Talk:Grey Owl

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[edit]

I think perhaps the 7 Apr 2004 revision of the 1st paragraph should be undone. (a) "Grey Owl" was not a nickname. (b) The occasion was much more than a mere name change. The preceding version seems clearer, more precise, and more informative. --MarkB 18:30, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC)

[edit]

Why is he listed on Category:Impostors and also in Impostor?? That label doesn't seem to fit the bill here! Lupo 12:15, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

In fact, I would welcome suggestions to more proper moniker for people who have adopted amerindian identity regardless of their origin - just like Grey Owl and Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance - Skysmith 13:36, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I am by no means an expert, but were/are these people not called "White Indian" or "Black Indian", respectively? Though I must say that I have no idea whatsoever whether and if so, how loaded these terms are. Lupo 14:23, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I've also seen the terms "white Indian" used, and it seems appropriate in this case.--Parkwells (talk) 16:16, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Stansfeld?[edit]

Should it be mentioned that sources are divided between "Stansfeld" and "Stansfield". The former predominates, but seems unlikely given his relatives being Stansfield [1] Tearlach 14:15, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

Imposter?[edit]

What is the logic behind including Grey Owl in this category? I am not all that familiar with him, but nothing in the article seems to motivate category inclusion. Yeah, he seems to have claimed a voluntary identity that some people thought was inappropriate, but his reason for noteriety seems to be his writing, not any such identity claim per se.

Obviously, it's annoying for my edit of removing the category to be described as vandalism, in rather bad faith. But that's just annoying, and doesn't affect whether the category fits per se. Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters 03:19, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

  • Who described it as vandalism?Vizjim 06:36, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
    • "Impostors in this category are individuals whose principal claim to noteriety is in having passed themselves off as a person or type of person whom they are not." Grey Owl is an individual known for two things - 1) saving the beaver and 2) pretending to be from a First Nations tribe, despite having actually been born in Hastings. Do a quick google and make your own mind up for which he is currently most well-known. Grey Owl is a famous impostor. As such, he goes into the category "Impostors". I find it extremely difficult to understand the problem with this, hence the flamebait comment about nonsensical changes, for which I apologise.Vizjim 06:44, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

The problem seems to be that most impostors make up everything, and for personal gain or out of some delusion. Grey Owl lied about his ancestry, but he didn't lie about living in the wilderness nor about his belief that the wilderness and its wildlife should be preserved. If he felt he needed to pretend to be a First Nations tribesman to do that, then so be it. I think that's the general feeling re this man.

Grey Owl may very well have been an "impostor" by definition, and I will accept that. He did indeed fool the world, even the King of England, whom he patted hardily on the back. However, it should be noted that Belaney was accpeted by the people of Bear Island as one of their own, and in this regard we can see that culture sometimes surpasses blood. That Grey Owl is, according to Vizjim, more remembered as an impostor than a visionary conservationist is purely the fault of society. In my earliest learnings of Grey Owl and in studies of his work while in school, the lessons focused on Grey Owl as an environmental legend, not as an impostor. That he was First Nation or not was/is of little consequence. Choosing the impostor role as the primary means of remembering Grey Owl is not only foolish, but it disregards some of the world's earliest and most influential conservationism. Furthermore, categorizing Grey Owl under "Literary hoaxes" is incorrect. There was nothing hoaxed about his writing. I've removed that categorization. --Bentonia School 15:21, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Posthumous recognition[edit]

I have changed the reference to "Canadian Scarlet Maple" to "Canadian Red Maple" because I have never known the tree to be called anything other than Red Maple in English. I have kept the word Canadian as a descriptor indicating the country of origin of that species of tree, not as part of the name of the species.Paulannis 16:13, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Wa-sha-quon-asin?[edit]

I've tried to find out what "Wa-sha-quon-asin" really ought to be in Ojibwe but the closest I could come-up was wewenjiganooshiinh to mean "grey screech-owl", from wewenjiganoo ("grey screech-owl") with pejorative and contemptive suffixes attached. Do anyone know of any references that speak to his "Ojibwa name" other than all the "Wa-sha-quon-asin" references? CJLippert 23:20, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

I got a communique saying that the word is wenjiganoozhiinh for the "great horned owl" or "great grey owl", coming from wenji- ("for..., from whence...") and ganoozh ("speak to someone") with a contemptive suffix, describing the primary characteristic of the owl's hoot. CJLippert 16:38, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I've understood Wa-sha-quon-asin to mean, roughly or directly, "grey owl". It refers though to Belaney's tendancy to travel and stay alone for long periods, often without saying anything to anyone. "He who flies by night" as it were, like an owl. --Bentonia School 15:13, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Rand Valentine in his PhD dissertation for the University of Texas at Austin, Ojibwe Dialect Relationships, makes a brief mention of Belaney, but says that though his name in English was "Grey Owl", the Ojibwe name actually meant "Clear Sky-Rock" (pg. 108 f. 1). Which would be, I believe(?) waashakwad-asin or the like? --Miskwito 01:34, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
It can be. However, if we follow the romanisation closer, the implied word for "Clear Sky-Rock" would be waashakwan-asin... which would be the way many Oji-cree and Northwestern Ojibwe would say the word. However, unless we know where he got his Anishinaabe name, what Rand has in his dissertation would be only a guess (though it does fit better) and wenjiganoozhiinh (an actual word that I was able to confirm with elders located near me) would only skirt the heart of the question. We can for now provide both forms, but with a clear statement that his Anishinaabe name may have come from one of these or a similiar-sounding word for a name. CJLippert 13:12, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
"Clear-Sky Rock" can't be the name because the major reasoning is that the element I had as -akwan- to mean "sky" is not right; it is -nakwan- and it means "cloud". This means the closest combination yields waasanakwan-asin.
To dispel the "He who flies by night" myth, "fly by night" in Ojibwe would be niibaa'ise as a single word (niibaa- being "night" and -ise being "fly" or "glide") or babaamise-dibik as a compound word (babaam- is "about" or "around" and dibik is "night"). Neither dibik or niibaa- is in the name, nor is -ise.
A word that is similar to an actual word that I was able to confirm with elders located near me and that I found in print was the word I had originally: wewenjiganoo ("grey screech-owl"). In—Cooke, Wells W. “Bird Nomenclature of the Chippewa Indians,” Auk. 1 (1884): 242-250.—we find "60. GREAT GRAY OWL. Ulula cinerea. We-wen'-gi-ga-no'. No meaning found." And considering that among the Anishinaabeg, it is considered a bad omen when an owl speaks to you, having the great gray owl be called wenji-ganoozhiinh makes sense. CJLippert (talk) 03:16, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

An invention?[edit]

The section "Grey Owl had been an invention" is misleading. The name was given to Belaney long before he was even in the public eye. He had lived with the people of Bear Island and throughout the Canadian Sheild for a long time before anyone had any idea of his work. He trapped beaver for years before he chose to stop. He stopped trapping beaver long before he became famous. He wished to conserve the Canadian wilderness long before he toured England. He wrote short magazine pieces long before he was convinced to write his famed books. The persona of Archie Grey Owl is as true as anything else about him. The fact that Grey Owl is remembered more for not being truthful about his personal history than for his immensely ahead-of-its-time work is evidence of societal fault. That this fault has seeped into Wikipedia is not overly surprising. I'm editing this section. --Bentonia School 15:33, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not there to correct societal faults, nor to correct reality. Archie Belaney posed as Grey Owl for complex reasons, but that does not mean it was not a pose. The section on his environmental work could certainly do with expanding, but that is not a reason to delete the correct information from this page. Vizjim 18:10, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
I see it as incorrect, and history does as well. Any current ideas about Grey Owl as an "invention" are purely in the minority. All of his posthumous accolades attest to that. Perhaps I was rash in deleting the section, but I find the original article to have been leaning more toward a negative representative of Grey Owl with very little neutrality in the writing. I see as well that the section has been brought back. I gladly debate that; the wording is simply misleading. Grey Owl lived fully the life of a First Nation and was completely accepted not only by the Ojibwe but by various other tribes as well. I move for the section to be removed or the language reworded. --Bentonia School 12:15, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Let's start with this statement: "Archie Belaney was a white Englishman who pretended to be Native". Is there something you see as false in that statement? Vizjim 16:00, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
How about "Although Archie Belaney was an Englishman with no Native blood, he took on the persona of a First Nations Native and lived as one in the Ontario wilderness for nearly twenty years [I'll double check this; I'm certain it was 20 years though]. In doing so, Belaney led others to believe that he was of half-Native origin. It was in fact, however, the Ojibwe with whom Belaney lived for a time that gave him the name Grey Owl." --Bentonia School 14:10, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
Just checked. Yes, Grey Owl lived in the Temagami and elsewhere in northern Ontario from 1907 to 1927. --Bentonia School 14:15, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
Right, so we've agreed that he pretended to be Native. Can you explain why that fact should be censored from the article? I'm all for expanding the section regarding his environmental activities, by the way. Vizjim 16:54, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, however my problem was that the article read in a negative manner, as if the author was somehow offended by the fact that Belaney fooled everyone. I don't believe in any respect that the fact should be ignored, but it shouldn't have been the driving element of the article either, especially since Grey Owl has come to be an icon in spite of his misleading. So, what shall we do about the wording? Are we in agreement with my proposed edit? Anything you want to add or subtract? And regarding the environmentalism of Grey Owl, let us work on that. I'll try to have something put together within the next couple of days. --Bentonia School 17:42, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

I suggest you read "Devil in Deerskins" by Anahareo, and "Wilderness Man" by Lovatt Dickson, the latter of which is good on the harm done by the revelation of Belaney's imposture. Anahareo's account is very romantic, but also inadvertently reveals just how little Belaney had to do with the tribes he exploited. I think that the short "Exposure" section does justice to this other side of Belaney's life, while the Biography and Posthumous Recognition sections explain what was good about his life and work, and the ways that it has subsequently been celebrated. Vizjim 06:40, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

"Cry of the Ancients" was written by a different Grey Owl, who died around 1959.

Ashley Taylor?[edit]

What are all the references to this "Ashley Taylor"? It doesn't even make sense! There are no links to other pages there, and I am pretty sure that the German is fake too. If Wikipedia could please fix it, it would be extremely helpful, and less annoying!

Inappropriate tone?[edit]

Someone has put a banner on for "inappropriate tone" but not provided any justification on the Talk page. Difficult to deal with if we don't know what the issues are. Much of the Talk page is old issues, not current ones.--Parkwells (talk) 16:18, 4 February 2010 (UTC

Had not read the whole article again - I agree with the banner and will work on tone and structure.--Parkwells (talk) 16:38, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Proposed outline for expanding Grey Owl article[edit]

Career (heading)[edit]

Trapper (sub heading under career)[edit]
  • His earlier mindset surrounding trapping will be discussed in greater depth, as not much is discussed with regards to how he viewed trapping before his switch to conservationism.
  • His work with the Ojibwa Indians / Guppy Family will be explored as they were critical in his development as a trapper that understood the fragility of the animal ecosystem (Smith, 41)
  • The time of his life spent working and living at the Temagami Inn as a chore-boy will be mentioned as this was one of the events in which  Archie first became an observer of the Objibwa way of life. (Smith, 40)
  • His love interest, Angele will also be discussed as she also introduced Archie to influential figures within the Objibwa community, providing Archie with plenty of sketches for his infamous notebooks. (Smith, 42)


Braz, Albert. “St. Archie of the Wild. Grey Owl’s Account of His ‘Natural’ Conversion,” in Other Selves: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination. ed. Janice Fiamengo, 206-226. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2007.

Grey Owl. Pilgrims of the Wild. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2010.

Smith, Donald B. From the Land of Shadows: the Making of Grey Owl. Saskatoon: Western Prairie Books, 1990.


Early Conservation Work (sub heading under career)[edit]
  • From the section on his life as a trapper, we will discuss the impact of Anahareo on his switch from trapper to Conservationist.  
  • The transformation of his own personal views of conservationism will be explored through his writings in Pilgrims of the wild.
  • His initial desires to write will also be explored, this section then ending with the completion of his first book “The Men of the Last Frontier” which can be seen as one of the starting points of his public conservation career.


Braz, Albert. “St. Archie of the Wild. Grey Owl’s Account of His ‘Natural’ Conversion,” in Other Selves: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination. ed. Janice Fiamengo, 206-226. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2007.
Grey Owl. Pilgrims of the Wild. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2010.
Smith, Donald B. From the Land of Shadows: the Making of Grey Owl. Saskatoon: Western Prairie Books, 1990.


Conservation Work with Parks Board Canada (sub heading under Career)[edit]
  • Source matter in this subheading will discuss Grey Owl’s beginning with Parks Board Canada through meeting James Harkin, covering material surrounding the films he made with their support, and his placement as caretaker of park animals at Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba.  
  • His relationship with W. J. Oliver regarding his being commissioned by Parks Board Canada to make films of Grey Owl will also be explored.  
  • We will also delve further into his later life as a conservationist and his role in Prince Albert National park.


Lanken, Dane. “The Vision of Grey Owl.” Canadian Geographic 119 (1999): 74-80.
Smith, Donald B. From the Land of Shadows: the Making of Grey Owl. Saskatoon: Western Prairie Books, 1990.

Conservationist Views (new heading)[edit]

  • His outlook on conservationism will be explored, using both Tina Loo’s “States of Nature” Conserving Canada’s Wildlife in the Twentieth Century, and Donald Smith’s “From the Land of Shadows,” and Grey Owl’s “Pilgrims of the Wild” as sources which deal with his mindset of conservationism in detail.


Loo, Tina. States of Nature: Conserving Canada’s Wildlife in the Twentieth Century. Vancouver: UBC Press ,2006.
Smith, Donald B. From the Land of Shadows: the Making of Grey Owl. Saskatoon: Western Prairie Books, 1990.


Conservation Legacy (sub heading under Posthumous recognition)[edit]
  • The inspiration his lectures, books and films had on the people who came into contact with them will be explored deeper by using the sources below, as this is an area of his life which is largely overshadowed by the controversy of his false indigenous identity.


Billinghurst, Jane. Grey Owl: The Many Faces of Archie Belaney. Vancouver: Greystone Books, 1999.
Chapin, David. “Gender and Indian Masquerade in the Life of Grey Owl “ American Indian     Quarterly 24 (2000): 91-109.
Dawson, Carrie. “Never Cry Fraud: Remebering Grey Owl, Rethinking imposture.” Essays on Canadian Writing 65 (1998): 120-140. 
Smith, Donald B. From the Land of Shadows: the Making of Grey Owl. Saskatoon: Western Prairie Books, 1990.


Death[edit]
  • His relationships with Parks Board Canada prior to his death will be explored, delving into such aspects as how his increased use of alcohol, and absence from the park due to his touring  prior to his death impacted his relationship with Parks Board.


Loo, Tina. States of Nature: Conserving Canada’s Wildlife in the Twentieth Century. Vancouver: UBC Press ,2006.
Smith, Donald B. From the Land of Shadows: the Making of Grey Owl. Saskatoon: Western Prairie Books, 1990.

AronBrown (talk) 17:57, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Proposed Relocation of paragraphs between sections[edit]

I found some of this article difficult to follow at first reading, since the Section entitled "Immigration to Canada" is largely concerned with his military career in Europe and also refers to his second marriage, to Constance (Ivy) Holmes, before the first marriage to Angele Egwuna is introduced in a subsequent section.

I propose to remove the section entitled "Trapping" and relocate the content into the section currently entitled "Immigration to Canada" and place it after the first paragraph (i.e. after paragraph ending "...to join the Ojibwa in Canada"). I think that this Section would then better be entitled "Trapping in Canada". I then propose that the rest of the former "Immigration to Canada" Section (paragraphs starting "Belaney enlisted with the...") be made into a new Section entitled "Military Career". These parts of the article then have a chronological flow, which I believe is critical to make sense of what is a difficult and unusual life story.

Inspeximus (talk) 16:17, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Key Porter Re-Prints[edit]

The article states in the Section Posthumous recognition "In 2005, the birthday recognition campaign led to Key Porter Books re-publishing Grey Owl's classic Tales from an Empty Cabin." This cannot be quite right, since the edition that I have (ISBN 1-55263-030-7) shows inside the front cover "First Key Porter Edition 1998". If this was re-published in 2005 then it was not the first time since the 1930's but the 1998 re-print that was re-published!

Inspeximus (talk) 14:19, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

A few thoughts[edit]

There might ought to be some explanation of his first wife, Angele. Her name appears only in the "bio box" and where he married his second wife. Anybody have info on her? There have been "fictional" people before who are not total imposters. Sidney Reilly, the spy, also Tristan Jones, whose books are apparently fiction presented as autobiography. Taking on a Native American persona has been done many times, but Mr. Belaney did get somewhat fictional about it. Smaxam (talk) 18:58, 16 October 2012 (UTC)