Your Feathers are just FINE: a lesson in self-love


It was a long, long time ago when the earth was very young. Trees and flowers were growing everywhere; insects and animals roamed freely. One morning the good twin looked around at was his mother had become and smiled; he saw that his efforts were honourable.

He especially enjoyed watching the birds fly and listening to their songs. But their naked bodies and long legs were not as beautiful as their songs. So before the sun had set, he had made feathered suits to cover them of every size and colour.

That night, as the birds hid their heads under their naked wings, their creator spoke to them and told them about the feathered suits he had made for them and where the birds could find these suits.

Photo by Chris F on

A council was called the next day by the birds. They chose Waniheyontaks, the Turkey Buzzard, to get the suits. He could fly over a long trail and not be tired; He could eat the dead things to nourish his flight and not be distracted by the hunt for food.

The birds told him that if he would go, he might have the first choice of the suits of feathers, but he must try on no suit more than once.

Turkey Buzzard promised and set out toward the setting sun. Twice the sunset and three times, it rose before he found the feathered suits. There were many of them, and they were gorgeous. He could not make up his mind which one he would like best to wear.

Then he remembered that he could only try on each suit of feathers once.


The feathers of the first suit were too long. The next suit shone too bright. So he went from one suit to another, trying on and taking off. Always he had some new fault to find.

At last, there was, but one suit left. It was not pretty. It was a plain, dull colour-and very short of feathers at the neck and head. He did not like it. Moreover, it did not fit him well: it was cut too low in the neck.

Waniheyontaks thought it was the homeliest suit of all. But it was the last suit, and he would not dishonour himself by breaking his promise.

Then Waniheyontaks gathered up the suits and flew back to the birding lodge. He still wore the plain, dull-coloured suit.

The birds again called a council. Each bird was allowed to select a suit from those that Waniheyontaks had brought.

Then the birds in their beautiful feathered suits began to walk and fly about the Turkey Buzzard and make fun of his plain, dull dress.

Missy Dunnaway

But Waniheyontaks held his head high as he walked proudly about among the birds. First, he looked at their beautiful suits. Then, after a time, he spoke.

“I do not want your suits. I had my pick of them all. I chose the one that suits me best.”

Adapted from Erminie Smith’s Myths of the Iroquois. 


Project Gutenberg Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers [1917]