One of the first things that took place at the 2013 Texas Bigfoot Conference was an announcement by TBRC Board member Brian Brown in which he stated that, henceforth, the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) would be called the North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC).
The name change is something that our entire organization has debated for sometime. In the end, the group decided it was the right thing to do. The reasons for the name change are outlined below:
New name, same mission
In 1958, construction worker Jerry Crew discovered some large footprints in the dry, dusty Northern California soil and a legend was born. Crew’s find was eventually related to the world via the Humboldt Times along with the name he and the rest of his work team had given to the maker of those tracks: Bigfoot.
In the years that have followed, the name of this one individual (whoever or whatever it was) has come to stand for the entire phenomenon of large, hairy bipedal figures seen by people all over North America and the world, even though, in the minds of many, "Bigfoot" remains a solitary, presumably magical creature along the lines of the Tooth Fairy or Jack Frost. Eventually, the term "Bigfoot" was appropriated by the media as a proxy for the humorously improbable interests of simpletons and not the concern of serious, practical people.
Our organization's mission is to help establish and conserve "Bigfoot" — through a partnership with governmental, academic, and scientific interests — as what we believe it is: an extant population of higher primates living in the forests and wild places of North America. In the course of our work we have found that using the popular vernacular often raises barriers when attempting to engage those outside our specific field of interest. "Bigfoot" is not something serious people, they feel, apply effort towards. It's a phenomenon that belongs to tabloids, late-night comedians and scoffing network news anchors.
In response, we have adopted the term "wood ape" as a name for the animal because that's what all our observations and experiences tell us it is. Neither a joke nor a myth, but a living, breathing primate species deserving of protection and study.
Jerry Crew's discovery may have created the legend, but the animal behind it has existed on this continent from a time far earlier than 1958. How much longer it’s allowed to survive and thrive alongside man is very likely dependent on establishing it as real. Whatever helps us do that must be done, up to and including unmooring ourselves from a legendary, often ridiculed, name.
To that end, after long consideration by and following a unanimous vote of this organization's Board of Directors, we are pleased to announce that from this point forward, the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) shall be known as the North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC). While we recognize changing how language is used is a long and perhaps quixotic endeavor, we feel that the needs of this amazing species are poorly served by the silly patina that has accreted over the term "Bigfoot."
Hopefully, our efforts or the efforts of others will make the North American wood ape a serious topic. We believe changing the very words we use while getting there is an important part of that process.