Friday, March 25, 2016

Ishi 100 Years -- March 25, 2016

Collier's Magazine, 28-October-1911

One hundred years ago today, on 25-March-1916, A native American called Ishi, the last of his tribe, called the Yani, died in San Francisco, where he had been living since he was found in 1911.  He had been hiding since a massacre about 1865 had killed most of his tribe.  This article is from the 26-March-1916 Arizona Republican.  


[Republican A. P. Leased Wire]

SAN FRANCISCO, March 25. Ishi, last of the Yahi stone-age tribe of Indians, which once flourished in California, east of the Sacramento, whose "discovery" in 1911 near Oroville, Cal., resulted in his adoption by savants of the University of California as a valuable anthropological acquisition, died here today from tuberculosis, possibly brought on by the interruption of his primitive outdoor life.

Since shortly after his appearance, hungry and almost naked, in Oroville, Ishi was maintained as a living exhibit in the Affiliated Colleges Museum in San Francisco, where he kindled fires by rubbing sticks together, fashioned arrow heads, and exhibited prowess in other primitive exploits, for the entertainment and instruction of thousands of visitors.

Ishi died nameless, for "Ishi," in the language of his vanished tribe, meant man, and was given him by scholars associated with him in 1911. He was about 60 years old and had been bed-ridden only a week. His effects will not be cremated with his body, as was the custom of his people but will be preserved at the museum where he spent his last years.

According to a history of the Yahi tribe compiled by Prof. T. T. Waterman of the University of California, who was a close friend and observer of Ishi, and who identified the half-starved supposed "wild man" as the possible last survivor of his race, Ishi was one of a small party of Yahis who fled into the hills east of the Sacramento river in 1S65 after their band had been almost exterminated by a party of armed whites.

Evidences of the survival of four of the Yahis was found in 1908. According to Professor Waterman, at this time they were using the bow and arrow and other aboriginal tools and appliances and knew nothing of the usages of civilization.

Ishi told museum scientists that all his companions had died before he ventured across the border of civilization.

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