October 2, 2012.
Lecture 4 – Language and Culture + Film: Ishi, the Last Yahi
Mid 19 century world exhibitions of diverse cultures and displays of rising technology (largely
to do with building structural marvels in exhibition cities)
Language is more than just sound and phonetics, has to be experienced in use, how words are
used, dialect, emphasis, etc.
Intro writing something about Columbus severely depleting the local population with disease
and such, didn’t finish reading, 10 000 000 to 300 0000
Ishi the last of the Deer Creek Tribe who still speaks his native language, rest are dead
Anthropologists worked with him to try and communicate with him after three years of not
hearing a language he could understand
Interpreter hired, but spoke different dialect, still managed to recognize Ishi as Yahi
Alfred Kroeber named him Ishi, the Yahi word for “man”
Culture found in things/objects, language, kinship, canoe types
Kroeber telegraphed Dr. Edward Sapir, expert linguist, could not come
Ishi refused to answer questions about his past
Ishi spent 6 hours telling the story of “Wood Duck”, story of how he wooed his wife?
400 people made the Deer Creek Tribe originally, gold rush and swarm of new settlers ruined
their home land for them
White settlers killed off all the deer, replaced them with cattle and sheep
White men would band together to kill off natives, this was legal and sometimes even paid work
Kroeber opened muse