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Thousands of people showed up at the museum to watch Ishi drilling fire and making arrowheads, or followed his adventures through the local press, which documented every outing to Golden Gate Park, the theater and upscale social events. In May-June , Kroeber persuaded Ishi to join a small expedition to his homeland in order to document place names, diet and topography.
Sackman takes us on a journey to this camp-out by assembling a scrapbook and album of original photographs, including a snapshot of Ishi in loincloth gazing at Kroeber posing in the nude. All the world was alive. All the world was watchful. You had to respect it.
The case for the inner Kroeber identifying with Ishi is rather thin. We propose to stand by our friends.
But he was not immune to racialized imagery, a topic that Sackman tends to sidestep. This is wishful thinking.
Tony Platt on Ishi -- the Last of the Yahi - Truthdig
Throughout most of his lifetime, the popular press and publishing industry saturated a large and receptive audience of readers with relentlessly racist images of native peoples as stupid and brutish, backward, a drag on progress, childlike and predisposed to extinction. Sackman argues, as have others, that Kroeber was propelled into a personal crisis after the death from pneumonia of his first wife, Henriette, in and of Ishi two years later, and by news of the carnage taking place in Europe during World War 1 his parents were immigrants from Germany.
Alfred Kroeber, a prominent anthropologist, secured Ishi's passage from Oroville to San Francisco, where Ishi became a resident of the Museum of Anthropology. For the remainder of Ishi's life, Kroeber, and others, endeavored to capture the language, history, and culture of this living artifact.
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Important Message. Wild men: ishi and kroeber in the wilderness of modern america by Douglas Cazaux Sackman.
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