Bear’s Hiding Place: Ishi’s Last Refuge
This fascinating documentary journey into the past follows a contemporary archaeological expedition to the remote sunken gardens of Deer Creek Canyon. near Mount Lassen, in northern California. This is the second attempt by the team to find and confirm the location of Wowunupo’mu Tetna, or Bear’s Hiding Place, the last refuge of the Yahi and of Ishi before his dramatic appearance in 1911.
The archaeological team is attempting to understand how Ishi and the few surviving Yahi adapted to the invasion of their homeland by non-Indians, which began with the Gold Rush of 1849. How had they survived as a small band, following the extermination of almost all their people? Other than concealment, what did this thicket of poison oak and bay trees, perched on the side of a steep cliff covered with talus slopes, offer to sustain the remaining Yahi? How long did the Yahi hide here?
The answers to these and other intriguing questions are revealed in the course of the expedition’s difficult and dangerous journey. This outstanding short film will spark discussion in a variety of courses in archaeology, anthropology, Native American studies, and American history. It was produced by Jed Riffe.