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The Mysterious Lone Woman

In 1853, A native American woman was discovered living alone on San Nicolas Island off the coast of California. The search for the mysterious woman has been ongoing due to rumors and evidence found by other explorers that suggest the island may not be deserted. 

While on an exploratory search of the Island, explorers discovered footprints on the beach that led to a hut made of whale bones and scraps from the island. In front of the hut, they found a naive woman preparing food. The woman appeared to be in her 50s and wearing a dress made of feathers.

The unknown woman and the explorers couldn't talk due to the language barrier and instead used their hands to communicate. When offered a ride off the Island to the Santa Barbara Mission, she accepted.

While at the mission, members from the Chumash and Tongva tribes failed to recognize the woman's language and meaningful communication became a lost cause. However, the woman wasn't shunned but welcomed and even given the name "Juana Maria" by the locals. 

Seven weeks after arriving at the mission, Juana Marie would die of dysentery. 

It's believed that Juana Marie was the last remaining member of the Nicoleño tribe that once inhabited San Nicolas Island. It's estimated that she lived alone on the island for 18 years.

All of the other inhabitants of the Island left in 1835. It's not understood how Juana Marie was overlooked or if she was connected to any of the natives that evacuated the Island in 1835.

When Juana Marie died on October 19, 1853, her life's story went with her including her birth name. Over the last century, researchers, historians, and archaeologists have studied Juana Marie and the artifacts she left behind, many of the artifacts discovered are either stored in museums or have been lost to history.

Although not known for anything other than being found on a deserted island and being the last remaining member of her tribe, Juana Marie claimed her rightful place in the history books.

The 1960 novel Island of the Blue Dolphins and its 1964 film adaptation are loosely based on Juana Marie's story.

Today, The story of Juana Marie remains a mystery just as it did in 1853.