San Nicolas, a small channel island in California. The Nicoleño (Native American) tribe was inhabited on this island since almost ten thousand years ago. But due to various reasons, their number started decreasing. Especially in 1811-14, the number of Nicoleños stood at 300 because of the aggression by Alaskan and Russians. And in 1835, the number of people of this tribe was only 20. In that year, Nicoleños were driven out of their own residence. The exact reason behind the decision of overthrown Nicoleño from their own land where they have been living for centuries is not known yet.
Juana Maria was the resident of the island. Accidentally this girl left behind on the island. What is the real reason behind leaving Juana on the island alone is still unknown to everyone. According to one section, that day there was a storm in the sea and no one else had waited for her.
Juana was very worried for first some days on that isolated Island. Her heart was crying for the loved ones. This young lady spent days waiting for the ship. But the ship that had taken her loved ones that day, did not come back to take her away. Juana`s fight to survive in the loneliness and wild began. Juana took shelter in the cave, built a sloping house with whale bones, hunts seal and wild duck to meet her hunger, wear the leaves of the tree as a cloth. In this way, she spent eighteen years of her life alone on that secluded island.
In 1853, another ship anchored again in San Nicolas Island. With many expectations, with many prospects, this lonely lady stood in front of the ship. The ship reached Santa Barbara with Juana. With many hopes, Juana came down from the ship. She eagerly waited for her beloved, those who have been lost 18 years ago, not knowing the fact that 19 Nicoleño could not made it in the civilized world. She did not know that after leaving the island, Nicoleños fell ill and in spite of many attempts, the civilized world could not save those `savage` people.
Juana was kept in the Santa Barbara mission. Every day people from the different parts of the city came to visit the world`s last Nicoleño. Juana sang and danced for them. Tried to make everyone happy. Who knows, maybe she has been searching for her loved one in the crowd.
Just seven weeks after arriving on the mainland, Juana Maria died in Garey, California on 19 October 1853. She was buried in an unmarked grave on the George Nidever (the captain who’s ship has found Juana) family plot at the Santa Barbara Mission cemetery. Before she died, Father Sanchez baptized and christened her with the Spanish name Juana Maria. Who knows, whether it was her consent or not. And no one knows the real name of this lonely soul. While living, she was known as "Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island"