Thursday, August 31, 2017

A short but very rewarding read

Somehow, through Gorges Grouse, I linked through to Hermit Jim's post on Ishi, a California indian discovered still living the wild life back in the early 1900's, long after everyone else had transitioned, more or less, into the modern world.  

It's a truly fascinating read, tragic in it's way, but full of the interesting interaction between Ishi himself and his modern friends.  The story of the fate of his people, his family, and ultimately of his own journey to the modern world, is unforgettable.

Ishi, by the way, wasn't his name.  It means "man" in his native language.  This particular brand of indians believed it was very rude to ask for someone's real name, and bad karma to give it, as it imparted untoward power to the person who knew it.  We'll never know Ishi's real name, as he never told anyone what it was.

Well worth your time to read.  


  1. I read the book some time ago as part of a school reading assignment.

    When you read t-shirts in every nation on Earth (with the possible exception of North Korea and Cuba) and realize that they're in written English for the most part, you realize that culture is fungible and mankind is adaptable to the more appealing and well marketed societies.

    1. And he should be. In spite of all the hullaballoo over cultural appropriation, that's exactly what mankind ought to be doing - adopt what works better and abandon what doesn't.

  2. I also read the book in IIRC elementary school, though I can't remember if it was assigned or if I just read it on my own. Interesting (to me at least) factoid: Theodora Kroeber was the mother of science-fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin. Theodora was married to Alfred Louis Kroeber, a professor of anthropology and director of the UC Museum of Anthropology that Hermit Jim refers to. In fact, the Wikipedia entry for AL Kroeber has a photograph of him standing with Ishi.

  3. How do I get a copy of this book? Thank You in advance.

  4. Worked with a guy named Jim Davis who helped in some research for an edition of this book. Ishi inspired me to take up making glass arrow points.

  5. The guy I learned flint knapping from also taught Jane Auel of Clan of the Cave Bear. I'll get his name when I return home.

  6. Errett Callahan. Crazy dude but been at it a looong time.