The Last Stone Age Man in America Part 1

About the last stone age man in America a Native America known as Ishi who lived life like a primitive, history and biography.

THE LAST STONE AGE MAN IN AMERICA

Shortly after 11 o'clock in the evening of Sept. 4, 1911, a quiet, frightened little man stepped off a ferryboat into the glare of electric lights, the shouting of hotel runners, and the clanging of trolley cars on Market Street in San Francisco. Nervous, thin almost to the point of starvation, and dressed in borrowed clothes, he moved closer to his neatly attired traveling companion. That his companion was white made little difference to the Indian, for the white man was his only friend in this completely strange and totally new world.

This is the story of the last Stone Age man on the North American continent, the nameless Indian who became known only as Ishi. The man with him that evening was Thomas T. Waterman, an anthropology professor at the University of California, then located in San Francisco. Waterman as yet knew nothing about the Indian except that he belonged to a tribe long since listed as extinct. He had been alerted to a possible human drama after reading an account in the San Francisco Call about the capture of a "wild man" in Oroville, a small mining town in northern California.

The "wild man," so the account read, had been discovered on the morning of Aug. 29, crouching against the fence of a slaughterhouse corral just outside the town, terrified and unable or unwilling to defend himself against the pack of barking dogs that surrounded him. So far no one had been able to converse with him, even though numerous Indians, Mexicans, and whites had tried. Thus how and why he came to be there remained a mystery. For lack of a better place to keep him, the county sheriff in Oroville had locked him up in a cell for the insane. And according to the newspaper, the sheriff had had his hands full with the hundreds of people who had flocked in to see the mysterious "wild man."

After reading the article in the Call, Waterman bought other dailies and read them avidly, hoping to learn something more. But there was nothing more to learn. The papers all reported the same things: The strange-looking man was thought to be Indian though he was undoubtedly wild; he had pieces of deer thong in his earlobes and a wooden plug in the septum of his nose. When found, he had been naked except for a ragged piece of wagon canvas worn over his shoulders like a poncho.

All this had given Waterman an idea. Three years earlier, in 1908, he had read a related account of some strange Indians seen running from a small camp hidden deep in the Deer Creek Canyon country in the Mt. Lassen foothills 40 mi. north of Oroville. Waterman, accompanied by two guides, had spent more than a month trying to find the little band. He now believed that the Indian in the Oroville jail was one of the band. He also believed it possible that the captive belonged to the Yanas--a tribe of Indians who had lived in the rugged, brush-covered foothill country of Mt. Lassen for thousands of years. Waterman, who along with Dr. Alfred L. Kroeber, head of the university's anthropology department, had done extensive field work and research study with Indians up and down the state of California, knew something of the history of the Yanas.

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