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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Nicoleños in Los Angeles: Documenting the Fate of the Lone Woman’s Community


When the last San Nicolas Island resident, known as the ‘Lone Woman,’ was brought to Santa Barbara in 1853 after 18 years of solitude following the 1835 removal of her people to the mainland, efforts were made to locate speakers who could communicate with her. That search was reported to be unsuccessful, and the Lone Woman died seven weeks later, unable to recount her story. After the Lone Woman’s death, many accounts presumed that everyone from San Nicolas Island had died. Recent research in provincial Mexican papers, Los Angeles documents, American records, and church registers has uncovered original primary source information that details the experience of the Lone Woman’s people in Los Angeles. Five men, women, and children are con rmed or are likely to have come to the Los Angeles area from San Nicolas Island in 1835, and the parents of a newborn girl baptized the following year also may have come from that island.

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