Monday, November 12, 2012

Turkey Then and Now

Yesterday's Turkey:
The turkey is known to be clan animal in some Native American cultures. Their feathers have been used in the traditional regalia of many tribes, particularly the feathered cloaks of eastern Woodland Indians like the Wampanoag and the feather headdresses of southern tribes like the Tuscarora and Catawba. The Turkey Dance, one of the most important social dances of the Caddo tribe, is associated with songs about war honors and tribal pride. Turkey dances are also found in other eastern tribes, such as the Lenape, Shawnee, and Seminoles.

In folklore, some legends portray the turkey as a wily, overly- proud trickster while others make the bird out to be shy and elusive. In parts of Mexico and the American Southwest, turkeys were domesticated and kept as food animals by some tribes, and their role in stories from these tribes is similar to chicken stories from Europe, with the birds mimicking the concerns and activities of human farmers. 

At the time of the first European contact wild turkeys were abundant because the and management skills of native people, which including burning forest undergrowth, provided a good habitat for wild turkeys (bison & elk, too). 

Ben Franklin nominated the wild turkey as a national symbol, citing the bird’s modesty, alertness, self- reliance and ability to live off the land. 

Today's Turkey: 
It's estimated that turkeys have 3,500 feathers at maturity. Some of the feathers are still used in the making of  Native American costumes and pen quills. 
Big Bird, of Sesame Street fame, is actually dressed in turkey feathers. Although he is not a turkey, his costume is made of nearly 4,000 white turkey feathers, which have been dyed bright yellow.
Turkey feather down has been used to make pillows.

More About Turkeys:
Only tom turkeys gobble.

Hen turkeys make a clicking noise.
Domesticated turkeys cannot fly.
Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour.

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