John James Audubon was a wildlife artist who is legendary for portray America’s birds in addition to being a significant participant within the emergence of naturalism within the nineteenth century. Audubon has develop into akin to a folks hero, particularly amongst birders, and is usually imagined as a form of bird-watching pilgrim, touring the nation, observing its wildlife, after which rendering stunning life-like work which proceed to be loved to today. Audubon’s affiliation with birds is absolute. In the present day, many extra individuals possible acknowledge his identify because the namesake of the Audubon Society, a United States chook conservation group populated by devoted birdwatchers and with chapters all around the nation.
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The ever present Audubon society does a number of good beneath this identify. The society is accountable for a spread of conservation-focused actions in addition to training and community-building. “Citizen science” has been a well-liked buzzword currently, however Audubon members and followers aren’t any strangers to the idea, which has at all times been a significant side of the birdwatching interest.
So why is it that a number of Audubon-affiliated organizations have rejected John James Audubon and his surname in current months? Starting with the Seattle chapter, Audubon societies across the nation, together with the group previously generally known as “Audubon for All” have begun the method of renaming. Usually, a brand new identify has but to be chosen. Audubon for All has develop into the “Chook Union.” Most lately, the Portland chapter has introduced its intent to drop the Audubon identify.
In every case, the motive for the change lies within the much less well-known features of John James Audubon’s historical past. Audubon was a slave-owner. He was born on his father’s plantation in 1785, and died in 1851, over a decade earlier than the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Audubon was vocally against abolition. He has additionally been accused of educational dishonesty on the subject of an unverified species of eagle, “Falco Washingtonii,” which Audubon claimed to have found. The intent and extent of the dishonesty in query is a hotly debated subject. Different complaints exist in opposition to Audubon, together with a morbid incident by which Audubon writes about amassing skulls from Native American gravesites for examine.
These startling blemishes on the non-public historical past of John James Audubon have been the foremost catalyst for Audubon Society identify modifications all through the nation. As birdwatching experiences a post-pandemic interval of development and curiosity amongst the broader inhabitants, many really feel that persevering with to carry onto the Audubon identify is certain to result in emotions of exclusion.
There may be, nevertheless, a contingent of birders who contemplate the Audubon identify to be bigger than John James Audubon’s private historical past. For these on this camp, the identify change raises issues. The Audubon identify is widely known and is used for training and outreach all through the nation. Obscuring that might harm the mission of the Audubon Society, a mission which is far bigger and larger than its namesake.
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