In May, Tim and I attended a series of book signings and talks in Kansas City, where I spent a majority of my earlier life. I was eagerly looking forward to a combination homecoming and celebration of my new book, filled with friends and new acquaintances.
Before we left, we went to the Inscription Rock Trading Post, to get a few gifts to take with us. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, we shop at Inscription Rock. Not only are its owners, Pan and Jon Pickens, dear friends, but they have developed deep and long relationships with some of the finest Zuni and Navajo artisans in the area.
The Zunis are known throughout the world as fine carvers of fetishes, small stone figures that represent different personal qualities, such as strength, wisdom, loyalty, and health. I wanted something particularly special for our friends Linda and Michael, who were hosting one of my events, and I thought a Zuni fetish would be just the thing.
As I looked at the cases filled with Zuni fetishes, I was immediately drawn to an intricately carved turkey dancer, a tan figure about three inches high in full Turkey Dance costume, including a handful of tiny white-tipped feathers.
I asked Pam to tell us about the carving, and she said that Turkey Dances are performed in the Zuni Pueblo to attract wild turkeys, so their feathers can be used to make prayer sticks. Prayer sticks are ceremoniously placed at different locations around the pueblo, to send energy of peace, healing, and happiness into the world.
The fetish was beautiful, and seemed to want to accompany us to Kansas. We purchased it and Pam carefully wrapped it in many layers of bubble wrap for the long drive to its new home.
We gave the fetish to Linda and Michael the day after the event at their home, and Linda placed it in a prominent place on a kitchen window ledge, a spot where she would see it throughout the day.
A few weeks after we returned to New Mexico, Linda sent me an e-mail with an amazing story. Despite the fact that wild turkeys are unusual in the Kansas City area and are almost never seen in a city, one had appeared in their backyard for two days in a row. She said, “I think its clear that the turkey dancer figure has found his perfect home.”
For my part, I hope the wild turkey that somehow found its way into their backyard will carry the same message of healing, peace, and happiness that is carried by the turkey feathers on the Zuni prayer sticks. I have a feeling that the turkey dancer fetish sitting in Linda’s window will magically help it happen.