• LOCATION 29 | The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost

    Follow Hill Road Into Merrill

    You should still be on Hill Road, with the canal on the right. Continue traveling straight on this road until we reach the small town of Merrill.

    Now before I tell you what happened when the soldiers arrived at the camp, I want to make clear that a number of settlers had actually integrated quite well with the Modoc. In fact, two Yreka judges were known to even hand out "passes" certifying a Modoc's character if they were seeking work. The "pass" read something like this:

    [ROSBOROUGH CHARACTER:] Charlie, the Indian to whom I give this paper, makes a living for himself and his family by farming, driving teams, etc. and wants me to give him this paper certifying to the fact that he is a civilian Indian and not a wild Indian - that he is an independent freeman entitled to the protection of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness by the laws of civilization. Signed AM Rosborough, county judge of the county of Siskiyou and the State of California.

    [CHEEWA:] Other settlers who lived near the fields you're passing through also befriended the Modoc. Just a few miles from here, Henry Miller regularly hired the Modoc as herders. He openly rejected that they were “hostiles,” claiming they were "no more insolent to whites than whites are to whites.” And just east of Dorris, rancher John Fairchild - another name you should remember - hired and paid wages to Hot Creek Modocs, even paying a small rent for use of their land. He was the reason so many Hot Creeks spoke English. He was a great friend and mentor to my great-grandfather Shacknasty Jim who was the Hot Creek leader, and to this day I feel Fairchild was an example of what could have happened between the settlers and the Modocs if they'd instead chosen a path of integration and respect.

    It was also Fairchild who rode along this route you're driving into Captain Jack's camp a month before the soldiers, warning Captain Jack to take a diplomatic route if it came to it, going peacefully back to the Klamath Agency. One of the warriors, Scarface Charley - named for a large facial scar he got as a child - promised that the Modoc wouldn't fire if the soldiers didn't.

The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost