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Modoc Indians,

A tribe that originally formed a part of the Klamath nation. Their name means “enemies,” and was given to them by others. The Modocs were first found on the south shore of Lake Klamath, in California, when both sexes were clothed in skins. In their wars they held captives as slaves, and traded in them. The early emigrants to California encountered them as hostiles, and they massacred many white people. In 1852 Ben Wright, who sought revenge, invited a band of Modocs to a peaceful feast, when he and his men murdered forty-one out of forty-six Indians who were there. The Modocs never forgave the outrage, and war with them was kept up at intervals until 1864, when, by a treaty, they ceded their lands to the United States, and agreed to go on a reservation. The treaty was not ratified by the government until 1870, nor the reservation set apart until 1871. The Modocs meanwhile had gone upon the Klamath reservation, but it was so sterile that they could not live there. They were cheated by the government and harassed by the Klamaths, who were anciently their enemies, and some went to another reservation. Unfortunately some Klamaths were put with them, and trouble continued, when two Modoc bands left the reservation. A clan known as Captain Jack's band were uneasy and turbulent. Their tribe complained of them, and in the spring of 1872 they were ordered back to the Klamath reservation. They refused to go, and late in November (1872) United States troops and citizens of Oregon attacked their two camps on opposite sides of a river. The people were repulsed with loss, and the united Modocs, retreating, massacred some white settlers on the way, and took refuge in the Lava Beds, a volcanic region difficult for a foe to enter if moderately defended. In June, 1873, General Wheaton attempted to drive the Modocs from their stronghold, but could not penetrate within 3 miles of them, after the loss of several men. General Gillem made an equally unsuccessful attempt to dislodge them. In the mean time the government had appointed a commission of inquiry, and clothed it with power to adjust all difficulties. It met the Modocs in conference on April 11, 1873, when the Indians killed Gen. Edward R. S. Canby (q. v.) and Dr. Thomas, two of the commissioners, and wounded Mr. Meacham, another commissioner. After this act of treachery, operations against the Modocs were pressed with vigor. A long and stubborn resistance ensued, but finally Captain Jack and his band were compelled to surrender. The chief and three of his prominent associates were tried by a military commission and executed at Fort Klamath, Oct. 3, 1873. The remainder were placed on the Quapaw reservation, in the Indian Territory. Jack's band numbered 148; those left at the Klamath agency, and who took no part in hostilities, numbered about 100.

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