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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, October 08, 1911, Image 4

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1911-10-08/ed-1/seq-4/

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ISHI, THE LAST ABORIGINAL SAVAGE in AMERICA
"The Heaven of the White People," Ishi Calls the Orpheum
Grant Wallace
WITH ? broad shoulders ' squared,
head bravely thrown back and
eyes somber with fear and won
der, he pussyfooted; down the
aisle of rich plush and into his private
*-. box above the glittering splendors j of .
the Orpheum stage—lshi, the primordial
man, the only.;, really wild Indian in
existence, and the last of his tribe.
* With an assumption of stern dignity,
. yet . trembling from .burntoff/hair to
bare feet, the last of the cavemen took
his seat among the crimson plush \ dra
peries and the glittering electric lights
of the large box. At his side-were
• learned pundits, professors ,/'of; anthro
pology and ethnology. Almost touch
ing elbows with the saddle colored pri
mordial : man ' were gentlewomen of the
conquering people,' soft voiced and
beautiful, their white shoulders agleam
with flashing; Jewels.' When they gave
the ■ wild \ man a friendly nod * and * a
smile, the wild -man removed; the cigar
from his . lips, dug the broad red?toes:
of his bare feet? deeper? into ! the /plush?
carpets and smiled back at these splen
did beings of another world. ; He smiled
and nodded bravely and benignantly,
unashamed and outwardly ' serene, | yet j
Inwardly; quaking with ,so great ia; fear,
that 'a cold perspiration .beaded'?- his
forehead. And when he glanced from
the- twinkling goddesses on the Or
pheum stage? to the. thousand strange■
beings banked-below and around? and
above, him, his long tapering Angers
that might Veil have belonged to an'
THE nameless V aborigine,'
whom the - anthropologists
call lahi for convenience,
/was \j discovered /in -|a:v slaugh
; ter house - /near ?/ Oroville on
?August • 28; in the act• of stealing
meat. He is a man about -60 or
65 years old, and was ; garbed *in
, a canvas shirt when .first discov
ered. / For five -or six days ? he.
was lodged in the Oroville jail,
while * Indians! of all the surviv
ing tribes were brought in as
? interpreters, . none v,; of; .'whom:
* could make / themselves; under
stood. * Prof. T./T.t,Waterman of
• the < University . of California
; visited '.< him ? September ;'V,'-: and*
'concluded; that *he ? was] the last
survivor /of the//tribe of / South,
Yanas. supposedly extinct. Then.
■ Sam Batweei a North Yana, was
sent • f or, ; and v with some - diffi
culty they conversed upon Ishi's
past; his/ identity; and /the fate of.
his .ellow tribesmen. Accord
ing /to his / story,"< he has been '■
alone for many years, but lit • is
believed that he was one of four
Indians, J the - last of the -' Deer
creek branch ?- of the South
Yanas, driven out of a thicket
by surveyors fin Tehama • county
some months ago. ;] >;'
Following "Professor Water
man's visit, Ishi was brought to
San Francisco, and /has since
been lodged at the Anthropolog
ical ; museum south of Golden -
Gate park, where Professor
Waterman and Dr. A. L. Kro'e
ber have taken records of hist
speech and, with the help of
Batwee, have i learned as much
a* possible of his history and of
the customs of his people. ?/
He is 'still living at the mu
seum, gradually adapting him
self to the marvels of a civiliza
tion with which he was never in
touch, and has so far been a
gentle, affectionate, ? timid , old
man, the least civilized and yet
the most harmless barbarian in
the world; -,?
artist and,/ a thinker, /clutched, the
leathern arms of; his ,chair. in repressed ?
terror, -,till the ? blood was <" driven from
the slender nails./?. ? - ? . '
Cold terror sat upon him at first, but
terror bravely ? mastered * and ?■ hidden
tinder a mask of stoicism such as only
a i son '."of.' the! wilderness may. wear. It'V
was ?as ;if> you; or |I; had been /plucked??
suddenly out; of the middle /of a black;
nightmare and flung heck and crop into
a mob of • madcap - revelers '- in some
weird valley of the ; moon, our minds *;
still obfuscated with lingering doubt
as to whether we had landed in heaven
or in helL ' '. -
'/Never before had he seen? white peo
ple, .- excepting in small groups. He
could not believe . there •' were so many:
people in the world, and, knowing noth- -
ing of .paleface/ custom, : save 1 what"? he
had seen once, 40 years •ago,? when 1 the
gold '.-•: seekers ;? had slaughtered <:. prac- -?
tically all of . his i tribe before ■' eyes, ??
it is small /wonder that he misjudged
the spirit,of vaudeville. To him' the
stage was the mystery room of the
gods, the singers ;' were priests, "i the
dancers were medicine men and women,
and the orchestra was designed to drive*'
the devils out of the sick people,? whose "
grinning' and hand clapping puzzled
him sorely. Later be asked Sam Bat
wee,, the interpreter, whether the ap- v
plause helped to drive the demons
away, ,as he ihadiobserved that every
'"" " * * ■! TrTi-I,if|-|i ' WlTHHPhiw'i ■^"^|fiW|iW|jl»||| l ,TiSl^^
body ran I off the I stage when the peo-
B^ >*^«^^3Ss**4^ e,,^»Ir"^^ ■■■-■:^m '-"--.-■?■■'-*. ■-*^^^nOUHB^BBS^^M
ple - spatted ; their / hand* * together.
That trail which led down the
aTifSaforf the white man's house of.
... ' ;'.- '
frivolous medicine was the strangest
trail ever followed *by ? the ? bare feet of
thist most .amazing of; living For
two/generations this barbarian ;v had
lived -a/ life ;of terror, prowling -and
hiding In the shin oak thickets, caves
and canyons ;" of Tehama county. 'Forty
years =' ago }he had seen-' almost • the last
remnants of his proud and warlike
people slain by the "thunder sticks"
of the white settler 3. ? For forty years
he, with the three or four of his tribe
who escaped ? the heavy hand of civili
zation, led the? life of ? Crusoe
rounded'on, all sides by a sea of i white
people, yet never once seen by human
eyes in all those years. Great must
have -been the terror, that could make
them J choose ■■: solitude and cold iv* and
starvation for near ? a lifetime/ rather
than brave . the eye ( and the gun .of the
paleface.
Believing himself to be ; hunted by
the White Terror all these years, Ishi
has ; lived the i life of the hunted, the
life of i the deer, and i the rabbit. He has
subsisted ■on acorns, weed seeds, t soap
rt*^<s«i««isi!»r*fcw»i4ir;-' - - -• - , - . . -
root and such game as his arrows
could slay. Without clothing save the
skins of ) wild J beaats, bare of leg and
of head as of foot, for he had no
moccasins, he was able| to product oc
casional fire by rubbing two ? sticks to
"li..|- _ lil'Wnli.l,ll.. 1 _lUi^. ■«■!> IIIH T ■ fljWMllllsllll>WHHl'> I'LL' 1' ' n
gether, yet he denied himself even this
poor luxury, excepting In the dense
woods or on dark •nights,-'; lest il the
smokej»Vbetray'*. him. Forty - years of
solitude, of hiding, of fear, he lived;
and back of that perhaps 40,000 years
of similar tribal life of solitude, of
prowling, of terror. Of a verity, if
Ishi at the Orpheum 1 heater, ishi is in the front Of the box, wearing his best smile. Beside him is bam Batwee, the interpret* ':v j'
Back of him is Prof. Kroeber and next to Prof . Kroeber is Prof Waterman. The scientists are Ishi I custodians The lady a" the nghi »s
--—■^^=555£\\Miss Lily Lena, who joined Ishi in his box when she had finished her act on the stage Ishi declared her a '<Medicine Woman
any man In the world can be " said to
have < qualified as the abysmal" brute,
the caveman of . the ■>■ type /that .lived
50,000 ; years ago,- the primordial savage
of the st*one age, with a mind^uh- '
spoiled by contact with civilization,
Ishi is the man. f
/?: And/yet? "Ishi" is not his name. * It
is not stone age etiquette /to j tell your (
name to strangers, for any enemy who
learns your name may use It to put sat.
Jinx :? on s you— so * reasons the /, man toff
th«. wilderness. j The professors % there- ;
fore named » him Ishi, : which *he * says
■■2 means "full-grown man." ,They/had
to take his word for it, because he is
the only being alive who speaks the
language of the tribe of the South
Yanas. That is the reason the scien
tists regard him as such an amazingly
; Interesting 4 . human ■' document. ; - -When :
Ishi dies the language and traditions
-''■*-■-.--;»,-" - - ■-. ,■-•;•■■' ".*.-j,™-!--"- J. - :-r:-'. : -• ■ -J ■ M.; "
and history of his once powerful tribe
will die, too. For that reason they
are keeping him secluded in the hall
of Egyptian 1 mummies iat g the museumi
of anthropology, studying his i amaz
ingly quick ; "mental reactions" and
I persuading him to Inscribe the myths
and traditions of the Tana people on
enduring plates of rubberoid by talk
ing Into the tin funnel of a phonograph.
<*V% "■*s>iiii^«%rri"'WrwiiMiaii»rrir'fe - *--'■ •■-■*««ißsn»l«sF^"4s
Already Professor Waterman, by the
aid of Batwee, an > Interpreter who be
longs to the North Yana tribe, dis
tantly related, has secured a list of
about 2,000 word's of the hitherto un
known language, which soon will be
deader than Sanskrit. '""' ■-'■"": ■
"It is almost unbelievable," said Pro
fessor Kroeber. "Here I. a man, the
~';.'-:- "■;- ".^*r. ■*."-..'■■: -,-'- .^:; J ."" :':.':' ■; -«.-. -. r:.--» .---...-»'■:; -vi? . ■■:-:.; .-:-■;-., ■.>-. -■.v rf ;^-.» ?, >-*.:i-'::
- The San Francisco Sunday Call
-.' . .-;'".: •<■■■•.
laai remnant of a once proud and war
like tribe, who, through terror of the y
white man, ; has successfully - hidden :
himself away from human sight for 49
years. ? Surrounded on all sides by white
."> men and -; civilised „ Indians of other
tribes, he has lived like a hunted beast,
? more completely : alone than. Robinson
' Crusoe on his remote island,/ never ex
changing a word "with them, permitting
no human eye to see him. We find that
•< he : has ~ perceptive powers ? far keener
than/those of highly /educated- white
men. ;/ He ? reasons well, grasps an idea
quickly, has a keen sense of humor, is
gentle, thoughtful and courteous and
has a higher' type of mentality than
most Indians." ? / /-.;•;; '?; ?'-^X^Xa
Professor Waterman? went further,
summing up the results of his'psycho
/-logical tests" with the "statement that
"this wild man has a better head on
him than a good many college /men."
/ The university . professors, have
added Ishi to their museum of ? an
tiquities and curiosities and who are
conducting?. this series of scientific ex
; : periments on him, Justly regard him as
a unique '-: specimen /of I the / genus homo,
the which does not exist In all
?the? world. . They; call him the "uncon
; taminated man," the one man who
* (possibly from lack of opportunity, to *
talk) has never told a lie; the one man
•With/no redeeming vices and no :upset
ting sins. This conclusion was deduced
/doubtless from the fact that Ishi had
never been brought /into 1 contact with
the contaminating influences of civ
ilization; therefore /to permit the bar
; barian //to? mingle /with our tinselled
civilization is to expose him to con
tamination. ."*/
' V,lf all i these things be tru*. then I
am responsible, I doubt not, for the be
ginning of the undoing of the last/ lone -*■
spotless man, for I may as well own '
up that It was I? who inveigled him Into
, the .j tinselled / ambush ,of j the temple /of
music and /folly, gave him. the first Joy
ride between the cliff-like skyscrapers
and through dense mobs of his; ancient
enemies and prevailed on - him not to
kneel in,adoration/at .the * feet of ;the
first i white '{ goddess ;he ; had ever '■ seen,
as he was about to do, but to shake
hands with her instead. ; The paleface
goddess// it is true, ? was the ■:■' silvery
voiced and fascinating Orpheum head
liner, Lily Lena of the London * music
halls; but even after she had exchanged
the last of her half dozen Paris gowns
of /iridescent hues for a quiet; street
dress " and had tripped into Ishi's box
ana sat at his side, patting his scarred
brown hand, the cave man clung to his
delusion that Miss Lena was the great
medicine goddess of the palefaces.
But this is getting ahead of the story.
As the evening wore on his courage
rose by degrees, and he was able to
withdraw the eye of apprehension from
the sea of faces around him and to
focus his attention on the glitter and
melody and horseplay back of ; the.
footlights. When the Brazilian dan
cing men in their spangles and gay
colors began whirling their bodies over
their heads in : the mad abandon »of the
' society dance, the wild man leaned ;
far forward and fixed an unblinking
gaze upon the ? graceful ;figures;? below
him.. Suddenly the red lights
I snapped on and* the ; red spotlight made "
a. bloody moon .of f the stage setting.
\ Ishi '.?• blinked gf rapidly, gasped",? and -
gripped the arm of Professor Kroeber, A
looking around into our faces to read
what "sign" might be writ there, of ■■ '
fear or "of fortitude. We nodded and
smiled encouragement."m Hope \ and;con- "
fidence returned to him. Rosner's
i music makers % struck -/up ? a merrier
tune, and the dancers whirled 'and

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