1965: The Girl Who Took Care of the Turkeys


The Girl Who Took Care of the Turkeys

Now we take it up.
(audience)Ye------s indeed.
There were villagers at the Middle Place

a girl
had her home 
at Wind Place
where she kept a flock of turkeys.
At the Middle Place they were having a Yaaya Dance.
They were having a Yaaya Dance, and
during the first day
this girl
drawn to the dance. 
She stayed
with her turkeys 
taking are of them. 
That's the way
she lived:
it seems
she didn't go to the dance on the FIRST day, that day
she fed her turkeys, that's the way
they lived
and so
the dance went on
and she could hear the drum.
When she spoke to her turkeys about this, they said
“If you went
it wouldn't turn out well: who would take tare of us?" her 
        turkeys told her.
She listened to them and they slept through the night.
Then it was the second day
of the dance 
and night came. 
That night 
with the Yaaya Dance half over
she spoke to her big tom turkey:

"My father-child, if they're going to do it again tomorrow 
why can't I go?” she said. “Well
if you went, it wouldn't turn out well.”
So he told her. “Well then
I mustn't go.”
So the girl said, and they slept through the night. 
They slept through the night, and the next day 
was a nice warm day. and
again she heard the drum over there.
Then she
went around feeding her turkeys, and
when it was the middle of the day, she asked again, right at 
(tight) “If you
went, it wouldn't turn out well.
There's no point in going:
let the dance be, you don't need to go, and our
lives depend on your thoughtfulness," the turkeys told her.
“Well then, that's the way it will be,” she said, and 
she listened to them
But around sunset the drum could be heard, and she was 
        getting more anxious to go.
She went up on her roof and she could see the crowd of 
It was the third day of the dance.
That night she asked the same one she'd asked before 
and he told her, “Well, if you
must go

then you must dress well.
must go around 
just four times: 
you must THINK OF US," he told her.
“You must think of us, for if
you stay all afternoon, until sunset
then it won't turn out well for you," he told her. "Well
well, I'll certainly do as you say: why should I stay there
for a long time?
They get started early and I'll
do as you say," she told her
tom turkey.
“Let's get some rest," they said and they went to sleep, but 
        the girl JUST COULDN'T GET TO SLEEP.
she got up and built a fire in the fireplace then
she made some yucca suds
She washed her body all over and then went back to bed, 
        but she couldn't sleep, she was so anxious, she was
about going to the dance, she was so excited. She passed 
        the night. 
the sun was shining, and
she went among her turkeys and spread their feed.
When she had fed them she said, “My
fathers, my children, I'm
to the Middle Place.
I'm going to the dance," she said. "Be on your way, but 
        think of us.
they'll start when you get to those
tall weeds, so
you'll get to the dance in plenty of time,” so
her children told her. “Then that's the way it will be,” she said, 
        and she LEFT. (pained) It was getting so hot.
It was so hot when
she entered the village.
They noticed her then.
They noticed her when she came up.
She went to where
Rat Place is today, and
when she entered the plaza, the dance directors noticed her.
Then they asked her to dance.
She went down and danced, and she didn't 
didn't think about her children.
Finally it was midday, and when midday came she was just 
        awa-----y until
it was late, the time when the shadows are very long.
The turkeys said “Tisshomahha! our mother, our child
doesn't know who's right.”
"Well then, I must GO
and I'll just warn her and come right back 
and whether she hears me or not, we'll 

before she gets here,” the tom turkey said and 
He flew away.
He flew along until he came to
where they were dancing, and there
he glided down to the Priest Kiva and perched on the top 
        crosspiece of the ladder, then he sang:
                        A TOK TOK KYANA
                          LI     LI     LI                        A TOK TOK
       HE FLEW BACK to the place
where they were penned, and
the girl ran all the way back.
When she got to the place where they were penned, they 
        sang again, they sang and FLEW AWAY, GOING ON
until they came to what is now Turkey Tracks, and they 
        glided down there.
When they glided down they stood there and made their 
WHEN SHE CAME NEAR they all went away
and she couldn't catch up with them.
Long ago, this was lived. That's why there's a place called 
        Turkey Tracks. That's a----ll the word was short.

—Narrated by Walter Sanchez on January 20, 1965 and translated from the Zuni by Dennis Tedlock in Finding the Center: The Art of the Zuni Storyteller.

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