While the popular notion of the American Thanksgiving is less than 400 years old, the turkey has been part of American lives for more than 2,000 years. But for much of that time, the bird was more revered than eaten.
Washington State University archaeologists over the years have repeatedly seen evidence, from bones to blankets to DNA extracted from ancient poop, suggesting that the Pueblo people of the Southwest bred turkeys as far back as 200 B.C.
“Turkeys were an important bird symbolically and in practical ways as a source of feathers that kept people warm in the winter,” said Bill Lipe, a WSU professor emeritus of anthropology with decades of experience in the area. “And they were also important as a food source, probably primarily at periodic feasts and ritual gatherings.”