Pheasant capitalism: Auditing South Dakota’s state bird

by Frederick Errington and Deborah Gewertz

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By Frederick Errington and Deborah GewertzFull Article:onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/amet.12137/full


(image:
http://americanethnologist.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/07/ae-gewertz-evening-surprise-600px-300x212.jpg alt: Evening Surprise, a 1983 painting by Terry Redlin depicting the peaceful coexistence of farmers and pheasants, displayed in the Redlin Art Center, Watertown, South Dakota, included with permission of Julia Ranum, Executive Director, Redlin Art Center.

Evening Surprise, a 1983 painting by Terry Redlin depicting the peaceful coexistence of farmers and pheasants, displayed in the Redlin Art Center, Watertown, South Dakota, included with permission of Julia Ranum, Executive Director, Redlin Art Center.

) Evening Surprise, a 1983 painting by Terry Redlin depicting the peaceful coexistence of farmers and pheasants, displayed in the Redlin Art Center, Watertown, South Dakota, included with permission of Julia Ranum, Executive Director, Redlin Art Center. The Chinese ring-necked pheasant was named South Dakota’s state bird in 1943. Today this “immigrant that made good” remains important to South Dakotans who believe that having their state’s symbol to hunt is both part of the good life and indicative that “culture” and “nature” remain in balance. Given ever-more-intensive monocropping, however, the pheasant is in trouble. With its habitat disappearing and its numbers significantly declining, many worry about a pending “ecological rift.” In an effort to recover pheasant numbers without offending agricultural interests, the state’s governor held a “summit” that produced various “win-win” proposals, among them, ways to make the propagation of nature in the form of pheasant habitat profitable. In this social history of the pheasant in South Dakota, we use historical-materialist and phenomenological perspectives to explore efforts to harmonize culture and nature through pheasant capitalism. 


(image:
http://americanethnologist.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/07/ae-gewertz-fred-600px.jpg alt: “Fred among the Pheasants,” a photograph taken by Daniel Schaal on November 6, 2014, of Frederick Errington holding the pheasant he shot while hunting on private land with Schaal and Spencer Vaa near Bridgewater, South Dakota.

“Fred among the Pheasants,” a photograph taken by Daniel Schaal on November 6, 2014, of Frederick Errington holding the pheasant he shot while hunting on private land with Schaal and Spencer Vaa near Bridgewater, South Dakota.

) “Fred among the Pheasants,” a photograph taken by Daniel Schaal on November 6, 2014, of Frederick Errington holding the pheasant he shot while hunting on private land with Schaal and Spencer Vaa near Bridgewater, South Dakota.