- Neglectful Mother. (Cochiti)
Crow had been sitting on the eggs in her nest for many days, and she got
tired of it and flew away. Hawk came by and found nobody on the nest.
Hawk said to herself, "The person who owns this nest must no longer care
for it. What a shame for those poor little eggs! I will sit on them, and
they will be my children." She sat for many days on the eggs, and
finally they began to hatch. Still no Crow came. The little ones all
hatched out and the mother Hawk flew about getting food for them. They
grew bigger and bigger and their wings got strong, and at last it was
time for the mother Hawk to take them off the nest.
After all this while, Crow finally remembered her nest. When she came
back to it she found the eggs hatched and Hawk taking care of her little
"What is it?"
"You must return these little ones you are leading around." "Why?"
"Because they are mine." Hawk said, "Yes, you laid the eggs, but you had
no pity on the poor things. You went off and left them. I came and sat
on the nest and hatched them. When they were hatched, I fed them, and
now I lead them about. They are mine, and I won't return them."
Crow said, "I shall take them back."
"No, you won't!" I worked for them, and for many days I fasted, sitting
there on the eggs. In all that time you didn't come near them. Why is it
now, when I've taken care of them and brought them up, that you want
Crow said to the little ones, "My children, come with me. I am your
But the little ones said they did not know her. "Hawk is our mother." At
last when she couldn't make them come with her, she said, "Very well,
I'll take Hawk to court, and we shall see who has the right to these
So Mother Crow took Mother Hawk before the king of the birds. Eagle said
to Crow, "Why did you leave your nest?" Crow hung her head and had no
answer to that.
But she said, "When I came back to my nest, I found my eggs already
hatched and Hawk taking charge of the little ones. I have come to ask
that Hawk return the children to me."
Eagle said to Mother Hawk, "How did you find this nest of eggs?" "Many
times I went to it and found it empty. No one came for a long time, and
at last I had pity upon the poor little eggs. I said to myself, 'The
mother who made this nest can no longer care for these eggs. I would be
glad to hatch the little ones.' I sat on them and they hatched. Then I
went about getting food for them. I worked hard and brought them up, and
they have grown." Mother Crow interrupted Mother Hawk and said, "But
they're my children. I laid the eggs."
"It's not your turn. We are both asking for justice, and it will be
given to us. Wait till I have spoken."
Eagle said to Mother Hawk, "Is that all?" "Yes, I have worked hard to
raise my two little ones. Just when they were grown, Mother Crow came
and asked to have them back again, but I won't give them back. It is I
who fasted and worked, and they are now mine."
The king of the birds said to Mother Crow, "If you really had pity on
your little ones, why did you leave the nest for so many days? And why
are you demanding to have them now? Mother Hawk is the mother of the
little ones, for she has fasted and hatched them, and flown about
searching for their food. Now they are her children." Mother Crow said
to the king of the birds, "King, you should ask the little ones which
mother they choose to follow. They know enough to know which one to
So the king said to the little ones, "Which mother will you choose?"
Both answered together, "Mother Hawk is our mother. She's all the mother
Crow cried, "No, I'm your only mother!"
The little Crow children said, "In the nest you had no pity on us; you
left us. Mother Hawk hatched us, and she is our mother." So it was
finally settled as the little ones had said: they were the children of
Mother Hawk, who had had pity on them in the nest and brought them up.
Mother Crow began to weep. The king said to her, "Don't cry. It's your
own fault. This is the final decision of the king of the birds." So
Mother Crow lost her children. - Recorded by Ruth Benedict in 1931.