Ishi in Two Worlds Summary – History Essay
Ishi in two worlds is a story of a Wild Indian called Ishi. He was the last survivor of Yahi Indian tribe. Ishi was found in the coral of a slaughter house in 29th of August, 1911.Then somebody on the neighborhood Telephoned
sheriff of that county, sheriff arrived and took the wild man in his custody. The sheriff took him to the Oroville county jail and locked him up. The poor wild man was very hungry and scared of white people. He had spent the last two-to-three years completely alone and was wearing traditional marks of mourning. The story of capture of wild man became the headline news in local valley papers and also reached San Francisco dailies. These stories were read by Prof Kroeber and Waterman, anthropologist at the University of California. They had particular interest in meeting this wild Indian because they already spent many days searching for wild Indians but they were always unsuccessful. After taking sheriff’s permission Waterman took him to San Francisco, university’s museum of anthropology.
Ishi was a Yahi wild Indian and use to live in Mount Lassen, Sierra Nevada and use to speak Yana language. Yana language has the strange nicety of separate dialects for women and for men. Yana customs were different for male and female. The boys and girls were not allowed to play together or sleep in the same roof once they begin to mature, it was taboo for them. Infants of both sex were cared by the mother and with an elderly women of their family and once boy turns 10 years, he use to leave with his father or any other male relative to stay with them and to learn their skills. And the girl used to stay with her mother until she got married. The most essential food of Yahi Indians was acorn flour breads or mush. After acorns their most liked food was salmon, fresh or dried, deer meat, again fresh or dried, ducks and geese and different types of nuts and roots. In Yahi culture they use to burn dead people and afterwards collected their ashes and bones which they buried under a rock cairn to mark the grave and to keep away from animals.
The destruction of Yana was started in year 1844, when a spate of land grants was made by the Mexican government in the Sacramento valley bordering on Yana country. In 1850, the Yana’s occupied 2,000 to 2,400 square miles of land recognized as their own, and then they spread in four different cultural groups in neighboring places. But, in 1872, only one group left out of four groups and that was the Yahi group. The Anglo- Saxons reversed the population of whites to Indians by coming in larger numbers as many as hundred thousand of them in single year. There were usually racist and they thought any skin other than white skin is inferior to them. They wanted to use Indians as slaves, laborer or concubine.
So, white men started threatening and killing Indians. The ratios by meager Yana data shows that, one white person murdered for every thirty to fifty Indians. And the estimated numbers of kidnapping of Indian children by whites in California is and sold them as slaves or used them for cheap help; between the years 1852 and 1867 was three to four thousand. Every Indian women, girls and girl-child was been repeatedly raped and was forced into prostitution. The Caucasians also brought common diseases with them like measles, chicken pox, smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid, dysentery, influenza, pneumonia and other transferable deadly diseases. This diseases killed number of Indians through several generations. After this destruction the Yana’s who were still alive started destroying white people out of revenge. Indians also started raiding white’s colonies for food and clothes. Against this the white people raided their villages and killed them brutally and hanged them. By 1865 the northern, central, and southern Yana were abolished from the struggle and only the Yahi’s remained. After all these attack at last only five people managed to escape and survived, the small child Ishi, his cousin, other young boy from different family ,Ishi’s mother and a old man. All of them lived several years secretly, hiding from white people. The young boy with them died after sometime, he was sick and his mother and old man also died after several years due to old age. Then in other incident Ishi and his sister took different routes to escape, but unfortunately she never returned. Now, Ishi was the only wild Indian who survived and due to hunger and frustration he started searching for food and ended up in coral of a slaughter house. He was resting on the coral because he was very tired of walking from so long. From there his journey to white-mans world started.
From the Oroville county jail, Waterman took him to San Francisco. From 1911-1916, Ishi lived at the Anthropology Museum of the University of California in San Francisco. In the museum he met Professor A. L. Kroeber, who would become his big chief. Later on Kroeber forced him to tell his Yahi name but he never revealed his own Yahi name. As he was unable to tell his name, Kroeber gave him a name called Ishi meaning “man” in Yana. Ishi’s lifestyle was changed as whit-men, he started wearing coats and later on boots and he liked them. Ishi got many friends in museum and some of them were very close to him. Few of his closest friends were Batwi who was his interpreter, Kroeber, Thomas.T.Waterman and Dr. Saxton Pope who lived next door to the museum. Next several weeks Kroeber and Ishi were at the museum on Sunday afternoons. Large amount of visitors use to come to see Ishi. Later on, Ishi was appointed as an assistant janitorial in museum at a salary of twenty-five dollars a month which was sufficient for his survival in city. Ishi use to make Indian tools for the museum and slowly with time, he also improved his English vocabulary. Government asked him if he want to go back to his native place or want to live with other Indian tribes. But he denied going back. He wanted to live like a white-man and died like them. He spends his next three years sharing his stories with Kroeber and others. He died on March 25, 1916 due to tuberculosis. And that was the end of last Yahi wild Indian.