John James Audubon was a wildlife artist who is legendary for portray America’s birds in addition to being a serious participant within the emergence of naturalism within the nineteenth century. Audubon has change into akin to a people hero, particularly amongst birders, and is usually imagined as a type of bird-watching pilgrim, touring the nation, observing its wildlife, after which rendering lovely life-like work which proceed to be loved to at the present time. Audubon’s affiliation with birds is absolute. At this time, many extra individuals seemingly acknowledge his identify because the namesake of the Audubon Society, a United States fowl conservation group populated by devoted birdwatchers and with chapters all around the nation.
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The ever present Audubon society does a variety of good beneath this identify. The society is liable for a spread of conservation-focused actions in addition to schooling and community-building. “Citizen science” has been a well-liked buzzword these days, however Audubon members and followers aren’t any strangers to the idea, which has at all times been a serious aspect of the birdwatching interest.
So why is it that a number of Audubon-affiliated organizations have rejected John James Audubon and his surname in latest months? Starting with the Seattle chapter, Audubon societies across the nation, together with the group previously often called “Audubon for All” have begun the method of renaming. Generally, a brand new identify has but to be chosen. Audubon for All has change into the “Fowl 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 elements 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 as regards to 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 matter. Different complaints exist towards Audubon, together with a morbid incident by which Audubon writes about amassing skulls from Native American gravesites for research.
These startling blemishes on the private historical past of John James Audubon have been the main catalyst for Audubon Society identify adjustments all through the nation. As birdwatching experiences a post-pandemic interval of progress 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 considerations. The Audubon identify is widely known and is used for schooling 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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