The west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1875-1891, March 01, 1884, Page 79, Image 18

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mHOTJGH one of the smallest tribes with which out
ZJTaV ,C0M no lve exhibited a
mT6? imy OT di8I,ln'ed 6ter murage
than the Modoc Indians, and few have cost the Government
more m blood and treasure to subdue. They were but a
small tribe when first discovered by the whites, less than
Ml warriors, and occupied a comparatively limited sec
tion of country, much of it barren and worthless. In that
inhospitable region lie the graves of emigrants, volun
teers and soldiers by the score, while the bones of old
men, helpless women and tender babes lay for years in
uiBir ime marsnes, and found no burial Bave that vouch
safed by the hand of pitying Nature.
The Modoc, or, as properly pronounced, Mo-a-dok,
Indians were an offshoot from the Muk-a-luk. nr Klnnmf.t,
Lake, tribe, inhabiting the country to the north and east
01 .Lake Klamath, and took their name from Mo-a-dok-us,
the chief under whom they seceded from the parent tribe.
They were, to a degree, a tribe of Ishmaelites. livinc bv
the plunder of their neighbors on every side, and finding
a secure retreat from their wrath in the marshes of Tule
Lake or the rocky and mysterious caverns of the Lava
The region dominated by them was circumscribed,
embracing a small strip of country along the Oregon and
California line. The east and south shores of Klamath
Lake, the Butte Creek country to the south of it, the
sterile Lava Beds to the south of Tule, or Wright, Lake,
and Lost River on the north, were their country, thougl
the general headquarters were at Tule Lake. Upon the
little islands among the tules they built their wickiups,
where they retired in times of danger, the caves of the
Lava Beds forming their last retreat when driven from
their island homes.
Such were the Modocs when first visited by the white
man a band of hardy and unscrupulous marauders,
courageous and daring, living chiefly by plunder, and
occupying a country apparently designed by Nature for
the home of such a band of savage buccaneers. Among
them were many renegades from other tribes, and the
.. whole tribe was, in fact, but the descendants of a number
of independent Indians who had gathered about Mo-a-dok-us
and his little band of Muk-a-luks. Formed like
the Romans, they adopted the Roman plan of procuring
wives, beginning thus their habit of stealing squaws from
their neighbors, which was never completely abandoned
even after they came under the control of the whites.
In the spring of 1846 Lieutenant John C. Fremont
entered California on his third exploring expedition to
the West and hia second trip across the continent His
Dartv consisted of about sixty men, many of them old
and tried mountaineers, and all of them hardy and daring
men picked by their commander for the arduous service
exnfint rst tTiAm. After exchanging international com
pliments with General Castro, which at one time appeored
trail pnssed up the Sacramento, along the western base of
Mount Shasta, through Shasta Vallev, pd thus mum
iiluiuttui River and Siskiyou Mountain to Rogue River
Valley. This was many miles to the west of the Modoc
country, while the route of trapping parties who crossed
rom Snake River to the Sacramento, by the way of Tit
River, passed to the eastward. It thus happened that
while they knew of the white man and his dealings with
surrounding tribes, it is more than probable that Fre
mont was at the head of the first party of whites to pass
through the country of the Modocs and partake of their
bloody hospitalities.
Fremont's party turned off the regular trail to Oregon,
at the mouth of Pit River, and followed up that stream,
which was thou callod the east fork of the Saoramonto.
He proceeded by the way of Clear and Tule lakes to the
west bank of Klamath Lake, just above the Oregon line,
whore ho went into camp for a few days. On the Oth of
May Samuel Neal and M. Siglor rodo into camp with the
intelligence that a United States officer was on their trail
with important dispatches, which ho lmd crossed the con
tinent to deliver into Fremont's own hand. This was not
all; the meWngors had only escaped from the hands of ,
savages by the fieotnoss of thoir animals, and they foared
the officer and his companion would not be so fortunate
unless they recoived immediate aid. Away dashed Fre
mont to tlio rescuefour trappers, five friendly Indians
and the two messengers riding at his side. Back ncroHs
the California line they rode, round and along the south
ern shore of the lake, until, at sundown, sixty miles from
the camp of the morning, they met Lioutouant Qillespio
and brave old Feter Lassen, unconscious of the danger
from which' they had been resouod.
That meeting was an important one to California and
to America. The messenger of the Government informed
Fremont that war had been declared with Mexico. The
instructions he then imparted havo remained hidden in
the Pathfinder's breast to the present day, and can only
be inferred from the conduct of that dashing officer, who
returned at once to California, inaugurated the Boar
Flag War (carried on by his counsel and inspired by ,
him), and organized the California Battalion, which
played so prominent a part in the conquest of California. -
Late into the night those young officers, on whoso
shoulders such weighty responsibilities had txten thrown,
sat by the smoldering embers and counseled nlxjut thoir
future course. Around them lay their companions,
wrapped in profound slumlor, their weary limbs stretched
uoon the ground. Fatigue and the excitement of Uie
news had mode their leader incautious. He forgot that
he wns in a country where the natives hod shown signs of
hostility, that he had ridden sixty miles that doy because
of such hostility. Filled with the great projects of the
future, his limbs weary with futiguo, lie, too, lay down by
the fire and clownl his heavy eyes in sleep. In Hint
silent camp lay the sleeping forniB of Richard Owens,
Lncien Maxwell, Kit Carson, Alex. Godey, 8tepjcufoldt,
TC,isil Laieunnesse, Denne, (Jrono, ana otnoin oi uiose
.... ii i . ' "i