Sacred Texts  Native American  Southwest  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 28

The Ku Bird

AMONG the Yaquis there was once a bird who, from birth, was very poor. So poor was this little one that he had not one single feather on his whole body. Often he sighed, especially in the winter time, because of his lack of protecting feathers. Many years passed, until one day he spoke to the Owl, saying,

"My brother, do me a favor and I will help you as long as I live. Help me to dress myself by lending me just a few of your feathers, even if they should cover only a part of my body. With the cold weather, I suffer."

And the Owl answered him. "Have no worry about my helping you. I am going to ask all the birds to lend you one feather. In that way, you may clothe your whole body."

"You speak well," said the Ku Bird to the Owl. "When I have many feathers, I shall return a feather to each who lent me one."

"Good," said the Owl, "I shall send messengers to all the birds both large and small, to every single bird, in order that not one shall fail to attend the council. By early tomorrow morning we shall all be gathered to consider the matter of your clothes."

"Many, many thanks," answered the Ku Bird.

"Good-by for a while," said the Owl. And he went away to make arrangements with the other birds.

p. 29

Immediately they all wanted to see Ku Bird. At their petition, although with great shame, he presented himself.

Everyone was very sorry for him. And each bird presented him with one feather. Everyone contributed until Ku's costume, was complete.

After thanking them all, Ku said, "To brother Owl I shall return all of the loaned feathers. He will return them to each of you in one year."

A few days later the Ku Bird visited a spring filled with crystal-clear water. Here, many birds with beautiful plumes often came to visit. When the Ku Bird arrived all the birds surrounded him and looked at him in admiration and joy. They believed that he was a prince, and all rendered him homage. They did not recognize him beneath his beautiful, unusual plumage. He looked like a garden of flowers. Some called him the bird of a thousand colors, for he was wonderfully colorful with all his many feathers.

But within a year Ku was lost completely. He was never again seen, although all the birds searched for him, even in distant regions. Never again did he appear.

To this day, the Owl is still hunting for him. He searches and he calls. That is why Owl sings: "Ku, Ku, Ku, Ku," nothing more. He is not able to say Ku Bird, but he can sing "Ku Ku Ku."

Many centuries have passed and no one has ever heard anything about Ku. It is said that he is enchanted, that he now dwells in a waterhole which lies west of Potam near the sea. Yaquis say they have been there and heard him singing.

Ku never paid for his shirt, the Ku Bird, the bird of a thousand colors. So ends the tale.

Next: The Wise Deer