Call Me Black Wolf
Ernest Thompson Seton and the Natures Fakers Controversy
ROLE: Co-Creator, sound design
DATE: March 2015
PRODUCED BY: Barbara Adler & Ten Thousand Wolves for Klasika's public engagement series on VANDOCUMENT.
Ernest Thompson Seton was an early version of what we might now call a “naturalist.” He became fascinated with the wilderness at a young age, apparently while wandering the “unexplored wilderness North of Dundas” in his hometown of Toronto, in order to avoid spending time with his overbearing father.
Later in life, in search of more wild experiences, he pursued a career as a wolf hunter on the Canadian prairies, eventually leading to the classic born-again-environmentalist “what have I done” moment. After killing one too many of his targets, Seton vowed to become a defender of nature.
Taking on the persona of “Black Wolf,” Seton set about writing a series of stories that famously gave personality, consciousness, and even language to his animal characters. This upset a number of more traditionally scientific naturalists, erupting into a comically large international scandal known as “natures fakers,” which David Newberry and Barbara Adler explore in this piece.