and even a Freemason’s Lodge? What is the fascination with this once king of the Aztec empire and why has the name been immortalized by government agencies and secret societies? Is there something deeper to the story(s) of Montezuma? Something early pioneers knew and adopted into our own culture but has since been forgotten?

Who was Montezuma or Moctezuma?

Well, it depends on who you are talking about. First, there’s the historical account of Moctezuma II, king of the Aztec Empire and first victim of Spanish contact in 1520. Then there is Montezuma, who according to the Tohono O’odham, was the first being created by the “great spirit” who then assisted him in bringing forth all the other tribes. We’ll dive into him first.

Montezuma

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Tohono O’odham ceremony

The following is the creation of the Tohono O’odham tribe of southern Arizona. They are believed to be descendants of the Hohokam (an ancient culture which once thrived in the Salt River valley from 300 BC to 1400AD) their name means desert people.

(From Wikipedia) 

In the Tohono O’odham legend, at the beginning of time the Great Spirit finds clay by digging a hole; he then drops the clay into the hole again and out comes Montezuma, who assists him in bringing out all the Indian tribes, with the Apache last of all. It is said that all men and animals were speaking a common language in the early days; however a great flood destroyed everyone, with only Montezuma and his friend, Coyote, escaping. Because Coyote had warned him of the flood beforehand, Montezuma had fashioned a boat that he kept prepared on the peak of the Santa Rosa Mountains in Arizona. Coyote likewise made a boat for himself, by gnawing down a giant cane and stopping it with gum.

After the flood had subsided, Montezuma and Coyote meet again atop Monte Rosa, and Montezuma sends Coyote out four times, once in each direction, to find out how far the sea is. He quickly returned from the south and the west, reporting that it was nearby. The journey east took a bit longer, but eventually he found the sea there also. Finally, he journeys northward and never finds water before growing tired.

Meanwhile, the Great Spirit, helped by Montezuma, has again repopulated the world with people and animals. Montezuma is entrusted with the governance of mankind, but becoming proud and wicked, he rebels against the Great Spirit, dismisses Coyote, and commands mankind to build a house tall enough to reach Heaven. Before he can succeed at this endeavor, the Great Spirit casts it down with thunderbolts, causing a confusion in the languages of mankind.

Persisting in his wickedness, Montezuma commands all the temples be destroyed; in response, the Great Spirit punishes him by sending a locust to the east to summon the Spanish, who make war on Montezuma and destroy him.

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Traditional lands of the Tohono O’odham people. Note its proximity to the traditional Aztec lands to the south.

This legend was related by chief Con Quien of the Tohono O’odham to Hubert Howe Bancroft and published in the Indian Affairs Report of 1865, p. 131.

Dang, sure sounds a lot like Genesis huh? Amazing that a “primitive” tribe halfway around the world would have a near identical creation story to that of Christianity. This is not as strange as it may first appear however as one only has to barely scratch the surface to learn that the story of a great flood is ubiquitous across the world and occurs on every continent. It’s actually this fact which made Christianity such an easy sell to many of the indigenous cultures of the world when first being discovered by the Europeans. I don’t mean to make it sound as if Christianity was received with open arms by everyone the Europeans came in contact with, but the idea of a great flood, a virgin birth, and a man who worked miracles was nothing new in the “New World.”

Similarities between Genesis and the Tohono O’odham creation story

  • Monotheism
  • Montezuma, like Adam, was the first creation. In the story, Montezuma drops clay into a hole and Montezuma comes out. The name Adam in Hebrew means “To be red” as in the ruddy color of human skin, like clay. It also means “Earth” as in dirt.
  • Montezuma helps the creator bring forth all the other tribes. Adam procreated and brought forth all other humans on earth.
  • In the O’odham story, men and animals were all speaking a common language in those days. In the Garden of Eden man wandered with beast without conflict.
  • A great flood destroys everyone. Obvious enough, the story of Noah from the Bible Gen 6 & 7.
  • Only Montezuma and Coyote survive. Only Noah and his family survive the flood of the bible.
  • Montezuma only survived because Coyote had warned him that a flood was coming. Noah survived because God spared him because his blood line was pure (perfect in his generations) and not tainted with that of Nephilim.
  • Montezuma had fashioned a boat to survive the flood that he kept prepared in the peaks of the Santa Rita Mountains. Once again, Noah built a boat to survive the flood. (Coyote also made a boat)
  • Montezuma sends Coyote out in four directions to get a survey of the land and and see how far away the sea is. Gen 8:7-11 Noah sends for a raven and a dove to see how far away land is.
  • Like Noah, Montezuma goes forth and repopulates the earth.
  • Montezuma becomes wicked and proud and disobeys Coyote commanding mankind to build a house tall enough to reach heaven, before it is completed, the Great Spirit casts it down with thunderbolts and confuses the language of all mankind. This is the story of the Tower of Babel from the bible Gen 11:1-9.

So we see here that we have a creation story which is identical in story line to that of the Christian Bible. A story in which Coyote seems to be a (go between) of sorts, between man and the creator, perhaps akin the holy spirit.

This story is not without controversy however. Whereas one can read the words of Dr. Bancock and draw an amazing correlation between the ancient peoples of the Southwest and Western civilization, it’s just as easy to propose that Christianity was overlaid upon traditional Tohono O’odham creation story; and since the Tohono O’odham lacked a written language their history was subject to the faults of memory. Or perhaps Bancock took some liberty with the story himself and helped it along. One would like to think this wouldn’t happen, but it is a possibility. Academia being what it is, is often subject to expectations from superiors and those footing the bill. However, taken as is, it is quite the connection to be sure.

Pueblo version of Montezuma

Next we have the Pueblo version of the Montezuma creation story. The Pueblo tribes are located in what is now norther New Mexico. These tribes share quite a bit of culture with those of Arizona, so much so that the Heard Museum located in Phoenix, AZ couldn’t separate the cultures and themed the entire museum on them both. This is due in large part to the expansive trade networks of the ancient southwest. Phoenix, AZ is located at the convergence of six rivers, and it is these rivers which became trade routes of the ancient southwest. Once again from Wikipedia.

Montezuma also figures prominently in the religion of the Pueblo Indians, who held that their god-king Montezuma was variously from Taos, Acoma or one of the other pueblos, and was conceived from a beautiful virgin and a pinyon pine nut. Although weak as a youth, he was chosen to be their unlikely leader, and surprised everyone with his miracles, including the ability to produce rain. He taught the people their customs, and how to build the adobe pueblos. One day he kindled a fire that they were never to allow to burn out, then departed for Mexico (in some versions, on the back of an eagle), promising to return some day and save them from the Spanish.

Once again you can see to obvious correlations between the Pueblo tribes and the Christian Bible. From the story of the virgin birth and the would-be leader, to the miracles later worked by him, and his departing with a promise to return and save them at a later time. Again, sounds like the bible, only the new testament this time.

Montezuma – A Mysterious Caucasian Explorer

Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl

Then there’s the story of Llewellyn Harris, a Welsh-American Mormon missionary who visited the Zuni tribe in 1878. He was no doubt curious as to the stories found in his book of Mormon about the people who once inhabited the Americas. Harris claimed the Zuni told him they were descended from Montezuma, who himself was descended from white men called “Cambaraga” who had come from over the sea 300 years before the Spanish. He also claimed the Zuni had many Welsh words in their language.

This story sounds much like that of Prince Madoc who allegedly sailed to the Americas in 1170; 322 years before Columbus. This is interesting as the Mandan tribe of North Dakota claimed that this man was their “Great Father” and that he had made two voyages bringing many people over to begin a new colony. The Mandan claimed that throughout the years however they had interbred with the nearby tribes and blond hair and blue being recessive traits were bred out. But not entirely as it was the blonde hair and blue eyed Indians who caught the attention of Lewis and Clark on their infamous expedition. And it is this story that is recorded in Meriweather Lewis’s official journal.

Aztec Version

In the Aztec version of this story it would appear that their deity (Quetzalcoatl) Montezuma, and Prince Madoc are one in the same person. Quetzalcoatl was known as the winged snake, or the plumed serpent, but just as often portrayed as a white male with facial hair, traveling over the great water in a boat from the east. According to the Aztec he came in peace and taught them many things including architecture, the science of the stars, and useful social customs.

This sounds an awful lot like cultural defusionism if you ask me. It seems no matter where one goes in the Americas they will hear ancient tales Caucasian men who once visited long ago. Of course there are mountains of evidence for this, but that’s another article. This article is about Montezuma.

Moctezuma II

Moctezuma II
Moctezuma II

And then there’s the official Moctezuma. Moctezuma II, the ninth and infamous ruler of Tenochtitlan and king of the Aztecs. Moctezuma II reigned from 1502 – 1520 and it was during his reign that first contact between indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica and Europeans took place. Although Moctezuma was known to be quite an aggressive ruler by expanding his territory substantially, it is a bit of a mystery as to why he didn’t put up more of a struggle against the Spanish. Many historians believe it is because he thought Hernan Cortes (the invading conquistador) was their returned god Quetzalcoatl (at least at first) as Cortes surely fit the prophecy. Cortes was white, kept a beard, and came from the east in a boat. But as history would have it, he was not their returned god, and Moctezuma II would soon be killed after being taken hostage in his own palace. The details of his death are vague, but a few different versions persist.

Moctezuma’s Treasure

This story begins in 1520 with the imprisonment of Moctezuma II by Cortez and his fellow conquistadors. In what was perhaps the worst judgment call in military history; barring of course General Custard’s final command, Cortez held the Aztec king for ransom in his own palace and demanded vast amounts of treasure before he would be freed. As one version goes, he touched the tip of his sword as high up on the wall as it would reach and demanded that treasure be brought back and fill the room to that point. It was then Moctezuma II told his men to bring back enough treasure to meet Cortez’s demands but simultaneously sent out runners who were instructed to transport the remainder of Aztec gold north to Aztlan, which was the origin of the gold. Here it was to be hidden safely from the Spanish.

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Hernan Cortez

Cortez ended up killing Moctezuma anyway or he died at the hands of his own people for capitulating to the Spanish, no one knows for sure. But whatever happened Cortez barely made it out of there with his life. He returned a year later with superior numbers and arms, conquered the Aztec people, and plundered their remaining wealth. It was at this time the Spanish turned their hand to torturing the Aztecs in an attempt to locate of more gold.

Here’s were it gets foggy again. And here is were history, religion, and tall tales converge. Either the Aztecs told the Spanish whatever they wanted to hear in order to stop being tortured, or the Spanish themselves, fueled by gold fever, embellished local legends and those stories grew as they made their way up the ranks. It was during this time the story of the seven caravans of gold emerged (A story most likely linked to the seven caves of Aztlan) but whatever did happen, the Spanish to turned their efforts north and made their way into whats now the American Southwest.

Hernan Cortez and Moctezuma II
Hernan Cortez and Moctezuma II

Whereas upon Cortez’s arrival there were vast amounts of gold in the Aztec empire and whispering of golden cities to the north, it wasn’t until the survivors of the failed Narvaez expedition; Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and his African slave Esteban Dorantes made their way back to civilization did gold fever fully take root within the Spanish ranks. Nunez reported that during his years living with the natives he heard stories of cities of limitless wealth to the north in what is today northern New Mexico. Later conquistadors would make this journey only to discover adobe pueblos and peaceful farming communities in place of cities of gold.

Once the Spanish reached these pueblo tribes of Northern NM they began learning stories of a legendary city of Quivira, which supposedly contained vast amounts of gold and was located somewhere on the great plains to the east. Another golden city, maybe this was what the Aztecs were talking about. You would think by now the Spanish would be a little cautious, but this time it didn’t seem like such a tall tale as it was widely believed and talked about by local natives. Because of this the Spanish seemed confident that something did indeed await them upon the vast plains to the east. In fact they were so confident that Coronado himself led the expedition. Well, as you can guess, no great lost city of gold was ever found, or else we’d all be speaking Spanish for sure. Coronado’s expedition turned up only starving plains Indians in grass huts living in what he described as “miserable conditions”. He stuck it out as long as he dared but eventually turned around somewhere in today’s Kansas.

Connections?

So then, what are the connections between the Montezuma of the creation stories of the indigenous peoples of the the Southwest, and Moctezuma II? Or are they connected at all? Some anthropologists believe the name Moctezuma made its way north along trade routes as he was a powerful and influential leader. From there it is believed the name worked its way into creation stories and remained there until discovered by the Spanish. Others surmise there is no connection at all and it is just a coincidence or translation error. Still, here it is.

We know from archaeological sites scattered all across the southwest that these cultures and Mesoamerica were very much entwined. From the grain, gems and feathers to varieties the of corn, rubber, and cotton fibers found from ancient clothing, we know without a doubt that life between these cultures was a fluid system. By this evidence it would stand to reason that the name of a man as powerful as Moctezuma could make its way this far north. Or maybe not, perhaps it made its way south instead.

Aztlan

The territory believed to be the ledgendary Aztlan
The territory believed to be the legendary Aztlan

Aztlan is the legendary ancestral home of the Aztec people and is generally believed to have been located in what is today’s northern Mexico and southwestern states of the U.S. “Aztecha” is the Nahuatl word for “People from Aztlan”. The land of Aztlan is mentioned often in ethnohistorical sources dating from the colonial period however each of them lists different tribal groups who participated in the migration from Aztlan to central Mexico, but the Mexica who went on to found Mexico-Tenochtitlan are mentioned in all of the accounts.

If you do a quick search of Aztlan on the inter-web you’ll soon discover that all “credible” sources never fail to mention that the “legend” of Aztlan is most likely purely myth, and the “idea” of such a place represents “no historical reality”. Hummmm….. I wonder why this is?

Well I have a sneaky suspicion it has something to do with maintaining the official story of the history of this continent and its previous inhabitants. Is everything a conspiracy? No. Do I believe this to be? Yes I do.

The official history books have it that civilizations developed in Mesoamerica and then migrated north, advancing the cultures of North American tribes. However within the last two decades and the invent of the internet, access to information and free thought has won the day and researchers are no longer bound within the confines of mainstream academic chains. There is more than enough evidence pointing to the fact that North America, in a time long before the most recent European contact, was a bustling place and part of a global network. From recently discovered pyramids here in the U.S. to the mounds of the Mississippi River valley. From Archeo-astronomical sites dotting the entire continent, to discovered artifacts that don’t quite match up with official history. These these and more have been dismissed by mainstream academia as simply hoaxes.

Why change history?

Why would anyone want to keep this a secret? Quite simply, to control the present and future. He who controls the past controls the future. If we were to understand the true history of our species we may finally understand that the individual and collective paths we currently travel are truly not serving us at all and instead are facilitating a much larger agenda. Perhaps if we were to discover that the history of the human species is in fact much different than what we’ve been told we’d make different choices in our lives and reject the chains of the paradigm we currently find ourselves in.

It’s my suspicion that the cover-up of the true history of this continent is ongoing SOP for this agenda. Add to this the true builders of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, the natural energy gird system of the planet, and the labyrinth of myth on which world religions are built upon and a bigger picture begins to come into focus. Dive into the secret societies of today and dare to learn how deep their influence really goes. Step back and take a good look into advertising, banking, and commerce, and begin to take note that we are being herded into like cattle into a future that is not of our making. Simply “human resources” perhaps, where have you heard that before? Like trainable animals just smart enough operate the machines do the paperwork. This is why history is changed and rewritten people. There is no great conspiracy here, it is out in the open and in your face if you choose to see it.

Montezuma’s Head

Map to Montazuma's Head southwest of Phoenix, AZ
Map to Montazuma’s Head southwest of Phoenix, AZ

This legend involving the name of Montezuma come to us from the nearby Sierra Estrella mountains where a large stash of gold is supposedly buried near a rock outcropping which resembles the heard of a Native American, in this case (Montezuma). Whereas the story itself has nothing to do with Montezuma, or Moctezuma, the story still involves gold and murder. According to John Mitchell, in 1847 a Mexican aristocrat named Don Joaquin discovered gold in the Sierra Estrella mountain range just southwest of present day Phoenix, AZ. Supposedly he enslaved the Apaches of the area and forced them into labor digging the mines. Don Joaquin soon amassed quite a bit of high grade gold ore, but shortly thereafter the U.S. Army entered the area and engaged the Mexicans, affording the Apaches a chance to revolt. Knowing they couldn’t escape with the weight of the gold they hid it in a canyon not far from a rock formation named Montezuma’s Head. The Mexicans were killed, save one man. He returnedimages-1 later to recover the gold but couldn’t locate the cache.

Or at least that’s one version of the story. Another version has it that Don Joaquin forced an Apache to dig a hole to stash the gold ore inside. Once buried, Don Joaquin murdered the Apache so only he would know its location, but was later killed himself (Hows that for Karma?) and now no one knows the location of the gold.

This story smimages-3acks of every lost gold mine or lost treasure in the American southwest and I personally don’t put a whole lot of stock in it. There is no doubt rich strikes of gold have been located in the Estrella mountains as well as nearby South Mountain. But a sizable amount of ore left behind? Not likely. What helps to propagate this legend are the many petroglyphs in the area, including the ones on Montezuma’s head itself, and the obvious connection to Moctezuma and his seven hidden caravans of treasure. This being the case, there are still people who seek this lost treasure and others like it in the area.


Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well, Montezuma Petroglyphs

Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle

A short drive north from phoenix will put you into the upper Verde Valley of Central Arizona. This valley represents the longest continuing inhabited piece of real estate on the North American continent. Temperate climate, abundant resources, flood farming opportunities, and location all the reasons for this. Not surprisingly you’ll also find in this valley a large number of Native American ruins here, some of which are national monuments, but it’s the ones bearing the name Montezuma which caught my attention. Located in the Verde Valley you’ll find Montezuma’s castle, Montezuma’s well Montezuma’s wall (an extensive ancient petroglyph site).

The Castle

According to the national park service neither part of the name “Montezuma’s Castle” is correct. Apparently early American pioneers first discovered these long abandoned ruins and named them for the long abandoned Aztec ruler whom they believed had been responsible for their construction. It would seem however that the ruins are much older and were in fact abandoned 40 years before Moctezuma was even born.

Does this mean though that they weren’t utilized by Moctezuma? Does it mean that a connection between those who built these ruins and the Aztecs didn’t exist? Of course it doesn’t. In fact we know for certain that there was. Montezuma’s Castle lies on the most important ancient trade route in all of Arizona. It was a hub of trade between the four corners region to the north and the vast civilizations to the south, all the way in what is now central Mexico.

Were early pioneers really that uneducated, naive, or simple? This comes up quite a bit in my research actually and I’d like to take a moment to address it. So much fascinating history is simply explained away do to this belief that it astounds me. Connections which could be made otherwise and actually fit more readily are completely turned away or simply dismissed with this preconceived notion. What’s more is that many academic researchers today are quite proud of their work, and their personal construct of history which they have created that this becomes a rather convenient explanation and they can simply overlay their version upon the previous and move on down the academic road.

I personally believe that these earlier men who first set foot on the frontier had not necessarily a better grasp of what they saw, but perhaps a purer sense, than we do today. History was “closer” to them than it is to us today and hadn’t had time to be morphed and changed to fit agendas yet. So there it was that early pioneers believed many of the ruin systems in Arizona to have at least some connection to Moctezuma that they went on to put his name to one of the greatest of them.

The Well

Montezuma Well
Montezuma Well

Montezuma’s Well is a wonder in itself and I intend to write an entire article on it soon. But to briefly outline it, here goes. Montezuma’s Well is the longest continually flowing freshwater spring on the North American continent. It is the believed site of the Sipapu of the Yavapai, and Hopi people in many of their religious traditions and geologically it is a collapsed limestone cavern which afforded surface access to a seemingly endless supply of fresh water.

This “well” has been utilized for over 10,000 years that we are aware of and humans have never left its vicinity. Although low in O2 the water is perfect for drinking and farming and has been used for such purposes since humans discovered it. It is really no surprise that it bears the name of a name which ties in with the creation stories of so many of the local tribes as well as a great leader to the south.

The Wall

Montezuma’s Wall, also known as V-ranch petroglyphs is located not far from the well and is a rather large collection of petroglyphs which tell stories we probably haven’t even discovered to search for yet. Like all petroglyphs, they are subject to interpretation and no one truly know what they mean. Even natives are left to guessing as to what their own ancestors were trying to convey when the scratched these ancient rocks.

Victorio Treasure

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Doc Noss crumpled dead upon the bumper of his truck after being shot by his pilot.

vicpeaksignThe story of the Victorio Peak treasure comes to us from nearby New Mexico. When I say this story is AMAZING, it truly is. This is another recent tale of gold, paranoia, and murder, and begins with a man named Doc Noss. It quickly progresses to paranoia and infighting and ends with Doc getting fatally shot by a pilot he hired to move the gold bars to another site. The U.S. military moves in, requisitioned the land as a military base and it is rumored that Nixon, Johnson, and higher up generals wound up with much of the gold. A whistle blowing pilot came forth years later and admitted he flew countless trips to Mexico transporting the gold pulled out of Victorio Peak to the Mexican government where it was sold off for 50 cents on the dollar. I’ve inset the video below which goes into more detail about this bizarre story. It is widely believed that this large stash of almost pure gold was one of the seven caravans of gold Moctezuma II had sent north.

The following embedded videos cover in detail the story of the Victorio Peak treasure.

 

Montezuma’s Grand Mason Lodge

Which brings us to the Montezuma’s Grand Mason Lodge of Phoenix, AZ. Right away we see that the Freemasons felt name, idea, or legend of Montezuma was important enough to name the Phoenix Masonic Temple after. What’s even more interesting is the sister lodge in Prescott is named the “Aztlan Lodge” and lies not far from Montezuma’s Castle.

Like anything the Freemasons construct it is coded in symbolism and hidden meaning, for those who are “meant to see” and this lodge is no exception. In fact it’s rather brilliant in its design. The Montezuma’s Grand Mason Lodge actually forms the all seeing eye on the top of a pyramid. Exactly like the one on the back of the one dollar bill. Grande Ave, comes in a 45 degree angle and forms the right side of the pyramid, while Van Buren St. forms the flat top of the pyramid. I’ve written an in depth article over viewing it here.

Do the Freemasons have knowledge concerning the ancient history of the American Southwest? Do they possess in part, information which when added to the balance of known history of this ancient land would bring into focus the true history of the Americas? Could this be part of what Joseph Smith based Mormonism upon? What about the lost tribe of Israel?

Then there is the fact that pyramids have been discovered all over the world and dare I suggest their large resemblance to the pyramids of central Mexico and further south still.

Conclusion

What is this ubiquitous connection between Montezuma or Moctezuma and the southwestern U.S.? Why is the name synonymous with gold and rich lands and empires? I’m not entirely sure but I do see for a fact that it is right here in front of our eyes. It’s also obvious that people in positions of authority also recognize this and have worked it into the fabric of North America.

Cory Daniel is a professional certified interpretive guide and writer/researcher who currently lives in the Valley of the Sun.

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