Published on September 25, 2014 by Amy
The turkey was the most important animal for the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest. Turkeys were first introduced into the United States from Mexico around the year 200 AD. By the year 1100, the turkey had become a vital source of food, clothing and religious symbolism for the Pueblo Indians.
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Although the Pueblo peoples primarily subsisted on a vegetarian diet that included beans, squash and corn, they also hunted for small game and domesticated their own animals for meat. By far the most important domesticated food animal for the Pueblo peoples was the turkey. The turkey was either smoked and preserved or roasted and eaten with bread and corn.
The Pueblo peoples often used turkey feathers to adorn their clothing. This included day-to-day clothing worn by the lay people, as well as special religious outfits and headdresses that their priests and shamans wore on ceremonial days.
The turkey was an important religious symbol for the Pueblo peoples. Pueblo homes often contained hanging charms to which turkey feathers were affixed. The charms were supposed to provide protection from evil spirits. In addition, the Pueblo peoples performed exorcisms for those they believed to be possessed by evil spirits with the aid of turkey feather charms.
The Pueblo peoples made extensive use of turkey feathers for their bedding and blankets. Blankets were woven and then layered with turkey feathers for additional warmth, and pillows were most often stuffed with turkey feathers.