Additional artifacts commemorate 100th anniversary of Ishi’s discovery in “California Indians: Making A Difference”
Sound recording, photographs and historical news articles enhance exhibit and address myths surrounding “The Last Wild Indian In North America”
Additional artifacts commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Ishi will be installed on Monday, August 29, 2011, in The California Museum’s exhibition, “California Indians: Making A Difference.”
Perhaps California’s best-know and most misunderstood Native, Ishi was determined to be “the last wild Indian in North America” when he stumbled into an Oroville rancher’s barn starving and unable to speak English or a known Native language on August 28, 1911. Cited for vagrancy, Ishi was held in the Oroville county jail until San Francisco anthropologists T.T. Waterman and Alfred Kroeber determined him to be from and speak a dialect of a previously unknown Yana tribe in the Deer Creek region. An overnight media sensation, newspapers across the country were quick to emphasize Ishi’s primitiveness and hastily conclude his lack of tribe members was the result of his Native people’s extinction.
Under authorization from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC, Waterman and Kroeber brought Ishi to the University of California’s Associated Colleges Museum in San Francisco, where he worked as a living diorama until his death in 1916, teaching the world much about his Native customs and culture during the 5 years at the museum.
Over time, Ishi’s continued sensationalized media coverage on the progression of his assimilation into American culture made him an icon and a symbol of the purported disappearance of Native Americans. As modern anthropologists have determined 100 years later, however, many Indians went into hiding and later married into other tribes, where they not only survived but continue to thrive in modern day California.
Enhancements to the Ishi’s display in “California Indians: Making A Difference” addressing the myths surrounding “The Last Wild Indian in North America” include:
- Fur cape of bobcats and raccoons taken from the Deer Creek cave Ishi lived in
- Arrowhead made during his time in San Francisco from a Clorox bleach bottle as given to a young patient the Associated College’s hospital Ishi befriended
- Historical newspaper accounts and photographs depicting Ishi’s journey from his 1911 discovery in Oroville to his 1916 death in San Francisco
- Recording of Ishi telling oral traditions “Doctor’s Song For Sucking Sickness” and “Thunder Song” added to exhibit’s oral history series documenting histories of 14 Native Californians across the state.
Monday, August 29, 2011, at 10:00am
The California Museum, 1020 O Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
About The California Museum:
The California Museum — home of the California Hall of Fame — engages, educates and enlightens people about California’s rich history and unique contributions to the world through ideas, innovation, the arts and culture. Through interactive and innovative experiences, the Museum inspires men, women and children to dream the California dream and dares them to make their own mark on history. Open Monday-Saturday: 10:00am-5:00pm; Sunday: 12:00pm-5:00pm. Admission: Adults $8.50; Seniors/College Students with valid ID $7.00; Youth 6-13 $6.00; Kids 5 and under free. For more information, visit: CaliforniaMuseum.org