The catholic church of Tumacacori Mission, which dates back to the eighteenth century and is situated about 50 miles south of Tuscon, Arizona, used to be operated by Spanish descendants. These natives from Spain who moved into the area and built the church had strong intentions of converting the American Indian natives, also known as Opata and Papogo Indians, to Christianity.
The Mining of the Lost Opata Mine
In the year 1766, a huge discovery of silver was made very close to the church. The Spaniards’ intentions altered a little as now they not only wanted the Indians to convert to Christianity but also wanted them to work the silver in various mines around the area. As compared to the rest of the mines, there was one mine that the Indians were specifically drawn to.
As this mine was extremely productive, the missionaries allowed the Indians to continue mining there. This mine was known as the Opata mine. Towards the back of this mine there was a huge covered space which was used for the storage of all the silver produced.
Sacrificing the Mayo Indian Princess
Little did the Spaniards know, that even after their tremendous efforts of converting the Indians to Christianity, the Opata’s continued to practice their own rituals in the same room that was used for storing the silver. However, it seemed that the Indians were somewhat influenced by the teachings of the missionaries, as when they heard about the wanderings of a Mayo Indian princess alone in the desert, they were sure of her being the next Virgin Mary.
As a result of their strong faith, the Indians abducted the princess and kept her in captivity tied around the huge heap of silver behind the Opata Mine. They insisted her to marry their chief in order to provide him with his savior child. However, to their dismay, the princess refused to do so and preferred dying rather than marrying the chief. Out of anger, it was decided by the Chief and the Indians that they would sacrifice the princess to the gods they believed in.
The princess’ hands were cut and were rubbed with poison. They told her that as soon as the sun rays fell on her poisoned wound, she would die. As soon as the sun rays beamed into the room, the men began to dance and sing around the princess as a part of their ritual. On hearing the loud noise coming from the room, one of the Spanish men came to inspect the place and was disturbed to see the dead princess and the Indians celebrating around her.
Horrified by the acts of the Opata Indians, the Spaniards forced the Indians out and set the entrance to the mine on fire with the dead body of the princess and the silver still inside. The mine was sealed forever.
It is said that one may still find the remains of the princess along with the bulk of silver abandoned at the Lost Opata Mine. The mine is thought to be located somewhere close to the Tumacacori Mission and might now be a part of the Tumacacori National Park.