This study investigates the source species for feathers incorporated into two Comanche artifacts known as hi kodako. We attempted to determine the originating species using a molecular approach–specifically DNA barcodes–because the feathers were modified in appearance. We tried three different DNA extraction methods on feathers from one complete hi kodako and a remnant feather from a second artifact, each more than 100 years old. The silica membrane extraction method was most successful in this study. While tradition holds that only corvid feathers should be used, our results suggest that hi kodako are actually composed of feathers from multiple species, which in this case included ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis), domestic chicken (Gallus gallus), and northern raven (Corvus corax). This information bears important cultural significance and provides a greater degree of accuracy to the historic ethno-ornithological record.
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Vol. 30 • No. 2