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Was She or Wasn’t She? Mysteries of The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island Revealed!

Start Date:
August 27, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
End Date:
August 27, 2019 @ 7:00 pm
Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum
CA United States

Was She or Wasn’t She?

Mysteries of The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island Revealed!

(SANTA YNEZ, CA) – The true-life story of Juana Maria, depicted in Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, is a classic literary work that is part of educational curriculum for school children everywhere, just as it was for their parents years ago. South Coast residents are fortunate to have a deeper connection to this well-loved story, due to the proximity to Juana Maria’s home on nearby San Nicolas Island in California’s Channel Islands. Extensive research has been done by local academics to learn more about her solitary life and survival in this remote place. But major questions still exist. Was she or wasn’t she completely alone on the island? Did she actually encounter other people on the island before she was rescued and taken to Santa Barbara? The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum is pleased to invite the public to attend “Mysteries of The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Revealed!” on August 27 at 5 pm. Doors open at 4 pm for a Back-to-School Open House prior to the talk.

John R. Johnson, Ph.D., Curator of Anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and Susan Morris, a historical researcher and expert on the Lone Woman, will present current research about Juana Maria’s life. Recent archaeological discoveries and historical research have uncovered new details which help us to understand why she may have remained on San Nicolas Island – perhaps not so alone as previously believed. Researchers have uncovered what is believed to have been her sheltered cave as well as two redwood boxes with a cache of artifacts which are likely to have belonged to the not so Lone Woman.

The hour-long presentation is part of the Museum’s Back-to-School Focus on Education Open House on the same day from 4-5 pm. The activity is geared towards local educators, parents and their students. Information will be shared on the Museum’s school tour programs and current classroom materials targeting Elementary History & Social Studies standards, followed by The Lone Woman presentation at 5 pm. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 per adult and free for children. Teachers and school administrators are invited to attend for free as our special guests. Light refreshments will be served with beer and wine available for purchase.

Theresa Reilly, Curator of Education for the Museum, states that, “This event is a great way to kick off the school year. We get an opportunity to showcase our educational initiatives to the community and bring history alive. It’s exciting to call attention to new research on Juana Maria conducted by leading anthropology experts that live in our region.” Brian Stenfors, Ph.D., Museum Director, adds that, “We are thrilled to bring together students, parents, teachers and the public – anyone interested in the real story of Juana Maria’s extraordinary life. Together, we will learn new details about one of our region’s most famous historical figures.”

An RSVP is requested; please contact Ms. Reilly or Teresa Mills at (805) 688-7889, email education@santaynezmuseum.org or visit santaynezmuseum.org.


Founded in 1961, the mission of the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Parks-Janeway Carriage House is “Preserving, interpreting and celebrating the history of human experience in California’s Santa Ynez Valley and Central Coast by informing, educating, inspiring and engaging Museum guests of all ages and backgrounds.” The Museum is the official caretaker of the Valley’s rich cultural history, housing one of the finest collections of antique, horse-drawn carriages and wagons in the Western United States, examples of finely crafted Chumash and other Native American basketry, pottery and artifacts, one-of-a-kind horse saddlery and tack from days gone by and Western sculptures, paintings, books and handicrafts. As the “hub” for social gatherings in the Valley, the Museum sponsors events and celebrations throughout the year including gallery openings, Festival of the Vines, Vaquero Gala, Show and Sale, Wild West Camp and educational tours for children and food and wine tastings that highlight the economic importance of the wine and agricultural industries in shaping the Valley’s future. To learn more, visit and become a member, visit www.santaynezmuseum.org.

Was She or Wasn’t She? Mysteries of The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island Revealed! Location