About the Yahi


Ancestral Native American Yahi (Ishi's)Tribe Camp 1500 – 2500 years ago in upper Sacramento River Valley, Northern California

The Yahi were the last free-living tribe in the west.  Ishi was the last known living member of this purely tribal culture.  In 1871, what was thought to be the last of the Yahi tribe were trapped in a cave and massacred (even the babies).  A small group of Yahi (including Ishi) was not in the cave at the time.  For forty years, Ishi and his small group hid in the lava and brush covered canyons of Tehama County.

In 1908, some surveyors ran into the hidden camp of the Yahi tribe.  Three of the four surviving members of the tribe escaped into the brush.  The fourth was too old to run away.  After a few days or weeks, only Ishi remained of his small tribe.   The surveyors had taken everything that the Native group had stockpiled to survive the winter.

On August 29th 1911, Ishi, gave up looking for any survivors of his tribe, ending over 4,000 years of the Yahi living in harmony with the land.

Each family would have had its own fire pit.  They also had their own basic set of ground stone food processing implements.  These would have included a bowl mortar, metate with mano stone, and hopper mortar base with basket.  Each female had her own pestle.

The large number of shaped artifacts shown here reflects the use by a lot of family groups that used this area for their winter camp.  The Yahi’s winter camp was where they spent most of the year.  Summer was spent in the high mountains.  They would have cached most of their shaped ground stone implements at this winter camp.   If something happened to the family those implements would have become lost and buried.  

The camp is set up in a way to best show all of the artifacts found in this area.  An actual Yahi camp would have had more of a rounded look.

Note: I asked the experts at U.C. Berkley to put their Yahi artifacts with the ones I have, and help me to make an actual campsite but they declined. I did the best I could by myself.