Friday, April 22, 2011

Ishi Updated

If you have never heard the story of Ishi, the "last wild Indian" in the United States, then I highly recommend that you read this article. If you have read that anthropological classic Ishi in Two Worlds by Theodora Kroeber, then the article provides some interesting updates and new information on Ishi and his remarkable life based on the research carried out by anthropologist Richard Burrill.
The story of Ishi is familiar in part because it’s so remarkable. Known across California and beyond as the “last wild Indian,” he simply walked out of the wilderness one hot August day in 1911 and into civilization. He was 49 years old, or so they estimated, and he was to become one of the most famous Native Americans in history.

What seems to surprise people about Ishi was his ability to embrace Western culture while remaining true to himself. He wasn’t the “savage” that people thought he would be; he was amazingly similar in emotions and behaviors to the white anthropologists who became his friends.

"We make a big thing about these people being Russian, or these people being Indian. But we all have the same basic needs—we all cry, we all laugh,” said Richard Burrill, a teacher and author who’s been writing about Ishi for decades. “There are many more similarities than differences, and that’s what anthropology teaches us.”
The entire article can be accessed HERE.

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