Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

The face of Montezuma on the Estrella Mountains

If you've been on the Gila River Indian Community, southwest of the Phoenix area, you have probably looked towards the Estrella Mountains looking for the face of Montezuma. And if you're like me, you've seen it many times. It's a profile of an ancient Indian god would would someday return and release the native people from the tyranny of the oppressors, going back to the time of Spanish rule.

No, I have no idea exactly where the face of Montezuma is supposed to be, except that it's along the edge of the Estrellas. And maybe there isn't just one place. Maybe looking for a place is as meaningless as the name.

If you're puzzled about all of this, even though you live in Phoenix, it's not surprising. Looking west along the Estrella Mountains isn't something most Phoenicians see. But if you're interested, just drive south on 51st Avenue. Keep going south, cross the Salt River, past Laveen, past Komatke, past south Mountain. When 51st Avenue becomes Beltline Road, you're in the right place.

Stop your car and look west. Those are the Estrella Mountains that most people in Phoenix don't even know exist. The range goes mostly north and south, so if you're a neighbor of mine, in the Glendale area, you are just seeing the northern edge.

Turn off the engine of your car. Stop talking. Put away your phone. Stand there and look up. Don't worry about GPS, or anything like that. When you are ready, you will see the face of Montezuma.

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