This book begins when it’s main character Ishi is just thirteen years of age. He is one of the remaining Yahi Indians in the world. The people in his tribe now living are Ishi, grandfather and grandmother, Tushi, Timawi, his mother and his father. They have been hiding from the Saldu, white men as the Yahi called them. This chapter had much to do with the Harvest Season. We know this season as autumn. They had to hunt and forage for many items to survive through the winter. We are taken to Ishi’s secret place where he goes to think. This place is known as Black Rock. They Yahi have spent most of their lives hiding from the white men or Saldu, as the Yahi call them.
The winter the Yahi go through is not that tough because they are so well prepared for it. They listen to grandfather tell the story of creation time after time. Ishi loves to hear this and he listens to how his father was killed by the Saldu. The rest of this section explains how Ishi is growing up and becoming a man.
Spring is beginning and the Yahi are busy at work. Ishi is now becoming a wasani or a real man. He learns to fish and he learns how to hunt dear with the help of Timawi. The biggest challenge of this is to leave no trail of the killing for the Saldu to trace back to the tribe.
The summer season is very successful and the Yahi are thriving in their environment as much as possible. Timawi and Ishi want to attack the Saldu but are held back by Elder Uncle.
Chapter two begins with Ishi going on a trek to become a man. On this trek, he will visit many of the religious sites including, where he was born, where his father was killed and where his father was buried. He returns from the trek and is declared a real man.
One of the main conflicts in the story is from the refusing of Tushi to make a sweat grass bracelet for Timawi. This is almost like a wedding ring for the Yahi. Timawi is upset but he tries his hardest not to show it. Ishi and Tushi go somewhere to discuss the whole situation and when they do, Ishi notices that a Saldu is aiming to lasso Tushi. Ishi whips out the bow and arrow and skillfully shoots the Saldu in the hand. He tells the others about the incident and they all know that they must move for they will be coming to kill them all off shortly.
They must go hide somewhere soon and Ishi and Timawi set out to find a place for them to stay in the mountains. Ishi and Timawi discuss the event that happened between Timawi and Tushi. They didn’t find a spot to stay in the mountain.
They next morning, Ishi woke up to find that Timawi set fire to a Saldu house. Ishi went to investigate the situation and found Timawi laying dead. Ishi takes him and gives him the proper burial along with his father.
Ishi went tout and then found a spot to live. He found a cave in the side of a mountain and the remaining Yahi migrate to this new place to stay. Ishi found a new place to go and think. Later on, his grandmother and grandfather die of old age. There are four remaining Yahi left in the world.
The seasons have changed again and it is now winter. Ishi loved to watch Tushi as she matured into a Yahi woman. Ishi grew out of going to Lookout Point and his Dream did not occur as often as it use to. There were more animals and there were more Saldu people living in the area and the rest of the Yahi world.
The Saldu were being watched constantly, even though they did not know it. When they widened they canyon, they Yahi were happy because they knew that the Sladu were to soon be moving out of their land. They Yahi village was very slow in productiveness and did not have half as many activities as there use to be occurring daily in the camp. Mother was sick and it made her very weak. She couldn’t move around much and Elder Uncle was always there at her side to comfort her.
It was soon Harvest Season and they prepared for winter in no time. Everything seened to flourish in their baskets and fish and deer in their storing houses.
There was a chopping of a tree which meant Saldu. They were to make an escape plan and an escape plan is what they made. It was a good thing that they did to because their village was attacked shortly after in the following days. Tushi and Elder Uncle escaped safely but it was too late for Ishi to carry out mother so she had to stay in the cave. She was rapped in skins and the Saldu found her. They did not harm her they just poked her and taunted her. They stole many things including basket and food and animal skins and pottery. Elder uncle and tushi did not make it. They probably drown in the river.
Mother’s final sleep was on the day Tushi and Elder Uncle did not come back. It was time for mother to be with her husband now. She was buried with a basket of corn meal, and her digging stick. This is what she will need in the Land of the Dead.
Ishi was now the true last of the Yahi. He had no where to go accept for away from the Saldu.
Ishi has been traveling for days now. He was tired and worn down. He suddenly became unconscious and was having this terrible “dream”. This dream was in fact real but he was too out of it to realize what was happening to him. Dogs were biting at him and he feared the “demons” that were causing him so much pain.
He finally awoke to see a bunch of dogs surrounding him and he now knew he was captured. He was in a coral with a few dogs being observed by five or six Saldu. He did not know why they did not shoot him or even enjoyed watching him suffer the pain. The sheriff came and spoke to Ishi in the foreign Saldu tongue. He was then put in a covered wagon and brought him to the village. He was them put in a jail cell and was observed in the cell like an animal at the zoo. He was cornered in the cell trying to stay as far away from the Saldu as possible. He falls asleep wondering if he will wake up in the morning.
In the morning he wakes up and is confronted by a man who is studying him very carefully. He is not armed and seems to have a gentle personality. The headman and Ishi began to communicate opening up a whole world between the Saldu and the Yani.
He asks the Headman what the monster really is and he finds out. The monster is another way of transportation like the wagon but much quicker. He is then put on a ferryboat and taken out to sea. He becomes seasick because he is not use to the rocking or the ship.
Ishi is now in the museum where he will reside for the rest of life. In the museum he sees many of his peoples tools and many of people that lived before Ishi did. Ishi ate breakfast with a few men. He was introduced to a doctor and his son. He called this doctor Kuwi. He made good friends with this man for he knew he would be spending much more of his time with him. Ishi begged for him to bring him to his native land. He wanted to go there for the season of the salmon.
Ishi was living in the museum for four years now. He kept seeing all of his people’s things. All of this put everything into perspective for him. He finally got to understand that he was the last one left. If he did not share anything and everything he knew about his tribe, they would perish forever.
Ishi has a flashback of Tushi. He realizes how much he misses her and it reminds him of the good times he used to have with her. He realizes he is lonelier than he has ever been. Ishi is soon given his quiver and knife back from an anonymous source. He does not know who it is but believes it to be the work of Jupka or Kaltsuna.
Ishi later gives the two people he has become closet with the chance to take the Purification Prayer. They both take place in the ceremony and they realize what a privilege it is to have this. They are given the opportunity to go fishing like the Yahi and they went to the sacred ground where the last of the Yahi lived they last days of their lives.
Ishi soon passed away. He was given the proper burial that a yahi deserves. He was buried with all the things he would be needing in the Land of the Living. It was a tough time for the Doctor and his son. They said prayers for a man who changed their lives and everyone’s who would be following, present and future.