The South Corner of Time hopi navajo papago yaqui tribal literature

Acknowledgements Introduction
Hopi Literature
Navajo Literature
Papago Literature
Yaqui Literature
Native American Literature: Other Sources


Ku Wikit

as told by
Mrs. Carmen Garci

A long time ago, among the Yaquis, there lived a bird who was poor. He was so poor, in fact, that he wore the shabbiest, drabbest coat of feathers. Now, being a vain bird, he was ashamed to show himself before anyone, so he kept to himself and knew no one. But, he used to look at the other birds, each with colorful feathers, and he was very jealous of them.

One day he thought of something. He began to pluck out his feathers, one by one, painful though it was. At last there he stood, a poor, naked little bird, suffering from the cold weather. Owl was passing by, and Ku Wikit called to him, "My brother, please to do me a favor, and I will help you as long as I live. Help me to dress myself by lending me a few feathers of yours, even if only part of my body is covered. I am suffering from the cold."

"Well," the owl answered him, "Worry no more about your coat of feathers. I will lend you some, and I shall ask also that the other birds lend you one feather apiece. Thus you may clothe your entire body." "Gracias, you are good," said Ku Wikit to

the Owl. "And when I grow many more feathers, I shall return a feather to each one who has lent me one."

That is how the Owl sent a messenger all around to the birds, asking them to please come to a council early the next morning. There was much talk, and then all wanted to see Ku Wikit. At their request, Ku Wikit presented himself, but with much shame at his nakedness.

Upon seeing him, everyone felt very sorry for him. And everyone gave him one feather, until his coat of feathers was complete.

After giving them thanks, Ku Wikit left to take a look at himself in a spring filled with crystal-clear water. Here is where many birds with beautiful plumage often came to visit and admire themselves. When Ku Wikit arrived, all surrounded him in admiration, exclaiming at his beautiful, unusual plumage. He had great splashes of colors - yellow, red, blue - the colors of the rainbow, it looked like. No one recognized him as the naked, poor bird. They now called him the bird of a thousand colors.

Ku Wikit rushed to look at himself, and they were right - he was more beautiful than any other! Of course, this didn't help his vanity any. In fact, he became so conceited, constantly talking and talking about his looks, and admiring himself, that no one could stand him and didn't want to be near him. And to this day, Ku Wikit, the parrot, is a non-stop talker that people want to shut up. And he's still admiring his coat of a thousand colors.

As printed in Larry Evers, ed. The South Corner of Time. Tucson, Ariz.: The University of Arizona Press, ©1980, p. 206.
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