Tour Locations | The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost
LOCATION 89 | The Modoc War: A Homeland Lost
You should be parked in a dirt parking lot, facing a large bluff. This is what's known as Petroglyph Point - and, as you're about to see, one of the largest panels of Native American rock art in the United States. To the Modoc, Petroglyph Point was a sacred place where every mythological being supposedly once gathered. Positioned so close to the lava beds, it was like the Notre Dame Cathedral of the Modoc world. During Modoc times, where you're parked would have still been submerged under Tule Lake so shamans, like Curley Headed Doctor, accessed this giant rock face in front of you by boat - or walking across the lake in the winter when it was frozen.
It's difficult to date this rock art, but about 6000 years ago, the first signs of shamanism - which this art is one of the most accessible examples of - began to show up in Modoc culture. At least, that's what we can piece together from the archeological sites peppered throughout the Lava Beds National Monument. Modoc shamans were influential and respected members of their community, serving as a spiritual and physical healer - typically involving the channeling spirits. A shaman would work himself into a dream state and then consult the spirits in the rock by drilling into the rock or carving repetitive symbols. You can still see these holes and symbols today, and I'm going to encourage you to look for them now. There's also usually a pamphlet stand here with some historic information if you're interested, and a bathroom if you're in need! Just press pause now, and hit play when you're ready to head deeper into the heart of the Modoc War. I'll be waiting here.
Welcome back. Ready to continue? Great. When it's clear, head out of the parking lot and take a left back on 126. You are going to be continuing the direction you were going when you got here.