• LOCATION 46 | The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost

    Highway 50

    You should now be on Highway 50, with mostly empty fields on your left and scattered houses on the right.

    As soldiers entered Captain Jack's village, Oliver Applegate's ragtag civilian rode into Hooker Jim's village. I can't read Oliver's mind, but I presume he believed Captain Jack's capture would lead to an easy surrender from Hooker Jim. But the second gunfire sounded from Captain Jack's camp, Hooker Jim's warriors sprung to action. They attacked with heavy gunfire. Two settlers were killed immediately. The rest of the gang scattered in fear. Even Oliver fled on horseback, galloping north to report the Modocs were at war.

    And, sometime during the volley, there were Modoc women and children who were killed, enraging Hooker Jim and his group of Modoc warriors. They charged out on horseback, heading east along the old edge of Tule Lake, on the same path you're traveling now. But there was only one thing on their mind: vengeance. And these settlers whose homesteads you'll be passing soon became sitting ducks.

    Now, before I go further, I do want to say one thing, even though I am of Modoc descent, I think it's important to acknowledge that this war spawned cruel acts on both sides. I believe war, in itself, is the true wrong. And while it's hard to assess complete blame for the start to this disastrous war, there are certain irrefutable facts.

    There were individuals, like the two Jesses, that wanted Modoc land at any cost. Land to the immigrants meant ownership. But to the Modocs, land could not be owned any more than the water or clouds. Racial bias and stereotyping influenced decisions on both sides, meaning many missed opportunities to solve problems cooperatively.

    There was also a surprising lack of authority and coordination on the part of the government and military. General Canby, who later called the attack on Lost River "a grave mistake" - had no idea the high price he would ultimately pay personally for that mistake. And the attack by Oliver Applegate was disastrous. I believe the direct consequences of this act alone was one of the first turning points that put the Modoc War on an irreversible course, and instigated Hooker Jim to do what he did next.

The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost