Ishi In Two Worlds Book Analysis

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Ishi in Two Worlds depicts the life story of Ishi, the last survivor of the Indian Yana tribe, who emerged starving in the northern California town of Oroville in 1911 after being captured. Written by Theodora Kroeber—UC Berkeley graduate, writer, anthropologist, and wife of Alfred Kroeber (leading anthropologist during the time, and one of Ishi’s close friend) – the book delivers a humane study, and the valid, realistic past history which in turn explains the treatment of Ishi’s people. Among some of Theodora Kroeber’s works are her first book, The Inland Whale (1959), a collection of California Indian myths, and Alfred Kroeber, a Personal Configuration, which, for anthropologists, remains an astonishing accomplishment (Mandelbaum 238). Ishi …show more content…
The book overall is divided into two sections-- Part One: Ishi the Yahi, and Part Two: Mister Ishi. In Part One, Kroeber paints the realistic picture of the lives of Indians during the time when white men began to predominate the lands, specifically the times during the Gold Rush (1848- 1855). Kroeber goes in- depth delivering Yana history, customs, geography and languages during this section. For example, Kroeber lists the Yana’s preference for “acorn flour, their lack of weapons of war, the fact at they were sub- divided into four groups (Ishi being part of the Yahi) and, also, the fact that Yana men and Yana women had two different dialects” (21). Apart from the informative aspects of the section regarding Yana culture, Kroeber also provides insight into one of her major points-- Ishi’s reasons for avoiding white man’s civilization until pushed to his limits. Kroeber goes in depth regarding the discrimination the Yana Indians had to face during the bloody years of “Yana history (1850- 1872), in which girls were subject to repeated rape, to kidnapping, and to prostitution” (46). The 1860-70’s were the years when “the clash between Indians and whites in California reached a climax of fear and fury” (Kroeber 79). It was the white man’s coming that not only brought diseases previously unknown to the original settlers (such as chicken pox, dysentery, influenza, etc), but also “forced migrations,” …show more content…
Being organized in chronological order, the book is an easy to follow reading, delivering a rich, in- depth look into the conflicts between Indians and the white man. The author’s incorporation of illustrations regarding maps, Ishi himself, his bow and arrow techniques, along with the many others which at one point in time determined his well- being, prove to be enrichments for the public’s knowledge today, and will continue to be for generations to come. The author’s use of letters between Alfred Kroeber and certain other individuals regarding concerns for Ishi’s well-being come to show that he was a deeply appreciated

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