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Home of “Island of Blue Dolphins” woman found

Archaeologists believe they have found the island home of the woman who inspired the children’s novel the Island of the Blue Dolphins. The woman, a member of the Nicoleño tribe, lived by herself in a cave on San Nicolas island during the mid-nineteenth century.

Christened Juana Maria at her death bed baptism, she was a member of the Nicoleno, a Native American tribe that had lived on San Nicolas for centuries. Pushed out by hunters and their numbers dwindling, a crew was sent to bring the last of the tribe to the mainland, but Juana Maria was left behind.

When she was discovered by fishermen in 1853 and brought to the Santa Barbara Mission, she became the object of much fascination and speculation. As no one understood her language, it was never known how she spent her time on the island or even her real name. And there wasn’t much time to try to bridge the language gap as she died of dysentery just seven weeks later.

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Story: Shannon Dybvig, GrindTV | Photo: GrindTV

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