About Her Name

About how Gertrude Bernard came to be known as Anahareo.

"Her Tribal Name"

Anahareo was not actually the name by which she was known to either her friends or family; to them, she was Gertie (based on her given name, Gertrude) or Pony (because of her energy and free spirit). The general consensus on the origin of the name is that it was invented by Grey Owl (with Anahareo's support) as part of his effort to create an image for the both of them that fit with their roles as representatives of the wilderness.

Grey Owl and Anahareo
Anahareo and Grey Owl

The first official use of the name "Anahareo" in reference to Gertrude Bernard appears to have been in Grey Owl's book, Pilgrims of the Wild, published in 1935. In it, he writes:

"My wife Gertrude, who will be referred to from now on by her tribal name of Anahareo, [...] was a direct descendant of hereditary Iroquois chiefs, and her father was one of the original Mohawk river-men who had helped to make history along the Ottawa in the days of the great square-timber rafts; she came of a proud race."

There are a number of theories as to the inspiration for the name "Anahareo."

The first is that it is a modification of the name of Anahareo's great-great-grandfather, identified by some as the Mohawk hereditary chief Naharrenhou. An alternative theory is that it is a modification of the name of her great-grandfather, John Anenharison Nelson. (One can also see, through the historical documents, how Anenharison evolved into Narisson and, eventually, Nelson)

A third theory, which may in fact derive from the first two, is that Anahareo is a further modification of the name Paharomen Nahareo, or "Flaming Leaf." This name first appeared in an article in the Manitoba Free Press on October 10, 1931. In the article, entitled "Quest for Gold to Buy Airplane Takes Mohawk Girl Prospecting Alone," the following was written:

"When the urge to write is upon Grey Owl and he seems to need solitude, Mrs. Grey Owl packs her kit, puts away the ways of domesticity and turns again into Paharomen Nahareo (Flaming Leaf), the name under which she trod the wilds with her father and brothers.

It is perhaps a testament to Grey Owl's savvy as a public figure that the name by which she is still best known is the one which he gave her: Anahareo.