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john65pennington's avatar

Where were all the chickens and their eggs?

Asked by john65pennington (29057 points ) April 21st, 2011

Wife and I were discussing old documentaries and movies about native American Indians. Wife brought me my breakfast, that contained scrambled eggs. Then, it hit me. I cannot recall a single western movie where chickens were in the background and cooked eggs were on the table. Surely, native American Indians knew or discovered chicken eggs. Question: can you name a movie or documentary where chickens were in the background, back in the old western days of cowboys and indians?

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12 Answers

Seelix's avatar

Deadwood. I don’t remember whether there are actually any chickens depicted, but they do eat eggs and bacon.

WasCy's avatar

According to the little bit of sleuthing that your question prompted, chickens were not native to North America until the arrival of (some of) the first Europeans, probably Columbus. So they probably weren’t part of the regular aboriginal menagerie until quite some time after that, since the American aborigines didn’t have the same kind of mercantile exchange that Europeans also introduced to this continent.

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mazingerz88's avatar

@Seelix Yes I’m sure bacon ( the “bacon” there eats dead people too ) eaten in Deadwood but not so with eggs. Maybe I missed that part. If this question came a little earlier would have paid close attention to the menu that was displayed on E.B. Barnum’s dining wall. Funny I don’t recall seeing any chickens, live or dead, but big chunks of whatever bloody meat hanging in outside stalls, yes.

To accurately answer this question will take maybe hours of watching old westerns and some new ones. Wish I had the time, that will be fun.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m thinking there are plenty of incorrect depictions in movies about Native Americans, lack of chickens and eggs being the least of them.

thorninmud's avatar

European chickens (Gallus gallus) were raised and eaten by Native Americans from the time of the Plymouth colony forward. There’s a record from 1623 of the Plymouth colonists giving live chickens to an ill chief so he could make chicken soup, but the record goes on to say that he didn’t kill them, but kept them for breeding.

Roosters were apparently also valued for their plumage. Red was a particularly esteemed color in Native symbolism, and the roosters introduced by the Plymouth colonists had lots of reddish plumage.

As for why they don’t show up in movies, I’d say that it’s because almost all of the old westerns dealt with the Plains Indians, and the only domestic animals they kept were dogs and horses.

SpatzieLover's avatar

There were prairie chickens and the people in Little House in the Prairie did eat the chickens & the eggs…so my assumption was so did the natives.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I always wondered that. My father always joked that vultures were laying eggs and they were eating them.

FluffyChicken's avatar

Chickens aren’t native, however Native Americans DID eat local native game birds such as turkey, grouse, and prairie hens. Not so sure about eggs, but I’d hazard a guess towards yes.

faye's avatar

Because they were ‘hunter-gatherers’, not farmers. Pioneer movies show chickens, picture the farm wife sprinkling corn out of her apron. I’ve seen movies where they killed a chicken for supper when company came- Lonesome Dove is one. I’d bet Indians ate eggs while they were going from there to somewhere else.

El_Cadejo's avatar

As stated above, chickens arent a native species to America.

How odd that we were just talking about this in Biodiversity and Evolution today at school.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The prairie chicken is a relative of the grouse, not domestic chickens. They were not domesticated, and don’t do well in captivity.

Indians did indeed raid birds nests and eat the eggs.

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