NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art

Turkey Tail Fans of the Southeast and Prairie Regions

Turkey feathers are best gathered in the fall after the turkey's new feather growth. Feathers are collected from both live and hunted birds, the adult male having the largest feathers. Tribes in the southeast are well-known for their turkey-tail fans, which are made up of individual feathers, the quills of which are soaked and braided together. These fans were so renowned that they became popular with the European ladies of the French Quarter in Lousiana in the eighteen-hundreds. Turkey tail fans of the Prairie tribes are made by inserting wooden or metal spacing rods through the quills to spread the feathers, while the tips of the quills were bound together with string. Sometimes the spacing rod was wrapped with thread or the handle was wrapped with leather or cloth with beaded applique.

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