The Turtle and the Sky BowlThe Turtle and the Sky Bowl
Darkness had lasted too
long, and all the other
forest animals knew it
was Turtle's fault. Long
ago, before Turtle had
her hard shell, in order to
prove her bravery to the
others, Turtle had
volunteered for one of the
most important and
dangerous jobs of the
Her duty was to bring theHer duty was to bring the
Sky Bowl, filled withSky Bowl, filled with
yellow corn, up to the cliffyellow corn, up to the cliff
top each morning beforetop each morning before
Sun's first light turned theSun's first light turned the
hillside red.hillside red.
She would scatter the cornShe would scatter the corn
over the earth, and Sun,over the earth, and Sun,
knowing he was needed,knowing he was needed,
would rise.would rise.
This morning, though, as
Turtle discovered when she
awoke, the Sky Bowl had
In its place lay a single
feather, long curved, and
Vulture lived in the crags far to
the west where Sun set. He always
complained about how bright the
days were and how short the
nights. Vulture had taken the
Since the Sky Bowl was her
responsibility, Turtle set off
through the forest toward the
west. She worried about how she
would get the bowl back because
the crags were too high and steep
for her to climb.
As she emerged into a shadowy
clearing, Turtle saw Grizzly,
grumbling and rolling as she slept.
"Grizzly," she called to the bear,
"I've seen how fast and strong you
are and how well you climb. Come
help me get the Sky Bowl back from
Vulture so Sun can rise."
"No," Grizzly grumbled, her
eyelids heavy. "I have to
protect my cubs in the dark."
Turtle heard the little barks
and pants of the cubs behind
Turtle left Grizzly and
continued on. Finally, she
broke through the trees.
At the edge of the wilderness, Moon's cool, hard
light fell on Turtle and she shivered. She saw the
crags now, their chalky faces rising slowly off the
Just then Eagle
glided down over
the foothills above
Help me!" Turtle
Eagle turned his hard, steel-gray eyes on Turtle. "What
do you want?!" Eagle's voice whistled down like an
arrow shooting through the air.
"You can fly. Soar up to Vulture's nook and get the
Sky Bowl back so Sun can rise."
"I'm too hungry," said Eagle. "I've been flying for
hours, trying to catch something. I can't see well in the
Turtle turned away, knowing the job was hers alone.
She went to the crag, looking up, up, up the chalky stone
awash in Moon's cold light. Vulture's nook sat up there,
where the rock brushed against the sky.
Turtle tried to climb the steep slope, but slipped back
Turtle felt thirsty and needed to think, so she went and
sat by the cool mountain stream flowing down out of the
Moon's roundness floated above,
reflected in the water, making the
stream's bubbles and waves gleam.
As Turtle sipped the water she
stared at Moon, noticing how
beautiful she was. She'd never seen
Moon for so long before, and she
no longer feared her.
Suddenly, from deep within the
darkness came Moon’s voice,
whispering softly, "You have
shown your bravery well, Turtle.
Now go to Vulture and tell him
you want the sky bowl back."
And as Moon spoke, moonbeams
fell to earth like night rain, and
cascaded silently across Turtle’s
back, forming a hard shell around
Turtle wasn't certain how her new shell could help her get the
Sky Bowl back, but she would try.
Turtle went to Vulture's crag, and called up to him.
"Hey, Vulture! Give back the Sky Bowl!"
"Or what?" Vulture asked, laughing. "Go home before I rip
you apart with my talons." He flew from the nook down
toward Turtle, carrying the bowl in his beak and teasing her
Turtle stood firm.
Vulture descended suddenly, trying to claw Turtle with
his sharp talons. He hit the hard shell instead, barely
making a scratch.
Angry, he pecked at Turtle, forgetting he held the bowl.
His beak struck the shell hard and bent at an angle,
making him drop the bowl.
Turtle, still unhurt, grabbed it, and retreated back into her
shell. Vulture scratched at the shell for a while, then gave
up and flew off.
That was how Turtle earned her shellThat was how Turtle earned her shell
and Vulture got his crooked beak.and Vulture got his crooked beak.
Sun came back the next morning, but fromSun came back the next morning, but from
then on he would shine only half the day,then on he would shine only half the day,
leaving the night to Moon and darkness soleaving the night to Moon and darkness so
that we might never again forget him.that we might never again forget him.