The Last Of The Yahi Tribe

Ishi (1860-1916) was the name given to the last member of the Yahi tribe of California. Ishi is believed to be the last Native American to have lived the bulk of his life outside the influence of European American culture. He emerged from the wild in 1911 near Oroville, California after leaving behind his ancestral homeland, the hills and mountains above. His real name was never known, because in his society it was taboo to say one's own name. Since he was the last member of his tribe, his real name died with him. The photo to the left was taken shortly after he was found.

Prior to European contact, the Yana population numbered approximately 3,000. Ishi and his family were victims of the Three Knolls Massacre, from which approximately 30 Yahi survived. The remaining Yahi escaped but went into hiding for the next forty years after cattlemen killed about half of the survivors. Eventually Ishi's mother and other companions died, and he was discovered by a group of butchers in their corral in Oroville. August 29, 1911.

He only lived another five years, before succumbing in 1916 to tuberculosis in the alien surroundings of the University Of California Hospital. Eighty-four years after his death, Ishi was finally buried in his proper resting place.

Your humble scribe signs off for the evening. He wonders at what went through Ishi's mind the day his last kinsman died and he sighs, knowingly, at how desolation can drive a man out of the hills and forests he knows, in to the strange and unforgiving beyond

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