Monday, May 16, 2016

Native American Biography, Ishi, Yahi

Ishi has the distinction to be the last surviving member of his group.  He was Yahi of the Yana Tribe.  the numbers were greatly reduced by the California policy towards Native Americans.  A bounty was offered for dead Native Americans, to make way for newcomers.  Numbers were also reduced by new diseases.  Prior to the gold rush there were about 3,000 Yana, 400 Yahi in California.  Indian Hunters ambushed the group in the Three Knolls Massacre, killing over half of the survivors.  Only 33 Yahi survived, and went into deep hiding.   They remained hidden from 1859 to 1908.  Then a group of surveyors came across them, and there were only four remaining.  Ishi's mother was sick, and passed away; His sister and uncle ran away, leaving only Ishi.  He survived in a starving fashion for another three years, before he walked out of the mountains into the Oroville area scrounging for food.  He was taken in by the anthropology department of the University of Berkeley, where he lived another five years.  He worked there both as a subject of anthropological enquiry but also as a research assistant.  He showed them how to make arrow heads from flint, start fires and other skills.  However, his immune system was not adapted to the diseases around him.  He was often ill.  He passed away from tuberculosis in 1916.

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