Leslie Marmon Silva, a Native American writer, includes a mixture of the Indian folktales and the realistic world of the twentieth century life of Indian reservations. Her story "Yellow Woman" blends these two worlds so well that the reader often wonders whether the main character is caught in a time warp.
The narrator of the story is a young Indian woman who has a family and lives in a Laguna pueblo in Arizona. She takes an unforgettable walk along a river near her home. This walk results in an inexplicable transference to another time and place.
The Indian woman finds herself in a sexual encounter with a man named Silva, who says he is a ka'tsina or mountain spirit. Unable to resist his wishes, she is named by him as Yellow Woman, also a Native American spirit. She rides with him to his mountain cabin where she remains under his spell. He does not ask but tells her what to do.
After a night of lovemaking, the woman discovers that the man is gone. She goes for a walk and returns to find him there butchering a cow. He tells her that he has taken it from the locals. His plan is for the two of them to take the beef to Mexico and sell it.
Not long into the journey, an angry, unarmed man stops them and confronts Silva that he has taken his cow.
'Where did you get the fresh meat?' the white man asked.
'Ive been hunting,' Silva said.
'The hell you have, Indian. You've been rustling cattle. We've been looking for the thief for a long time.'
Silva tells Yellow Woman to return to the cabin. For the first time, the woman realizes that Silva is a dangerous thief and murderer. Responding to the danger, she rides away.
As she is going down the mountain, she hears four shots. Since the man was unarmed, it would seem logical that Silva had shot the other man. However, since the author chose not to share that information, speculation is all that can be made. The angry rancher could have had people hidden around him and Silva might have been shot. The question will not be answered. It is left to the imagination of the reader.
In the meantime, the narrator does return to her family with a lie that she has been kidnapped. In the back of her mind, she hopes that one day she will see her lover again.