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The Modoc people, consisting of about 200 people today, live in Oklahoma, where the U.S. Army relocated them following the Modoc War of 1872-1873. The Modoc people lived on the west coast in the Lost River Valley on the present day California and Oregon border before the 1860’s. The United States Army relocated the Modoc people in 1864 to the Klamath Indian reservation, located in southeastern Oregon. Part of the tribe left the reservation in 1872 by the lead of Captain Jack, otherwise known as Kintpuash. They fled to the lava beds near Tule Lake.
The Modoc primarily gathered seeds, roots, and berries. They also fished and hunted small game. The Modoc made rafts to fish with by weaving tule reeds. They also used this marsh plant to make baskets, moccasins, and thatched it together to make summer huts. The Modoc people lived in subterranean houses, in the winter, mostly covered by dirt and snow; the snow drifts would often reach six feet high or more. Their summer homes consisted of these thatched huts of tule reeds. They also built "Sweat Houses" used for praying and other religious affairs. The Modoc religion was based on the belief in guardian spirits, who were sought for guidance and help. The Klamath tribe to the north were allies of the Modoc people. There was also a tradition of young Modoc and Klamath coming together in marriage.
In 1864, the US Government forced the Modoc north to a reservation on the Northern Klamath Lake Region. This area was known to be Klamath land. The Klamath treated the Modoc as intruders even though the Modoc were forced upon the land. The U.S. broke their promise by not supplying the Modoc people with adequate rations; this act is the main factor that led to the Modoc War. A group of Modoc people by the lead of Captain Jack broke out and fled back to their home land near Tule Lake. Here about 60 Modoc took up refuge in the rough terrain of the hardened lava.
In January of 1873, the U.S. Government sent troops to force the Modoc people back to the reservation. The U.S. attacked the band of Modoc on the foggy morning of the 16th of January. The army, unprepared for the rough terrain, quickly found themselves losing the battle. With many U.S. casualties, the army retreated, leaving the wounded behind. With this great victory, the Modoc had an upper hand in peace treaty talks. They had many talks during the days that followed the first battle, but little was accomplished. More fighting continued and the Modoc were defeated finally by the U.S. Army when a surprise attack by the Modoc went bad. The Modoc where forced to a reservation in Oklahoma, where disease and famine killed many of them.
-Victoria D. Patterson, World Book Encyclopedia Millennium 2000.
-Oregon Public Broadcasting: June 22, 2000 http://educationn.opb.org/learning/ofg/modoc/before.html
-Britannica.com Inc. © 1999-2001 http://www.britannica.comm/eb/article?eu=54491
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