Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Return of the Eagles.(New Mexico & The West)

Byline: Story by Leslie Linthicum * Photos by Richard Pipes Of the Journal

Aviary gives Zuni Pueblo the feathers necessary to carry on long traditions

ZUNI PUEBLO Three golden eagles perch 18 feet above the ground, their hazel eyes as big as dimes, staring raptly at the drip, drip, drip of melting snow.

Startled by footsteps in the gravel, one of the eagles dives off her perch, opens her wings to their 5-foot span and glides 100 feet to another high ledge. The motion is glorious and formidable and it is a welcome sight.

After a 50-year absence from Zuni Pueblo, k'ya k'yali are back.

For as long as anyone can remember, eagles known as k'ya k'yali in the Zuni language have been at the heart of pueblo life.

Their feathers are so much a part of religious tradition that Zuni families, as late as the 1940s and 1950s, kept bald and golden eagles in latilla cages in the village and plucked their feathers for use in prayer sticks, headdresses, dance garments and other traditional undertakings. …

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