Object photography

View of the artwork on display in 'All My Life: Contemporary Works by Native American Artists'; Peabody Essex Museum; August 5, 2005 through March 28, 2010.
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Object description

  • David Bradley (White Earth Ojibwe, birth 1954)
  • Ishi: The Last Wild Indian, 04/26/2001
  • Mixed media on board
  • Minnesota, United States (Lives and works in American Southwest)
  • H: 30 in, W: 40 in, D: 1 1/2 in (H: 76.2 cm, W: 101.6 cm, D: 3.8 cm)
  • Gift from James and Margie Krebs Collection of Native American Art, 2001
  • E301825
  • Depicts Ishi, last survivor of his Yahi tribe
  • Reflects on Ishi's life as subject of anthropological fascination

In 1911, two anthropologists "befriended" Ishi, after his tribe was decimated by massacre and disease. He worked for them as a living museum exhibit, demonstrating arrow-making and documenting Yahi language, songs, and stories, until his death in 1916. Against his wishes, his brain was sent to the Smithsonian Institution. In 2000, dictated by legislation, his brain was buried with his remains. Here, the artist reflects on early anthropological practices and Ishi's resilience in the face of profound personal and cultural loss.