Ishi, the Last Yahi

“Ishi’s story is especially relevant today when society is so polarized with debates about race and ethnicity” – Jed Riffe, for the Indian Country Today Media Network

    Ishi, the Last Yahi begins in 1492 when there were more than ten million Native Americans in North America. By 1910, their numbers had been reduced to fewer than 300,000. In California, massacres of Indians in the 1860s and 1870s had nearly exterminated the Native peoples in the state. Therefore the sudden appearance in northern California in 1911 of Ishi, “the last wild Indian in North America,” stunned the nation. For more than 40 years, Ishi had lived in hiding with a tiny band of survivors. When he walked into the white man’s world, he was the last Yahi Indian alive.

It is haunting, captivating, inspiring, and tragic. An excellent presentation of human drama. We whole-heartedly recommend this as required material for anyone at all interested in Ishi’s story. – Mohican Press

    For young anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, Ishi’s appearance was a windfall. Kroeber had been searching for years to find “wild, uncontaminated Indians” who could document their traditional way of life. Through Kroeber’s invitation, Ishi left a jail cell and lived out the remaining four years of his life as an informant and teacher at the Museum of Anthropology in San Francisco. Ishi dedicated those years to relating Yahi stories and demonstrating the traditional way of life he knew so well. His quiet dignity and remarkable lack of bitterness toward the people who had destroyed his tribe greatly impressed everyone who met him.

Ishi poster

Release date: 1992
Director: Jed Riffe
Producer: Jed Riffe

Emmy Nomination-Outstanding Historical Program
1994 National News and Documentary Emmy Awards
National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
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Gold CINDY Award of Merit
Special Awards: for Writing, Directing and Editing
1995 Association of Visual Communicators
Outstanding Documentary
1994 Western Heritage Awards
National Cowboy Hall of Fame
Golden Eagle
1994 CINE, Washington, D.C.
Prix Planète-Cable
1994 Tréizième Bilan Du Film Ethnographique
The Musée De L’homme, Paris, France
Best Documentary Film (Long): Produced by Non-Indians
1994 Red Earth
Der Ted – Audience Choice–Best Independent Film
The 1993 Munich International Film Festival
1994 Red Earth
Selected for Exhibition
1994 Margaret Mead Film Festival
Best Of Festival
1993 National Educational Film And Video Festival
Gold Hugo – Best History/Biography
The 1993 Chicago International Film Festival
Certificate of Merit
29th Annual Gabriel Awards, Unda USA
Honorable Mention
1993 Society Of Visual Anthropology Film Festival
American Anthropological Association
Best Documentary Film (Short)
1992 American Indian Film And Video Festival, San Francisco
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