Theodora Kroeber was born in Denver, Colorado, and lived her
first seventeen years in Telluride, a mining camp in the Rocky Mountains.
Across the range, a day's horseback ride from Telluride, was another mining
camp, Ouray, named for the Ute Indian, Chief Ouray. Mrs. Kroeber says,
"My brothers and I took Indians pretty much for granted. Our horses came
from Ute Indians who trained them to take the steep trails at an easy gait
which did not jolt and tire horses or rider. We rode on horseback to visit
various cliff dwellings before the road was put into Mesa Verde Park; and the
floors of our home were covered with rugs from the looms of Navajo women who
Mrs. Kroeber's husband, Alfred Kroeber, was Chairman of the
Department of Anthropology and Curator of the Museum of Anthropology and
Ethnology of the University of California when Ishi was discovered in 1911. He
and Ishi became close friends. Professor and Mrs. Kroeber and their four
children came to know many Indians, some of whom visited the Kroebers in their
home in Berkeley.
These Indians worked with Mr. Kroeber, dictating to him the
words of their language, and telling him the Way of Life of their people. Many
returned year after year to spend some weeks --- perhaps their vacation ---
with the Kroebers. When work for the day was done, then children and grown-ups
played shinny in the old Indian way; or they practiced shooting the bow; or
they went swimming; or played croquet. And in the evening, they sat around the
fire and talked and told stories. Sometimes they sang songs and danced an
Indian dance to the accompaniment of a gourd rattle.
Theodora Kroeber is the author of The Inland Whale, a
collection of California Indian tales, and Ishi In Two Worlds, and
anthropological study of Ishi's life and times. Mrs. Kroeber says, "When
I write, I turn most often to something Indian. This is not because I am
Indian 'specialist,' or feel that I have anything novel to say about Indians,
but because I find their stories beautiful and true and their way of telling a
story to be also my way."
Kroeber, Theodora. Ishi, Last of His Tribe. 5th ed.,
1973; rpt. A Bantom Book /
Published by arrangement with Parnassus Press,