Ishi: Last of His Tribe recounts the life of Ishi, a Native American of the nowextinct Yahi tribe of northern California. This historical narrative explains the major events leading to the death of Ishi's small community made up of his grandparents; a warrior, Timawi, whose Bushki tribe had already perished; his elder uncle; his cousin Tushi; his mother; and himself. Because Ishi told his own story to the curator of the Museum of Anthropology of the University of California, the suspenseful events, customs, and descriptions Kroeber relates resound with the trueto- life simplicity and honesty of the historical protagonists. This sad story invites the reader to live in the wilds with Ishi and experience his longings for a peaceful existence removed from the ravaging of the saldu, or white man. Kroeber portrays each of the supporting characters—the grandparents, Ishi's mother, elder uncle, Timawi, and Tushi—clearly and sympathetically, both as group members fulfilling specific roles in the community and as individuals with personal desires and hopes. Although the writing is never cloying or sentimental, the tragedy of each lost life is deeply moving.
Despite the wanton murders of their people by gold-seeking white men, the small group of Yahi keep reminding themselves that not all white men are evil and that each must be evaluated upon his own merit. This belief allows Ishi, the sole surviving Yahi, to live among the white men and memorialize his...
(The entire section is 296 words.)