The Modocs and Their War
Along the shores of Tule Lake in northern California, in the fall of 1872 three small bands of Modoc Indians joined forces to hold off more than a thousand United States soldiers and settlers trying to dislodge them from their ancient refuge in the lava beds. In these caves and crevasses, which the army called "The Stronghold," the 160-odd Indians, led by Captain Jack, fought five battles and several skirmishes aginst the whites, inclicting more casualties on their enemies than their own total strength.
Toward the end of the war, when these Indians felt the ignominy of defeat and mistrusted their shaman’s medicine, they separated into their original bands and moved into the hills. Within a few days all but two or three Modocs were in the army’s hands. But the victory was less the army’s doing than the failure of the Modoc spiritual leader.
Keith A. Murray presents the Modocs as they appear in history, their habits, their location, and the beliefs that led them to plunge into their war. He not only gives the history of the war, but also explains the concepts and religious beliefs behind some of the Modocs’ most surprising moves.
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