Then we Euros hung around a while and pretty soon, along with the passenger pigeons and the Carolina parakeet, they were about done. Come around 1900 the parakeets were gone and the pigeons were on the way out. The turkeys were down to some 30,000. Think, current populations of polar bears, as explained in this excellent story in the Cool Green Science blog of Nature.
Fortunately, Theodore Roosevelt and other conservationists got the message. Habitat setasides worked; so did game laws recognizing that the birds were not limitless. Hatch-and-release programs didn't work -- you raise a bird in a barnyard, then fling it into a forest and say "Good luck"? Nuh-unh. But catch and reintroduce into new protected territory programs did. Nowadays wild turkeys number in the millions, with a conservation status of least concern. Hunters love them, and they are notoriously difficult to shoot, being mistrustful and sharp of eye.
Anyhow. The feather above I found as I walked along the Trek, and I considered it a wonderful omen and wore it in my hat for a while. Then I carefully brought it home, where it remains now. The arrow was made and given to me by the wonderful John Jeffries, of the Occaneechi, who is carrying forward not only traditional native American respect for the world around us and craftsmanship but a friendship to all who reach out in good spirit and hope of understanding. I'm glad I found my feather, and I'm glad I met John to show me what a feather like mine looks like put to good use.
So let's see if we've got this straight. One bird bird bullies other birds and steals their food, though the eagle himself can be bullied by something very small he ought not to give a moment's thought to. Another bird, though a bit vain and silly, is brave and has made his way back from the brink of extinction with the help of good and decent people.
And we take as our symbol the bully bird who proves a coward. As we celebrate a holiday about thanks and sharing at the same time seemingly half our population trembles in fear of refugees, that symbol seems sadly apt.
As for me I stick with the turkey feather. I believe I may adopt the turkey feather as my own personal symbol. Maybe I'll stick it back in my hat.
Anyhow. Happy Thanksgiving from the Lawson Trek.