Saturday, 1 December 2007

Putting the Con in Conservation.

Marwell Zoo, in Hampshire England, is the most recent in a long line of perpetrators of a myth.

A folder used by their Markettng and Education Departments, is beautifully produced, and contains the following quotation:

"What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to man." Chief Seattle, 1855.

As anyone who knows anything about North American Indians, this is one of the great 20th century frauds. The speech was actually written by a scripwriter who worked for Disney, in the 1950s. There never was a "Chief Seattle". But it sounds plausible, perpetrates the myth of the noble savage, and Friends of the Earth are also among the numerous conservation bodies who have been conned by it.

If you don't believe me, try typing "Chief Seattle fraud" into google.....


  1. I just googled "Chief Seattle fraud" as you suggested and only got two hits, one of which was yours. The other hit did not seem to claim There never was a "Chief Seattle", only questions over the quotes directly atributed to him.

    Wikipedia seems to believe their was a Chief Seattle. It even has a photo of him:

  2. Strange. I just googled it again "chief seattle" fraud, and got 904 hits. Mine was only 7th. Of course not all of these refer to the fake speech, but quite a few do.

    For instance.

  3. Yes, about 900 results is what I got too - it depends on where you put the second quotation mark! Searching for "Chief Seattle fraud", as anonymous did, only gives you two results, as it is a much more specific search, requiring all three words to occur immediately after one another in the text, which isn't likely to happen in a normally written piece of text.