Skip navigation

Ishi: The Last Yahi

Ishi: The Last Yahi

A comprehensive bibliography of resources available for the study of Ishi, the Last Yahi. For more detailed information about Ishi, visit the UCSF History Site.

Print material concerning Ishi and the Yahi Indians can be located in the UCSF Library catalog.  Manuscript materials can be found at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. Yahi artifacts and tools created by Ishi can be studied at the UC Berkeley Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

Ishi: The Last Yahi

In August 1911, Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi Indian tribe, walked out of the foothills near Mount Lassen -- leaving behind his Stone Age world -- and entered twentieth-century California society. From 1911-1916, Ishi resided at the Anthropology Museum of the University of California Affiliated Colleges on Parnassus Heights in San Francisco (now the site of UCSF), sharing knowledge about his culture and beliefs with Anthropologists Alfred L. Kroeber and Theodore T. Waterman, as well as Surgeon Saxton T. Pope.

Ishi
L-R: Sam Batwi (Northern/Central Yana Indian), Dr. A.L. Kroeber (University of California Anthropologist), and Ishi (Yahi or Southern Yana Indian), 1911. Photo credit: UC Berkeley, Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.


Graciously collaborating with the anthropologists, Ishi provided insight about his language, a dialect presumed lost until his emergence from the Mill Creek region of California. Free to return to his homelands, Ishi chose to remain at the museum as a living interpreter of his culture. Exposed to a society hosting diseases foreign to the Yahi, Ishi contracted tuberculosis and died on March 25, 1916, at the medical college on Parnassus. Ishi left behind a legacy of invaluable information about his people, and provided a shining example of a courageous human spirit bridging the divide between two worlds.

Published Resources at Archives & Special Collections, UCSF

Burrill, Richard. Ishi: America's Last Stone Age Indian. Sacramento, CA: The Anthro Company, 1990.


Doss, Margot Patterson. Ishi's Walk.
Kroeber, A. L. The Mill Creek Indians and Ishi. University of California, 1972.


Kroeber, Theodora. Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America. Berkeley: University California Press, 1963.


Liapes, Michele. Ishi's Cave: A Sutro Legend. UCSF Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 1,4, May 1983.


Pope, Saxton T. The Medical History of Ishi. American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. 13, No. 5, pp. 175-213, May 15, 1920.


Wray, Clare Leeds. Ishi and His Friends. UCSF Alumni News, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 8-11, Fall 1984.

Unpublished Resources at the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

 
Records of the Department of Anthropology, 1901-[ongoing]
Description: 59 boxes (73.75 linear ft.)
 
Organization: Series 1: Syllabi and exam questions, 1902-1948; series 2 reports and correspondence, 1901-1911; series 3, museum and departmental accounts, 1904-1939; series 4: Pliny Earl Goddard correspondence, 1903-1909; series 5: correspondence, 1912; series 6: correspondence 1913-1957; series 7: museum acquisitions; series 8: E.W. Gifford corespondence from UC archaeological expeditions, 1946-1956; series 9: student files (RESTRICTED).
 
Call numbers: NRLF W 95 435 Request item at UCB Bancroft Library.
 
Edward Winslow Gifford correspondence, 1916-1955
Description: 1 portfolio
 
Notes: Included in History of Science and Technology Collection. Mainly correspondence with Edward Sapir concerning kinship terms and American Indian linguistics. Also included are letter from Hubert Gregory, William Egbert Schenck and Herbert L. Mason.
 
Call numbers: UCB Bancroft BANC MSS C-B 768
 
A.L. Kroeber papers, 1869-1972
Description: Originals: 38 boxes, 21 cartons, 14 volumes, 8 oversize folders ca. 44 linear ft.)
Copies: 185 microfilm reels: negative (Rich. 1840) and positive (BANC FILM 2049)
 
Notes: Kroeber conducted field work with several Klamath River groups, including the Karok, Wiyot, and Yurok Indians; the Yokuts Indians of Central California; with Ishi, the last member of the Yahi band of the Sacramento Valley; the Mohave Indians of the Colorado River region; and the Zuni Indians of New Mexico, among many other groups. He also carried out archaeological field work in Mexico and Peru. He published more that 500 books and articles on anthropological topics, and served as an expert witness in the Indian land claims cases Clyde F. Thompson et. al. v. United States, Docket No. 31, and Ernest Risling et. al. v. United States, Docket 37.
 
Call numbers: UCB Archv Neg Box 1840 Non-circulating archival film copy. Stored at SRLF. Note: Archival film UCB Bancroft BANC FILM 2049 Note: Positive microfilm. NRLF Y 6 829 8 oversize folders in oversize drawers Request item at UCB Bancroft Library.

Resources in Melvyl, the Online Catalog of the University of California

Search the Melvyl Catalog for availability and locations of these materials.

Allan-Meyer, Kathleen, 1918-. Ishi /, by Kathleen Allan Meyer. Minneapolis, Minn.: Dillon Press, c1980. 70 p.

Apperson, Eva Marie. "We knew Ishi", by Eva Marie Apperson. Red Bluff, Ca.: Walker Lithograph, c1971. 101 p.

Gifford, Edward Winslow, 1887-. Vocabulary from Ishi (Yahi-Yana), E.W. Gifford. Berkeley, CA: California Indian Library Collections [distributor], 1992.

Ishi, d. 1916. Tale of lizard. Ishi's tale of Lizard /, translated by Leanne Hinton; illustrations by Susan L. Roth. 1st ed. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1992.

Ishi in two worlds, Richard Tomkins, producer. New York: Contemporary Films, 1967. 1 film reel (19 min.): sd., col.; 16 mm. MOTION PICTURE.

Ishi sampler tape, Yahi Berkeley: Lowie Museum of Anthropology, University of California, [1981-1982?] 1 sound cassette (ca. 60 min.): analog, 1 7/8 ips. SOUND RECORDING.

Ishi, the last Yahi, produced and directed by Jed Riffe and Pamela Roberts; written by Ann Makepeace. Newton, N.J.: Shanachie Entertainment Corp., c1994. 1 videocassette (ca. 60 min.): sd., col. with b&w sequences; 1/2 in. VHS. VIDEORECORDING.

Ishi, the last Yahi: a documentary history /, edited by Robert F. Heizer and Theodora Kroeber. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1979. viii, 242 p.

Kroeber, Theodora. The hunter, Ishi /, Theodora Kroeber. Berkeley, CA: California Indian Library Collections Project [distributor], 1989. p. 408-418.

Kroeber, Theodora. Ishi in two worlds: a biography of the last wild Indian in North America /, With a foreword by Lewis Gannett. Berkeley : University of California Press, 1962 [c1961] 255 p.

Kroeber, Theodora. Ishi, last of his tribe., Drawings by Ruth Robbins. Berkeley, Calif., Parnassus Press 1964. 209 p.

Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968. Ishi means man: [essays] /, Thomas Merton; foreword by Dorothy Day; woodblock by Rita Corbin. Greensboro, N.C.: Unicorn Press, c1976. 71 p.

Nelson, N. C. b. 1875. Flint working by Ishi /, by Nels C. Nelson. Berkeley, CA: California Indian Library Collections Project [distributor], 1989. p. 397-402.

The Obsidian flaked lithic technology of Ishi. Berkeley: Lowie Museum of Anthropology: California Indian Library Collections [distributor], [1990] [6] p.

Olivet Memorial Park, Colma, Calif. Last of the Yana Indians: Ishi, the last known stone age survivor in North America and the last wild Indian. [Colma, Calif., 196-?] [7] p.

Petersen, David, 1946-. Ishi: the last of his people /, by David Petersen. Chicago: Childrens Press, c1991. 30 p.

Pope, Saxton T. 1875-1926. Hunting with Ishi, the last Yana Indians /, Saxton T. Pope. Berkeley, CA: California Indian Library Collections Project [distributor], 1989. p. [153]-173

Shackley, M. Steven. The stone tool technology of Ishi /, by M. Steven Shackley. Berkeley, CA: California Indian Library Collections [distributor], 1992. [5] p.

Yana (Ishi) Indians Berkeley, Calif.: California Indians Library Collections, 1993. 381 photographic prints: b&w