Oban's Myths & Legends
Why Turkey Gobbles (and how Grouse got his neck feathers)
Native American - Cherokee Story
retold by Sanjit
Two teams try to put a small ball made of deer-hide through the other’s goal posts, and players are matched with an opponent from the other team.
Each player scoops up, catches and throws the ball using two sticks made of Hickory wood, each with a loop woven onto the end. They can kick the ball or run with it in their hand, and their opponent has to take it away.
All kinds of tackles are allowed, insults are shouted, and injuries and broken bones can happen. The winning team has to score twelve goals and the noisy crowd goes wild. The Cherokee name for this game is “anetsa,” meaning “little brother of war”.
Long ago animals and birds played the Cherokee ball game too. The players shrieked, cooed and growled at each other and those who watched made as much noise as they could to cheer on their team. Some players had a high opinion of their ball skill and loud voices.
Turkey really liked playing ball and everyone said he was good. But he had a tiny voice and no-one could hear him over the roar of the crowd.
He envied Grouse who made a deep drumming sound when he pulled himself upright and beat his wings in the air.
The next game was in a few days and Turkey was worried. He needed a louder voice to be a better ball player. He went to look for Grouse as soon as the sun rose.
“Hello there, Grouse” said Turkey. “What are you doing today?”
Grouse was strutting around his territory stirring up insects and looking for fruit. “Nothing much, just eating,” he muttered with his beak full.