Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the Wilderness of Modern America

Paperback | January 14, 2011

byDouglas Cazaux Sackman

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When Ishi, "the last wild Indian," came out of hiding in August of 1911, he was quickly whisked away by train to San Francisco to meet Alfred Kroeber, one of the fathers of American anthropology. When Kroeber and Ishi came face to face, it was a momentous event, not only for each man, but forthe cultures they represented. Each stood on the brink: one was in danger of losing something vital while the other was in danger of disappearing altogether.Ishi was a survivor, and viewed the bright lights of the big city with a mixture of awe and bemusement. What surprised everyone is how handily he adapted himself to the modern city while maintaining his sense of self and his culture. He and his people had ingeniously used everything they could gettheir hands on from whites to survive in hiding, and now Ishi was doing the same in San Francisco. The wild man was in fact doubly civilized -- he had his own culture, and he opened himself up to that of modern America. Kroeber was professionally trained to document Ishi's culture, his civilization.What he didn't count on was how deeply working with the man would lead him to question his own profession and his civilization -- how it would rekindle a wildness of his own.Though Ishi's story has been told before in film and fiction, Wild Men is the first book to focus on the depth of Ishi and Kroeber's friendship and to explore what their intertwined stories tell us about Indian survival in modern America and about America's fascination with the wild even as it wasbecoming ever-more urban and modern. Wild Men is about two individuals and two worlds intimately brought together in ways that turned out to be at once inspiring and tragic. Each man stood looking at the other from the opposite edge of a chasm: they reached out in the hope of keeping the other fromfalling in.

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When Ishi, "the last wild Indian," came out of hiding in August of 1911, he was quickly whisked away by train to San Francisco to meet Alfred Kroeber, one of the fathers of American anthropology. When Kroeber and Ishi came face to face, it was a momentous event, not only for each man, but forthe cultures they represented. Each stood on...

Douglas Sackman is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Puget Sound.

other books by Douglas Cazaux Sackman

Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 6.75 × 4.75 × 0.68 inPublished:January 14, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019517853X

ISBN - 13:9780195178531

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Table of Contents

Prologue: One Small Step1. The Yahi in Three Worlds2. The Anthropologist in Three Worlds3. "Worlds of Stuff"4. Making Tracks5. City Lights6. Nature Walks in the City and the Sierras7. The Call of the Wild8. Death MaskEpilogue: The Hearth of Prometheus and the Wilderness of Ishi