ISHI IN TWO WORLDS by Theodora Kroeber


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The Yana Indians of California, previously untouched by white civilization, suffered a tragic fate at the hands of the Americans. A policy of extermination reduced their numbers from in 1850 to scattered individuals in 1872. The southern Yana, the Yahl, were obliterated but for one tiny band. This group, grimly determined to preserve their ancient ways, began a fantastic fifty-year policy of concealment in the wilderness around the lone survivor of that band, was found almost dead of starvation in . Aided by a list of words from other Yana dialects, two University of California anthropologists established verbal communication with him. As their Yahi and his English increased, the vanished Yahl culture was revealed and recorded. In this brilliantly written study Ishi, who journeyed from the Stone Age to the Twentieth Century, emerges as an intelligent, engaging personality. The history and culture of his people are vividly recreated. But above all, this is the fascinating story of Ishi, both as an individual and as a key to the past. From an imposing array of technical works, historical documents, diaries, newspaper accounts, and personal reminiscences, the author has fashioned an important and moving human document.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1961
Publisher: Univ. of California Press