The Last Stone Age Man in America Part 3

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


So it was that Waterman found himself on the way to the museum of anthropology that September night with a man suspected of being the only surviving member of a long-forgotten tribe and the last true Stone Age man in America. As for the Indian, the world would in time find out exactly what kind of person the "Wild Man of Oroville" was. Given a small room on the ground floor of the four-story museum building, he slowly began his step-by-step penetration into his new world.

Even though Waterman and Kroeber tried to keep the Yahi's arrival in San Francisco quiet, the news that he had come leaked out. In a matter of days the museum was overrun with people. The crowds that came exceeded all expectations. Not only reporters and photographers but circus directors and vaudeville managers flocked to the museum. They wanted to hire the Indian, and one of them had the audacity to ask Kroeber to join the "wild man" in a two-man show. Record companies wanted him to sing for them, and movie companies (that was the year of birth for Hollywood as a film capital) wanted him to appear in documentary and entertainment films. He even received a marriage proposal. The "wild man" had aroused the curiosity and imagination of the people of San Francisco in a way they had never known. It was the people who came to the museum those first days who were solely responsible for making the Indian the celebrity that he was to become for the rest of his life.

As more and more people heard about the Stone Age man living in the museum, it became increasingly awkward that he had no name. Pressured by visitors and reporters, Dr. Kroeber and Professor Waterman began to think about an appropriate name for the Indian, since he had never given them one. They knew better than to press him into revealing it, for that would have been the most serious breach of Indian etiquette. Finally, after much thought, Kroeber decided to name him Ishi, which means "man" in Yana.

As the friendships among the three men ripened, the story of Ishi was unraveled a little at a time, though all of it was never fully told. Some of it was hidden by language barriers. Some of it was too full of hurt. And some of it was taboo. For the most part, however, the Yahi was eager to share his experience with his new friends, whom he came to love.

Born in or near 1862, Ishi's every remembered thought was bound up with the first law of survival. By the time he was six years old, he had lived through the slaughter of about 98 out of every hundred of the Yanas. In 1868 he came to understand that for him and his people there could never be a place of safety. In the summer of that year, four cowpunchers came across the tracks of an injured steer. Suspecting it had been wounded by Indians, the cowboys put dogs on the trail. Early the next day the four men found a group of Yahis in a large cave on lower Mill Creek and proceeded to ruthlessly kill the entire group. When the slaughter was over, there were 33 dead Indians, and it was thought that that was the end of the pesky Yahis. Yet when the cave was revisited by whites a few days later, all of the bodies had mysteriously disappeared.

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