Nedra Emery was a teacher on the Navajo Nation for many years. She was assisted by Perry Cadman in recording and transcribing traditional Navajo stories. This bilingual Navajo/English story was first published in 1955 in A Survey of Navajo Nursery Tales and Songs Written in Navajo with English Interpretations. She has written two children’s’ picture books titled Turkey and Giant and Day and Night.
When Turkey goes to the lake for a drink, she is captured by Gray Giant and carried to the top of a high cliff. Turkey’s life is in peril and it appears she has no chance of escape … unless the horned toad she meets truly knows the one thing Gray Giant fears.
In this traditional Navajo/English folktale, the animals of the day and the animals of the night gather to play the first shoe game. The outcome of this game will determine the length of the day and the night.
“They put moccasins in a row. One side would hide a yucca ball in the toe of one of the moccasins. The other side would guess which moccasin had the ball in it.”
The game lasts many hours, and even Giant, who is a good guesser, is unable to find the ball.