August 29, 2011

"Wild Man Caught"--August 29, 1911

California Museum opening exhibit on 100th anniversary of day Ishi was found

By Stephen MagagniniExactly 100 years ago, a starving Indian who spoke no recognizable language was captured near an Oroville slaughterhouse.

Here's how The Bee described the incident in its Aug. 29, 1911 edition: "Wild Man Caught In Suburbs of Oroville–Evidently Last of Savage Tribe of Deer Creek Indians."

The Indians–members of the Yahi and Yana tribes–had been massacred in 1865, 1866 and 1871. A few survivors hid out near Mill Creek east of Red Bluff.

Sheriff's deputies fed the rangy, famished native doughnuts and beans–he preferred doughnuts–and turned him over to San Francisco anthropologists T.T. Waterman and Alfred Kroeber, who called him "Ishi," meaning man in Ishi's Yahi dialect.

Today, the California Museum unveils a new exhibit honoring Ishi, California's most famous and misunderstood Indian.

The sensational headlines–and his reputation as a noble savage–made him one of the most beloved American Indians, celebrated in books, plays and film.

Kroeber, one of the fathers of modern anthropology, proclaimed Ishi "the last wild Indian of North America." His story has been taught to generations of California schoolchildren. But he wasn't the last of his tribe, and likely was not a full-blooded Yahi.

The exhibit helps unravel the mystery of Ishi, who learned some English but never revealed his real name.
Speeches, receptions mark 100th anniversary of the discovery of Ishi

By Robin EpleySunday's 100th anniversary of the discovery of the last Yahi Native American known as Ishi was a day of both celebration and respectful remembrance for the town of Oroville.

A day of speeches, receptions, museum visits and gatherings marked the anniversary, hosted by the Butte County Historical Society.

Starting at 10 a.m. at Bicentennial Park, a reception with local historians, artists and researchers was held in a sort of question and answer session for the community. Many new facts have been found about Ishi in years past, and much of the legends surrounding his life before he was found in Oroville are untrue. Richard Burrill, a local author and historian, was also there to speak about his book on the subject, "Ishi's Untold Story."

Afterwards, a walking tour of Oroville as it was in 1911, and how Ishi would have seen it during his first week in modern society, was provided. A reception at the Ehmann Home, across the street from what was the Oroville Jail cell where Ishi was held, provided a chance for Oroville residents to share their memories of the man who made their town famous.
Comment:  For more on Ishi, see 100th Anniversary of IShi's Emergence and Ideas for Ishi Statue.

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