The New International Encyclopædia/Modoc

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MO'DOC. A small but warlike and aggressive tribe, formerly ranging about Lower Klamath Lake and Lost River, and on the extreme northeast frontier of California. The name is said to mean ‘aliens’ (i.e. enemies), having been given by some one of the neighboring tribes. They call themselves Maklaks, ‘people,’ and with their northern neighbors, the Klamath, whose language they speak and with whom they originally formed one tribe, are at present classified as a distinct linguistic stock known as Lutuamian, but they may, however, eventually prove to be connected with the Shahaptian stock. At some earlier period they seceded from the parent Klamath tribe and established themselves on Lost River. Their houses were round log structures, covered with earth, and their women were expert basket-weavers and cradle-makers. The Modoc made no alliances, but were at war with all the weaker surrounding tribes, and carried on a regular slave trade by selling their captives to the Columbia tribes in exchange for ponies. They were of vigorous vitality, and kept up their numbers in spite of smallpox and constant wars with both Indians and whites. They came into early collision with the California immigrants, and a chronic warfare was inaugurated, marked by wholesale massacres on both sides. In 1850 they were severely defeated by troops under Captain Lyon. In 1852 they massacred a number of settlers, for which terrible retaliation was made by a band of miners under the notorious Ben Wright, who invited their warriors to a feast and peace conference, and treacherously murdered forty-one of the forty-six who responded. Although thus diminished by nearly half their fighting force, the Modoc recommenced the war of extermination, which continued until 1864, when they entered into a treaty by which they agreed to go upon the Klamath reservation in Oregon. By this time they had been reduced to about 250. Finding their position there intolerable by reason of the persecution and insults of the Klamath, who considered them as rebels, the majority under a younger leader known as Captain Jack (q.v.) left the reservation and returned to their old home on Lost River. They were induced to return on piomise of protection, but finding themselves again subjected to the same persecution without official redress, they returned to Lost River, leaving only about 100 behind under the old hereditary chief Skonchin. Orders were given to the troops to bring them back, and on November 29, 1872, the final Modoc war was begun by a night attack on Captain Jack's camp. The Modoc retreated to the Lava Beds, just across the line, where they so intrenched themselves in the labyrinth of volcanic rocks that four hundred regular troops were twice forced to retire with heavy loss without being able to come near enough even to see one of their concealed enemies. A peace commission to confer with the hostiles was then appointed, consisting of General Canby, Rev. Mr. Thomas, and Indian Superintendent Meacham. They met the head men of the Modoc on April 11, 1873. Jack repeated his demand to remain on Lost River, and on Canby's refusal, drew his revolver and shot him dead. At the same moment the other warriors fired, killing Thomas instantly and severely wounding Meacham, but were driven off before they could finish the work by the arrival of the troops whom Canby had kept hidden within easy reach. The war was continued under General Davis until the hostiles were finally starved out and compelled to surrender two months later. A part of the surrendered hostiles were returned to their kindred on the Klamath reservation, Oregon, while the rest were transported to the Quapaw reservation in Indian Territory. Those on the Klamath reservation now number 225, and are apparently fairly prosperous and advancing and coalescing with the Klamath. Those on the Quapaw reservation number 50, having decreased about one-half since the removal. See Klamath.