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 Juana Maria

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Juana Maria

  • Birth unknown
  • Death 18 Oct 1853 Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, USA
  • Burial Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 48021879

Folk Figure. Known simply as the "Lone Woman of San Nicholas Island," Juana Maria was a member of the Nicoleño Native American tribe who lived on San Nicholas Island off the coast of California. In 1811 native Alaskan hunters were dropped off on the island where they quickly entered into conflict with the Nicoleño and as result devastated the tribe's population. In 1835 the mission padres of California ordered that the few remaining residents of the island were to be moved to the mainland for their survival. Though the exact circumstances of how are unknown, one woman was accidently left behind during the relocation and no immediate attempts to rescue her were ever made. Eighteen years later, in 1853, fur trappers led by Capt. George Nidever, who had previously attempted to find her but failed, landed on San Nicholas Island and finally located it's lone inhabitant. Taken back to Santa Barbara and baptized Juana Maria by the mission padres, she died a few weeks later from illness and was buried unmarked at Mission Santa Barbara. She was the last surviving member of the Nicoleño tribe. In 1928 the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a plaque in her memory in the cemetery. Her story was later the inspiration for author Scott O'Dell's novel "Island of the Blue Dolphins" (1960), which won a Newbery Medal in 1961 and is considered a minor classic.

Bio by: G.Photographer


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: G.Photographer
  • Added: 11 Feb 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 48021879
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Juana Maria (unknown–18 Oct 1853), Find A Grave Memorial no. 48021879, citing Mission Santa Barbara Cemetery, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .