Many years ago the Apache rode free across the valleys and mountains of southwestern United States, including what is now Arizona. The land, like the Apache, was rough but noble. Sunset mountains cut across miles of desert sands. Only the hardiest plants survived in the harsh conditions found on the faces of these towering rocky cliffs. The mountains and surrounding desert landscape kept the Apache safe from enemies far longer than other tribes who had settled in more fertile, and far more open areas. In the end, however, encroachers came searching for the precious metals contained within the mountain rock and the Apache way of life was destroyed.
The Apache fought fiercely to defend their homes and families. They maintained their strong fighting spirit even though the odds were against them. Small groups of Apache warriors made life miserable for their enemies, hoping to drive the intruders away. They raided campsites, stealing horses and cattle. They ambushed supply caravans, taking food and weapons for their own use. They attacked when least expected, catching their enemies off guard. For awhile tactics of the Apache warriors worked, but the lure of gold and silver proved too strong. The men, with no regard for the Apache or his land, were determined to establish their settlements and seek their fortunes in the mountains. Finally, a large cavalry unit was sent out to hunt down the Apache warriors.
A warrior party of seventy-five Apache galloped to the top of a pink-hued mountain, chased closely behind by the cavalry. The warriors wheeled their horses around, realizing they were trapped. Behind them, the sheer face of the mountain plummeted hundreds of feet to the desert floor. In front of them, hundreds of cavalry officers circled, guns in hand. At a signal from their leader, the officers fired. In the first round of shots, fifty Apache died. The remaining twenty five warriors were trapped and faced death at the hands of their enemies. These men knew there was no way out. Rather than be killed by the enemy, the remaining Apache warriors spun their horses around and leaped over the edge of the mountain.
When the Apache women and children discovered their fathers, husbands, and sons dead at the bottom of the cliff, their tears fell. Each tear drop, as it hit the hard, dry earth, turned to black stone. They mourned the death of their warriors. They mourned the loss of their fighting spirit. They mourned the life they had carved in the Arizona desert. Soon the ground at the bottom of the mountain, once bleached white from the searing sun, was blackened by Apache tears.
It is said that a person who finds one of these tears beneath Apache Leap Mountain will never need to cry again, for the Apache women cried tears for all who mourn. These beautiful translucent gemstones are now known as Apache Tears Good Luck Stones.