Marriage: The Girl and the Turkeys (end)

The Zuni Mountains that you will read about here are located in northwestern New Mexico, the state which is home to the Zuni, one of the Pueblo peoples. You can read more about the Zuni at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Native American Marriage Tales unit. Story source: Tales of the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1929).

The Girl and the Turkeys (end)

But, alas! in the excess of her enjoyment, she thought not of her Turkeys, or, if she thought of them, she said to herself, "How is this, that I should go away from the most precious consideration to my flock of gobbling Turkeys? I will stay a while longer, and just before the sun sets I will run back to them, that these people may not see who I am, and that I may have the joy of hearing them talk day after day and wonder who the girl was who joined in their dance."

So the time sped on, and another dance was called, and another, and never a moment did the people let her rest, but they would have her in every dance as they moved around the musicians and the altar in the center of the plaza.

At last the sun set, and the dance was well-nigh over, when suddenly breaking away, the girl ran out, and, being swift of foot — more so than most of the people of her village — she sped up the river path before any one could follow the course she had taken.

Meantime, as it grew late, the Turkeys began to wonder and wonder that their maiden mother did not return to them. At last a gray old Gobbler mournfully exclaimed, "It is as we might have expected. She has forgotten us; therefore is she not worthy of better things than those she has been accustomed to. Let us go forth to the mountains and endure no more of this irksome captivity, inasmuch as we may no longer think our maiden mother as good and true as once we thought her."

So, calling and calling to one another in loud voices, they trooped out of their cage and ran up toward the Cañon of the Cottonwoods, and then round behind Thunder Mountain, through the Gateway of Zuñi, and so on up the valley.

All breathless, the maiden arrived at the open wicket and looked in. Behold, not a Turkey was there! Trailing them, she ran and she ran up the valley to overtake them, but they were far ahead, and it was only after a long time that she came within the sound of their voices, and then, redoubling her speed, well-nigh overtook them, when she heard them singing this song:

K'yaanaa, to! to!
K'yaanaa, to! to!
    Ye ye!
K'yaanaa, to! to!
K'yaanaa, to! to!
    Yee huli huli!

Hon awen Tsita
Itiwanakwïn
    Otakyaan aaa kyaa;
Lesna Akyaaa
Shoya-k'oskwi
Teyäthltokwïn
    Hon aawani!

Ye yee huli huli,
Tot-tot, tot-tot, tot-tot,
    Huli huli!

Up the river, to! to!
Up the river, to! to!
    Sing ye ye!
Up the river, to! to!
Up the river, to! to!
    Sing ye huli huli!

Oh, our maiden mother
To the middle place
    To dance went away;
Therefore as she lingers,
To the Cañon Mesa
And the plains above it
    We all run away!

Sing ye ye huli huli,
Tot-tot, tot-tot, tot-tot,
    Huli huli!
Tot-tot, tot-tot, tot-tot,
    Huli huli!

Hearing this, the maiden called to her Turkeys — called and called in vain. They only quickened their steps, spreading their wings to help them along, singing the song over and over until, indeed, they came to the base of the Cañon Mesa, at the borders of the Zuñi Mountains. Then singing once more their song in full chorus, they spread wide their wings, and thlakwa-a-a, thlakwa-a-a, they fluttered away over the plains above.

The poor Turkey girl threw her hands up and looked down at her dress. With dust and sweat, behold! it was changed to what it had been, and she was the same poor Turkey girl that she was before. Weary, grieving, and despairing, she returned to Mátsaki.

Thus it was in the days of the ancients. Therefore, where you see the rocks leading up to the top of Cañon Mesa, there are the tracks of turkeys and other figures to be seen. The latter are the song that the Turkeys sang, graven in the rocks, and all over the plains along the borders of Zuñi Mountains since that day turkeys have been more abundant than in any other place.

After all, the gods dispose of men according as men are fitted, and if the poor be poor in heart and spirit as well as in appearance, how will they be aught but poor to the end of their days?

Thus shortens my story.



(700 words)




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