Fall 2013 Poultry Press NEXT
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The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) Needs to Hear from Us

alhfam In December 2012, United Poultry Concerns received an urgent request for help on behalf of quails and turkeys being subjected to extreme cruelty, in November, at an undisclosed historical museum site in the South. Apparently this site, and not only this site, has been killing turkeys and quails for the purpose of displaying supposedly traditional Native American ways of “dressing” such birds to the visiting public.

Prior to the killings, the quails and turkeys were described by the witness, a cultural historian, as being held in cardboard boxes and wire cages in rain and bitter cold, in the woods, without any bedding and fed a deficient diet of corn and deprived of water.

The manner in which the birds were killed would be a crime under most state anti-cruelty laws. They were made to suffer for a period lasting up to 8 minutes by a combination of pithing through the backs of their heads into their brains using an awl or a narrow knife, then slowly strangled to death by an individual pressing his fingers down on the windpipe of the bird being held on a plank on the ground. The birds were struggling, quivering, and crying, and birds forced to watch and hear their suffering were intensely agitated.

According to the witness, this cruelty does not represent traditional Native methods and thus has no justification as historic reenactment, but even if it did, it would be unacceptable by humane standards.

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The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) is an international organization serving the interests and needs of its individual and institutional members and supporting experiential interpretations of history. ALHFAM serves those involved in living historical farms, agricultural museums and outdoor museums of history and folklife. ALHFAM services assist members in fulfilling their professional responsibilities and improving the quality of their public offerings. www.alhfam.org

Respectfully urge ALHFAM:

  • To do a survey of its member sites as soon as possible in order to learn which ones, if any, are killing birds and how the birds are being maintained and killed for exhibit purposes.

  • To take a stand against harming and killing animals for public demonstration and instead to require representation of Native/Colonial practices using computer simulations and fabricated materials to make the point. Literal reenactment of violence and killing is not necessary; it is not done, for example, to demonstrate scalping. Students and adults learn about the past through artifacts, books, photographs, memoirs, drama, computer graphics and other creative methods of instruction. We do not need to hurt and kill animals to teach people about other times and places. There are superior ways for a civilized society to explore and experience the past.

  • To develop and circulate specific written standards for ALHFAM member organizations to comply with. As the foremost living history organization, ALHFAM is in a position to do this and has an obligation not only to its member sites and the public, but to any sentient creature who is susceptible to abuse by historical site personnel.


Pete Watson, President
Debra Reid, Vice President
Ed Schultz, Chair of the Farm Professional Interest Group
Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums
c/o 129 West End Avenue
Summit, NY 07901
(All three people can be emailed at this address.)

Fall 2013 Poultry Press NEXT