Ishi: Last of His Tribe

Ishi: Last of His Tribe

by Theodora Kroeber
©1964, Item: 48539
Hardcover, 208 pages
Used Price: $6.00 (1 in stock) Condition Policy

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In the rugged foothills below Mount Lassen, a remarkable drama in American history unfolded during the late decades of the last century and the early 1900's. Here, a small band of California Indians of the Yahi tribe, living in concealment, resisted the fate that had all but wiped out their people—violent death by the invading gold seekers and settlers. Living off the land, this tiny group could survive only by cunning and superb moral and physical courage. Throughout their ordeal, they held to the code and religion of their ancestors, to the Yahi Way of Life. In time, one by one of the small group died, until there remained a single survivor; the man who became known as Ishi. This book tells the haunting, heroic story of Ishi—the boy, the man, the lone survivor of his tribe.

Ishi: Last of His Tribe is based on history. The intrusion of the white man into ancient Yahi lands, the deliberate and pointless massacre of the Indians, the brave if ineffective resistance of the Yahi to the white invaders, and their final realization that they could survive only by becoming a hidden people—all this is history. Mrs. Kroeber relates the sometimes terrible story in this book; and she does more. The facts of the tragedy are known, but how did it feel to be a Yahi living in constant fear of discovery and violent death? What were his thoughts, what did he do from day to day, where did he find the strength and faith—a "savage"—to continue to live with respect for others and for his ancient code, through impossible hardship?


Drawing upon a lifelong interest, understanding, and compassion for the American Indian, Theodora Kroeber recreates the atmosphere, the terrain, the sights and smells, the very essence of their existence, as these Yahi survivors lived through their last days. Her writing illuminates their fears, their joys and sorrows, as each person in the story emerges with strength and character. Finally, Ishi stands as the last Yahi—a dramatic yet tragic figure. How did he regard the intruders who had exterminated his family and his tribe? What are the innermost feelings of his gentle person as he reflects that with his death the life of an entire people ends? With tender insight into the character of Ishi, Mrs. Kroeber has recreated the boy and the man in a way that will assure for Ishi a lasting place in American history and literature.

—from the dust jacket

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