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p. 59

The Man Who Became a Buzzard

NEAR the pueblo of Bacum there once lived a Yaqui called Malon Yeka, which means Prairie Dog Nose. He was a man with deep and profound desires to know much and have many things within his power. He wanted to have all sorts of things, without working. He had a wife and a number of children. However, he was lazy. He wanted everything to come to him by miracle. Also, he possessed a number of strange ideas. Sometimes he would have the desire to travel underground, and he dreamed of subterranean passages which were very dark. Other times he awoke with the desire to fly like the birds.

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One day he took a little cottonwood bench and went off to sit in the shade of a tree near his hut. Seated there with a hand on his right hip, he watched many birds fly about. Among them were some buzzards, vultures, and crows. "Thus, thus I should like to fly," said Malon Yeka.

Suddenly a buzzard came down close to him and said, "What is it that you are thinking about?"

"Almost nothing," answered Malon Yeka. "I was wishing I could be a buzzard like you, and could fly as high as you and see as far as you."

"Well, I am going to give you your wish," said the buzzard, taking off his plumage and wings as if they were a little house. He handed them to the man and said, "Now give me your shirt and pants. We will exchange places for six days. You will become a buzzard so that you may go high against the wind to wherever you desire, and I will stay here in your place.

"It suits me," said Malon Yeka.

"Listen well to me," said the buzzard. "The life of a buzzard is very hard. There are days when there is nothing to cat. Buzzard food is not sure thing. Sometimes, if there should be some dead animal, you will have plenty. But between times you will suffer much hunger."

Then they parted. The buzzard became a man and the man became a buzzard.

The buzzard, who was now a man, was not accustomed to walking. He went about laboriously, giving little hops because he did not know how to take normal steps like a man. That night he ate the food they served him. Then he went to bed, close to the man's wife. She could not sleep the whole night long because of the buzzard

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smell. He smelled of dead horse. During the daytime everyone looked with surprise upon his mode of walking.

The man who was now a buzzard did not have any time to fly as he had wished. He hopped about from branch to branch, hoping to find some dead animal. At night he arrived at a ranch where they were making cheese. He was very hungry. He flew down to the house and went close to where they were making cheese. A little girl said, "Look at this clean buzzard! I think he is a pet from some other house. I believe they must have beaten him and he ran over here. Give the poor little one something to eat."

But they would not give him anything.

The man who was a buzzard went away, hopping. He was too weak from hunger to fly.

When the six days had passed, the real buzzard presented himself to the man who gave him back his plumage and his thanks, saying, "I no longer wish to be a buzzard, for I know what hunger is."

Thus they took leave of one another. The bird flew off and the man returned to his house, his desires satisfied. Never again did he wish to be a buzzard.

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