I was a reader as a child. No one had to force me to read, and in fact, I probably ran through a good portion of my parents’ monthly “fun” budget keeping me in books.
As I grew, my palate expanded and a love for history was born – largely through books like Island of the Blue Dolphins.
I wasn’t alone in my adoration of the re-told story; I think it probably opened many a child’s eyes to lives different from their own, and to the strength that lives inside all of us, waiting to be tapped into during the hardest of times.
The classic book, published in 1960, was based on the true story of a Native American woman who lived by herself on an island off the coast of California for 18 years from 1835-1853.
The woman was a member of the Nicoleño tribe, who had inhabited San Nicolas Island, 61 miles off the coast of California, for 10,000 years before Native Alaskan hunters descended on the island and killed many of the Nicoleõs.
An agreement was eventually worked out in 1835 that the surviving members of the tribe would be relocated to the California mainland. The ship evacuating the Nicoleños had to depart the island due to a storm and one young woman was left behind, forced to fend for herself.
The lone woman remained on San Nicolas by herself for 18 years, eating seal meat, shellfish meat, and roots to survive. Stories of a solitary woman on the island were told by fishermen for years until a fur trapper made the effort to track the woman down.
The fur trapper and his crew brought the woman to the mainland to the mission at Santa Barbara. She was regarded as friendly and was thought to be around 50-years-old and in good health. The woman could not, however, communicate with anyone because she was the only person left who spoke her language.
Today, San Nicolas Island is home to mostly Navy members and is used for weapons testing and training.
I will say that you should definitely never look up what happened to that poor woman after she was “rescued.”
What book changed your life as a kid? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!