The Lone Woman of San Nicolas

Painting of an American Indian woman on San Nicolas Island in the 1800s. By Michael Ward

Each year, Scott O’Dell’s Newbury Award winning novel Island of the Blue Dolphins introduces young people to the Channel Islands. O’Dell’s tale of the young girl Karana was inspired by the true story of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas who was left on the Island in 1835 when a boat took the remaining Nicoleño people to the mainland. She lived alone on the island until George Nidever, a fisherman and sea otter hunter, discovered her in 1853 and brought her to the Santa Barbara Mission.

Although San Nicolas Island is not one of the park islands, the story of the Lone Woman gives interesting insight to the lifeways of the native inhabitants of the Channel Islands at the time Europeans had established a sizeable population in what is now California. Follow this link to learn more about the true story of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas.

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