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CALIFORNIA HISTORY - Essay Example

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In relating the history of California, the Yahi community is a major feature. Before the 1848-1855 California Gold Rush this group had a population of about 400. The Yahi was a group of the larger Yana people. …
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CALIFORNIA HISTORY

Download file to see previous pages... The gold rush saw the influx of people into the region, and the Native Americans found they were under pressure in their home. The native populations decreased at an alarming rate due to the destruction of natural resources. In the process of mining gold, water resources were damaged and the fish which the natives fed on died. Other game such as deers which were a source of food also left because of the increasing human population. Under this strain, the native population moved deeper into the forest areas as their numbers diminished. In 1911, however, a man belonging to this tribe emerged from the Mount Lassen region. Since he did not have a name the anthropologists named him Ishi. He was the last man of the Yana tribe. The story of Ishi is fundamental in the history of California since it gives the roots of the people in that region. It has, however, been said that retelling of the story by anthropologists such as Theodora are attempts to elicit sympathy for the Native American population. The Native American tribes that have since gone extinct are described as ignoble savages. They are believed to have had no art, religion, technology or government that warranted them to be called a culture. They are thought by some people to have been unworthy inhabitants of California region since they did not develop the natural resources of the place. This, in my opinion, is a mistaken view of the Native American. ...
Culture takes into account the ability to learn. When Ishi came into contact with civilization, he was able to be integrated. He learnt their behavioural patterns, and started to act like one of them. This shows that these natives had the ability to learn. The only difference is that what he had to learn in his society was different from the things he could learn from the civilized world. Ishi was a man of Stone Age culture but that made him no less of a human being. The customs of the Yana separated males and females. At a tender age they were cared for by their mothers but at the age of ten, the separation was implemented. Boys and girls were then neither allowed to sleep, or play together. The boys left with their fathers or any other male relative so as to learn the necessary skills. This differentiation based on gender roles makes the Yana a society that understood what sex roles meant. This was a vital feature of their culture. The separation of the sexes was to the extent that male and female dialects of the language were different (Kroeber and Kroeber). Life and death was sacred to these people as evidenced by the practices they kept. When someone died, they were burnt and the remains buried under a rock. This marked the grave, and kept the animals away from the bones. This practice of burning the dead is still practiced in today’s society. The reasons are different though for this. They had their own way of acknowledging life and death. They realized the different genders and assigned societal roles along the same lines. Claiming that these people did not have aspects of life that warranted them to be a culture is a mistaken view. Art varies from society to the next. The Yahi community had a different kind of Art ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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