|Scott O'Dell wrote a famous fictional account of what happened. Here is Karana's true story.|
|San Nicolas Island off the California coast (islandconservation/flickr.com)|
|L.A./Channel Islands: 65 miles out to sea|
- She was later christened Juana Maria by Anglo Christian missionaries in the Santa Barbara Mission. When first abducted, she escaped back to the island by jumping ship to get her brother, who was later eaten by wild dogs, as the rest of the native Ghalas-at people (called Nicoleños) were moved from San Nicolas Island to mainland California. She survived on the island alone with dogs for 18 years, likely seeing others who passed. In 1853 Capt. Nidever and his crew "rescued" her and took her to Santa Barbara. Her story is told in Island of the Blue Dolphins ("With island dig halted, Lone Woman still a stinging mystery," Los Angeles Times, 3-5-15).
The Strange Tale of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island
|Off the coast of Los Angeles are eight large Channel Islands, such as Catalina (wiki).|
|"Karana" (Braun Library, Autry Nat'l Center, LA)|
The island's "shifting sand dunes, its 90-foot fog shrouded peak, its deep cut canyons, its bleak cliffs, and the crashing seas breaking over its rocky shores" made it "just about one of the most desolate places on earth."
- Five of the eight Channel Islands are part of Channel Islands National Park. The waters surrounding them make up California's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. They were first inhabited by the Los Angeles area Tongva and Ventura Chumash Native Americans 13,000 years ago, who were then killed by European colonialists. The US military now uses the islands as weapons test sites, training grounds, and strategic defense much in the way they have overtaken and ruined the massive Hawaiian island chain, the majority of which is closed to civilians.
- Hawaii encompasses most of the volcanic Hawaiian archipelago, hundreds of islands spread over 1,700 miles.
In 1853, Captain George Nidever set out on his third trip in search of this legendary apparition. The year before, his crew had discovered footprints in the sand.
- VIDEO: Recent scientific discoveries, Sifting Facts from Fiction about the Lone Woman of Nicolas Island
|San Nicolas: rocky, desolate, full of seals, surrounded by dolphins and sharks|
|Karana ("Juana Maria") survived alone.|
What happened to Karana?
|Forget Karana, Juana Maria monument|
Crewmen were impressed with her resourcefulness: she kept every scrap of food she could, saving bones so that she could suck them to the marrow.
She helped the visitors find fresh water and firewood and showed Nidever how to make a water proof jug using heated stones and asphaltum.
When it was time to leave, she boarded the ship willingly, her clothes and one filled large basket the only remnants of her former life.
She was taken to Mission Santa Barbara and placed in the care of Nidever's wife. She was a regional curiosity, and folks came from far and wide to see her sing and dance. Capt. Nidever was offered a chance to display her as a circus sideshow, which he declined.
After many years alone, she seemed thrilled to be with people once again. She was fascinated by the new sights and sounds around her.
When she saw a man on a horse for the first time, she thought they were one creature. She was so amazed when the rider dismounted that she had to go over and touch them both.
All of her kinfolk were dead by this time, and none of the other Native Americans or multi-lingual European priests at the mission were able to understand her. But her kindness was evident to everyone.
She was continually given gifts by visitors which she would accept effusively and then give to the Nidever children.
Only a few weeks after she was left at the Catholic mission, Karana died. Though her death was blamed on an overindulgence of rich food, a simple illness (dysentery) that she had no immunity to was probably the real cause.
In a final insult, after her death, the woman was baptized in the Catholic faith and Christened "Juana Maria." She was buried at the Santa Barbara mission in an unmarked grave as was the custom then. More