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The Modoc War | Oregon Experience | OPB

Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Modoc War was one of the most dramatic American Indian wars in U.S. history.

The Modoc are a Native American people who originally resided in the area which is now northeastern California and central Southern Oregon. The Modoc War began in November 1872 when the military tried to force a small band of Modoc People, led by Captain Jack, to a reservation.

The Modocs took refuge in an ancient lava flow that became their stronghold. Today it is a part of the Lava Beds National Monument.
The Modocs knew the land and used it to their advantage. Twisting lava tubes and hidden caves created the perfect hideout for fiftyfive Modoc warriors and their families.

Native, or Indian, policy was the subject of national debate and many humanitarians sided with the Modocs. Then the Indians attacked a peace commission, resulting in the only U.S. General killed in an Indian conflict. The government cracked down hard, calling for swift punishment.

By the end, the Modocs were fighting off a force of nearly 1,000 men, made up of both military soldiers and civilian volunteers.

Again and again, the small band of Indians overcame incredible odds to protect their way of life. But it could not last. Their world was about to change forever. The Modoc People are currently divided between Oregon and Oklahoma and are enrolled in either of two federally recognized tribes, the Klamath Tribes in Oregon[2] and the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, now known as the Modoc Nation.

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