George Bird Grinnell, naturalist, conservationist and Indian rights activist, was born into a prominent family in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Yale University, receiving his B.A. in 1870 and a Ph.D. in paleontology in 1880. While at Yale, Grinnell participated in a paleontological expedition to the central Plains, Wyoming and Utah. In 1874 he served as naturalist and paleontologist in Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer's Black Hills expedition and, in 1875, was a member of William Ludlow's expedition surveying the Yellowstone. In 1899 Grinnell was a naturalist on Edward H. Harriman Expedition to Alaska. Grinnell's lifelong interest in the west was well established long before he left Yale. In 1876, four years before he earned his Ph.D., Grinnell became the editor-in-chief and soon-to-be owner of Forest and Stream magazine. Under his leadership, it became the country's foremost natural history magazine. Grinnell was the magazine's editor from 1876 until 1911, and he used its pages to help promote the creation of national parks. Grinnell played a pivotal role in the creation of Glacier National Park in 1910.
Grinnell's interest in the west extended to its native inhabitants. He was deeply interested in Plains Indians and, year after year, spent his summers visiting different reservations. He had befriended Frank North and his Pawnee scouts, and accompanied them on buffalo and elk hunts. Grinnell witnessed the destruction of game animals, brought about by commercial hunters, and was cognizant of its impact on Plains Indians' way of life. Grinnell, a prolific writer, authored several books and many articles on Cheyenne, Blackfoot, and Pawnee Indians, the most well-know of which was the two volume work entitled "The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Way of Life," first published in 1923. Until his death, he remained a staunch supporter of Cheyenne rights.
Grinnell was a founding member of both the Audubon Society and Boone and Crockett Club (with Theodore Roosevelt). He chaired the Council on National Parks, Forests and Wildlife, and was president of the National Parks Association. He was a trustee of the New York Zoological Society. Grinnell was also a prominent member of many other associations, such as the American Association of the Advancement of Science and New York Academy of Science. Grinnell was 89 years old when he died in New York City.