Friday, 27 August 2010

On This Day 1911: Ishi Stepped Out Of The Stone Age

A victim of genocide, born on the run from an encroaching culture that was totally alien to the frame of reference he'd have known. Fresh out of options, he turned to face the very thing he'd run from his whole life, and one afternoon; bewildered and exhausted Ishi stepped out of the stone age and into the 20th century. He was imprisoned, poked, prodded, and gawped at. Then at last, protected, befriended and given the welcome such a stranger deserves.

... Somehow, despite Ishi having endured the horrors and hardships of seeing his people murdered, and continuously aware that Americans might find and kill him too, Ishi continued to accept life as each new day came his way. Even after every other person in his clan was gone, Ishi lived on alone like a signal beautiful flower firmly accorded in the soil of a hillside that had already eroded away. Indeed, “a unique gentlemanliness… beyond all civilized breeding and training… an outward expression of a pure inward spirit…”

Theodore T. Waterman, Professor of Anthropology at Berkeley

I first read Ishi's story in the amazing 'Hunting with the bow and arrow'. Inspired by Ishi and the spirit of Robin Hood. The surgeon, bow hunter, and Edwardian wag Dr Saxton Pope offers this thesis on bow craft and hunting as taught to him by Ishi. Thanks to the non-profit Guttenberg project the book can be downloaded for free or you can read the review

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Le Loup said...

Thanks for the link.

Josh said...

SBW, you really should get out here to California. I'd even take you bowhunting where Ishi may have hunted...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

My pleasure

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I'm actually on my way, I'm just traveling extremely slowly, so slowly that i haven't left london yet.

Deus Ex Machina said...

Thank you for the link. I need to read this. Bowhunting season is getting reay to start here in Maine, too.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Deus Ex Machina

You're gonna love it, think of Pope as the Edwardian blogger.

Tovar said...

Thanks, SBW. A good reminder. As I've mentioned on your blog before, I read books on Ishi when I was a boy and was deeply moved by his story.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Thanks, I'm glad i'm not the only one