The Last Yahi

Nov 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 13-2: The Power of Partnerships, Media Reviews

by L.D. Holcomb
Writers Club Press, 2000
255 pages

Review by Rick Heredia

This absorbing work of historical fiction is based on the life of Ishi, the last Yahi Indian, who surfaced in Oroville, CA, in 1911. After years of hiding, hunger and loneliness drove him into the hands of the whites. The narrative follows Yolaina—“Bravest Man”—from his birth to his surrender years.

The author captures the nuances of daily life for Yolaina’s band of Yahi. Readers get a strong sense of their personalities, fears, troubles, joys, frustrations, passions, and humor. Early in the story, the band faces a dilemma: to fight back against the whites to try and scare them into leaving Yahi land or to become invisible by hiding deep in the canyons and forests.

Yolaina’s parents dream that their infant son will grow up to know peace, but that is shattered: Genocide takes its toll. He passes into history as Ishi, the last of his people. The story is told with suspense, grace, and dignity and includes Yahi stories and legends.

Rick Heredia, a Northern Paiute, is a freelance writer living in Fresno, CA. To order, contact the Writers Club Press,, Inc., 620 North 48th St., Suite 201, Lincoln, NE 68504-3467 or see <>.

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