Manataka American Indian Council

Proudly Presents







Goodnight Gaga!

By Claire Dunphy, Bali 2014



Gaga lives in a bamboo house.  It stands at the edge of a deep jungle ravine.


Many kinds of plants, trees and animals live there. Every night after supper Gaga climbs the stairs to her porch overlooking the jungle. But first she looks up to see the mice waiting in the ceiling of the kitchen where she is standing now. She goes to the cookie jar and takes out a cookie which she leaves on the counter.  Then she turns off the kitchen light and closes the door, knowing the mice will come down for their cookie right away.


As she starts climbing the stairs to the porch she looks into the open sitting area below. She is checking to see if her two dogs are there.  And they are.  Bintang the white dog is sleeping on her back.  She is on top  of a big  green pillow. Hitam the black dog is also asleep on his back. He is on a yellow pillow and his mouth is open. Gaga says “Goodnight you two.”  Bintang opens one eye for a second and it looks like she might be smiling.


On the porch Gaga sits down at a round table with a big blue umbrella in the middle.  She looks at the mountains in the distance and

thinks they look like a herd of very large elephants walking across the horizon.  Wait a minute, maybe they look more like a pod of

giant whales swimming in a green sea. But they are mountains and the sun is setting behind them now.


As the sun goes down, the clouds around the mountains light up in many bright colors. It’s beautiful.


Now the jungle begins to sing. So many insects and frogs are calling to each other.  The wasps who live in the big nest above the blue

umbrella are circling around. They want to be sure their nest is safe before they go in for the night.


When they are all inside, they hum together before going to sleep.  Gaga likes to hum along too.


It’s getting dark now. The candle on the table is the only light except for the distant glow from a  far away city. But for one or two late songs, the birds are quiet.  They are ready to sleep.


Gaga watches the forest. She is waiting for fireflies.  Here they come one by one from dark pockets between branches of the jungle trees. Now the stars are getting bright.  Gaga thinks fireflies are like stars in the forest, and stars are like fireflies in the sky. She watches them all glow and twinkle around her.


Finally with a sigh she blows out the candle on the table and goes to her room. She gets into her bed which is surrounded by a white mosquito net.


Gaga thinks she looks like a fat caterpillar wrapped in its cocoon.  Maybe I’ll be a beautiful butterfly when I wake up in the morning she laughs.


As she turns out her light, two tree frogs who live in the bamboo walls of her room and a lizard who lives in the ceiling, announce with burps and chatters that they are now awake and ready to hunt for insects.  Happy hunting my friends Gaga says.


Then, as she closes her eyes she hears the wings of a large bird who sometimes rests on the roof above her head.  Perhaps it’s an owl.   Well, good night whoever you are she murmurs, then smiles, thinking how nice it is to sleep by the jungle.


Gaga's White Owl

By Claire Dunphy, Bali 2014


Most mornings when the first pink light of day touches the mountain tops, you can hear Gaga sing a little song of welcome to the new day.

Then you will hear, “Please just give me a moment for a sip of coffee.” Then, What a good owl, what a very good owl you are!” She is speaking to Yanpu, the young white owl who is living with her now and who is swallowing a big piece of mouse. Gaga prefers cinnamon buns for her breakfast but they enjoy eating together nevertheless.

Yanpu was hatched high in a beautiful fern nest in the jungle ravine near Gaga’s house. Many people noticed because Yanpu’s mother, a tall white owl with black eye feathers, was standing in it. Big white owls are seldom seen in the green jungle of Bali!

Some excited children ran to Gaga’s house and said there was an egg in the nest, “an egg as big as your head.” Gaga got her binoculars and said “let’s take a look,” but what she saw was not an egg. “It’s a nestling, an owlet!” she said.

Everyone in the village was pleased because this occured at the beginning of a special festival in Bali when only good things happen for 10 days. They all thought, “O, what a beautiful surprise, what a special gift!” But I am sad to tell you that all this time there was a very greedy man watching and waiting for a chance to steal the young owl. And early one
morning he did. He dropped down a very steep cliff, holding on to one tree after another until he reached the tree with the nest. Then he climbed it until he could grab the baby bird. But now, I am happy to tell you that people planting corn in a field above the jungle, saw him. Gaga could hear them yelling, “Stop, stop that!!” Her neighbors heard it too. They all ran to the village police and the priests and the head of the village. In no time at all these men raided the house of the thief and captured the baby. Usually these men look very kindly but this morning they looked
quite fierce when they arrived at Gaga’s garden. The village president, Pak Klion, was holding the little white owl in his two big hands and he said,“

We are sorry Gaga, the thief wanted to sell this baby even though he knows it is against the law to take baby birds from the nest.

He will try to do it again so we are asking you to take care of it.” It was all a bit embarrassing because Gaga started to cry the second she saw the owlet with its vest of white down, its perky little ear feathers and big dark eyes. She took it in her arms and kissed it!

Pak Klion asked, “what is its name?” Gaga replied, “Yanpu, because that is short for the name of our village.”

Everyone smiled and said they would help and they have!

At the moment Gaga has been inspired by Yanpu to write a small booklet called “The Laws of Yanpu.”

It says things like, “Never take baby birds from the nest because they haven’t learned how to find food yet,” “Do not poison mice or other small animals because owls eat them and get sick,” and “If you have to cut down a tree, check for nests and wait until little birds have grown up,” and “If you need to cut down a tree, please plant two more because we all need trees.” Yanpu and Gaga hope this booklet will be useful.

Even though she is not an owl, Gaga tries to be a good mother to Yanpu. She scratches his beak and behind his head and feeds him by hand even though his food is a bit icky. She sings to him every night and covers his cage with blankets to keep him warm. She always tells him that she loves him. When she hears an owl in the jungle she answers with Whoo-­‐whoo because it might be Yanpu’s real mother. Gaga wants her to know that Yanpu is safe.

This morning, after preparing crickets for Yanpu’s breakfast, she looked in the mirror and suddenly thought, “Maybe I’m beginning to look a little bit like an owl! Hmmmmmm! That would be nice!”


A White Owl Was Carried Into My Life



Gaga has Chickens

By Claire Dunphy, Bali 2014


Gaga has chickens.  There are seven, three roosters and four hens.  They were given to Gaga by her neighbors who are farmers. “We heard you’d like to have fresh eggs,”  they said. “ Yes indeed thank you” says Gaga “but where will I keep these chickens?” “Don’t worry” they say, “if you give them a little food every day they’ll stay nearby. Later on you can find their eggs.”


Gaga is happy to see the chickens coming to her gate every day for food. But now she is getting tired of hunting around her land every time she wants an egg for breakfast or cake and cookie recipes.  Sometimes she finds an egg under the big leaf of a pumpkin vine, or in a flower pot or in between the peanut plants.


One morning she looks at her chickens and says,”I am going to build a nice house for you and you can lay your eggs there!”  The neighbors smile. They say “These chickens cannot lay eggs in a house. They are too wild.”  But Gaga decides to build the house  anyway. “Let’s try” she says.


It‘s a bamboo house that looks a little bit like Gaga’s house. It has two floors with a ramp so the chickens can go up and down. Boxes for nesting are above and  food trays  and water are below.  It is enclosed by strong blue net. And it looks nice. Both floors are covered with tall dry grass from the rice field.  It’s called somi and the chickens really like it! Soon some eggs are found in the nesting boxes. Everyone is so surprised and happy.  Gaga is proud of her chickens and herself!


Pak Putih, the biggest rooster, is the boss.  Every morning when Gaga opens the door of the chicken house, he leads the others out into the fields to look for insects and worms. The chickens like being together. Sometimes they sit side by side in a patch of dusty earth and sometimes they are all up in a tree.  Gaga wonders where she will see them next!


Putih Dua is the next biggest rooster and guards the others.  Chicklet is the smallest.  He has only one feather in his tail and his middle toes are crooked.  Sometimes Gaga feeds him corn by hand and says “I  wuv my wittle Chickawet” because really, he needs a bit of love. He doesn’t have a big rooster voice yet just gives a loud squeak.


One hen is named “Blender.” Her feathers go every whichway and it looks like she might have fallen into a blender.  Another is named “Chub.” She is a fat, golden hen with a lovely fan shaped tail.  "Dotty” is a black hen with white dots on her feathers.  “Glamour Girl” is slender, and tailless with iridescent green feathers. If the chicken world had fashion models, she would be one of them.


“What a lovely family you are” says Gaga.  But Gaga knows they sometimes disagree and fight just like other families. Only this morning when Gaga opened the door to the chicken house she saw Chub, Dotty and Blender sitting on top of each other in the same nest box!  They were squashed together, pushing and shoving. “Now now girls this will not do. There are enough boxes for all of you!” She had to separate them and they were not cooperative.


In the evening Gaga prepares a bowl of rice, corn and organic meal in her kitchen. Then she starts walking toward the chicken house

singing “curra curra ri ry ro ri ry ri ro curra curraaaaa.”   O my those chickens come running and very quickly there is a parade with Gaga at the head leading them all to their house.  She puts the food into the feeding trays and when all the chickens are  inside, she

closes the door and says, “Goodnight dear chickens. Thank you for your delicious eggs and all the times you make me smile!” As

she walks back to her own house, Gaga wonders, “what do chickens dream about?” “Maybe they dream they are flying like eagles

or laying eggs with colorful stripes or…hmmmmm.”


What do you think chickens dream about?