• Email
  • Print

Mysterious Symbol of the Arrowhead

ORGEOUSLY emblazoned on the dark wall of the mountains to the north, half way between El Cajon and San Gorgonio pass, between the titanic heights of San Antonio and San Bernardino, stands the Mystery of the Valley, the gigantic arrowhead painted by the master hand of nature in light tints upon a dark background, a likeness as startlingly similar to the cutting portion of the aboriginies' chief weapon as it is inexplicable by the reasoning process. From shank to tip the picture is perfect in every detail, down to the serrated, wavy edges on the sides and to the roughly hewn surface of the center. The immediate cause of the immense symbol, an emblem 1375 feet from end to end and 450 feet. wide, is easily discovered by an examination of the soil. Over the entire extent of the arrowhead the soil consists of disintegrating light gray granite and white quartz supporting seven acres of white sage and light green weeds. surrounded on all sides by the dark-green foliage of greasewood and chaparral. But how did it happen that the soil in this area differs so sharply from its surroundings? Why is there not an imperceptible melting of the quartz and the light granite into the dark rock? What power was the basic cause of this startling phenomenon? Hundreds of thousands of travelers, viewing the symbol of the vanished native race high on the mountain side, have asked that question. Except for conjectures, for thin hypotheses, it has remained unanswered except by the lore of the Indian tribes that once roamed over vale and hill.

 

It is to be expected that a race low in culture and given to superstitious fears to an extent unknown in enlightened communities, should attribute the mighty symbol to the combat of the natural forces with which they were most familiar. Throughout the arid West sustained drought was the worst foe to the Indians, the most feared visitation of the evil powers. When the rains did not come, when the parched plain refused to grant sustenance to man or beast, when the mountain streams dwindled and vanished, when the game disappeared out of the valley into the cooler mountains with their never failing supply of moisture that did not reach the valley, then the natives attributed their distress to the hot breath of the Evil One, to be placated by sacrifices and offerings that he might go away and allow the friendly gods to send the life-giving rain.

 


In the conflict of the natural forces the most poetic of the legends describing the birth of the Arrowhead had its origin. According to this legend, the tribe of the Guachamas, the inhabitants of the "Valley of Plenty," made arrogant and selfish by the abundance of food and game about them, forgot to render the homage due to the Great Father, the giver of water, soil and game. For many summers the Great Father bore the ingratitude of his children in silence. But his patience came to an end. Calling upon the spirit of the Sun, he sent it down into the Valley upon a hot wind that blighted their vegetation, drank their streams and drove out their game until there was great wailing in the tribe.

Famine, pestilence, death and distress visited the valley until the Indians, seeing the heaps of bleached bones growing day by day, humbly prostrated themselves and offered to make any sacrifice to bring about the return of the Great Father's favor.

 


Now, the chief is alleged to have been father to an only daughter, Ne-wah-na, by name, maiden of the new moon---the fairest and most beloved of all tribeswomen. Finally, in answer to his last appeal, a voice floating from out the broad expanse of the skies bore this message: "Give Ne-wah-na as an offering to heaven." Silence fell upon the stricken Indians as their chief, rising above his devotions, slowly went to his wickiup. There he carefully wrapped his daughter in her richest robes, and adorning her with golden trinkets, obedient to the mysterious voice, led her forth, leaving her alone to meet the fiery wrath of the destroyer. When the sacrifice was completed, and Ne-wah-na was consumed, the heavens opened and immediately a white arrow of light shot out and struck down the heat of the monster; others followed, until finally one struck the mountain side and there left its mark. Then was the blessed rain poured from above, the water once again cooling the parched earth and running in the empty beds of the streams. The heat monster writhed in agony under the copious, cooling downpour, until the earth opened to swallow him. As it closed again, streams of boiling water bubbled from the rock crevices, and the famine and pestilence smitten people, drinking deep of the steaming waters, and bathing in them, were healed. Thenceforth the humbled dwellers of the valley lived for generations in peace and plenty at the foot of the arrow-marked mountain.

 

Other legends explaining the origin of the Arrowhead have their sources in the ancient belief of all the wandering races of humanity that a supernatural power would give them a sign to guide them to new and better places of abode. The Cohauilas, once upon a time dwelling in the coast country of what is now San Luis Rey, have a legend of this character.

Being harassed, attacked and surprised constantly by their fiercer neighbors, these peace-loving Indians at last decided upon emigration, upon seeking a new place for their jacales and their herds. Impressive incantations and ceremonial songs of peace were performed under the direction of the chief medicine man. Now, being a gentle people, so the tale runs, they found special favor with the Great Spirit, by whom they were directed to travel westward, and instructed that they would be guided to their new home by a fiery arrow, for which they must be constantly watching.


Mt. of the Arrowhead --- the Most Mysterious Mountain in the World


Accordingly the tribe started upon the journey, and one moonless night, when the camp sentries had been posted with usual injunctions to be watchful, there appeared across the vault of heaven a blazing arrow, which took a course westward, settling upon the mountain, where the shaft was consumed in flame, but the head imbedded [sic] itself, clear-cut in the mountain side. The camp was aroused, and while yet the morning star hung jewel-like in the sky and a faint gleam of light in the east heralded the approach of day, they resumed their journey to the promised land, under the shadow of the mountain, where they located, and lived in peaceful contentment until the coming of the white settler.

A similar legend is attributed to the Mormons who upon command of Brigham Young, in 1851 started out from Salt Lake City to settle at a place where a gigantic arrowhead stood sharply upon the mountainside, the symbol, so, it was said having appeared to the prophet in a dream. As a party composed of the remnants of the Mormon Batallion had seen this symbol three years previous to the starting of the expedition from Salt Lake, the legend apparently was an afterthought manufactured for sentimental reason. Into the same category belongs the legend attributed to the Coahuilas, a tribe of inveterate gamblers who, when harassed by the mischievous mountain spirit who delighted in hurling heavy rocks from his heights upon their huts, sent devasting [sic] floods down the mountain aide, proposed to the Evil Spirit to play a game of cards for the possession of the valley. The Indians, chanting a good luck gambling song, were fast winning, when the Evil One, becoming enraged, seized an ace of spades and dashed it against the mountain aide with such angry force that the mountain opened, receiving him spluttering in its depths, and the sulphurous [sic] hot springs at the mountain's base bear evidence of his continued presence beneath the rocks.

Churches


The religious denominations in San Bernardino are represented by the Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist South, Congregational, Christian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Christian Science, Spiritualists, German Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventists, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

Return to the Table of Contents