Modoc apology bill passes Senate, on to House
commemorating the Modoc War of 1872-73, honoring those who
lost their lives in the war and expressing regret for “the
expulsion of the Modoc Tribe from their ancestral lands in
Oregon” passed the Oregon Senate Tuesday and moves on to the
amendment to the resolution removed wording that had
expressed “regret over the 1873 Modoc War execution of
Kintpuash” (Captain Jack) and three other Modocs.”
State Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, the resolution was
approved by 24 senators. Four senators were excused from
voting, including Sen. Dennis Linthicum, who represents the
Southern Oregon region where the Modocs were held as
prisoners and where the four were executed.
reportedly sponsored the resolution after viewing “The Modoc
War,” a documentary produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting.
The documentary dealt with Modoc War of 1872-73, one of the
most expensive Indian wars in U.S. history and the only one
in which a U.S. Army General, E.R.S. Canby, was killed.
event in Oregon’s history is relatively unknown,” Girod said
in a statement. “When I learned of the Modoc War and the
history of the Modoc tribe in Oregon, I felt that we needed
to do something to express regret and remember what
happened. While this resolution may be coming nearly 150
years later, I hope that this acknowledgment serves as the
catalyst for healing.”
Most of the key
battles were in California, including what is now Lava Beds
National Monument, although Captain Jack and five others
were tried and found guilty at Fort Klamath, then an Army
hanging of Jack and Schonchin John, Black Jim and Boston
Charley, the surviving Modocs were sent as prisoners of war
to Indian Lands, which later became Oklahoma. The Modocs
were later given permission to return to Oregon, with some
doing so and becoming part of the Klamath Tribes. Others
remained in Oklahoma, eventually being recognized as the
Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma. In recent months, the group has
rebranded itself as The Modoc Nation.
descendants who testified during a Senate Committee on
Veterans and Emergency Preparedness, Cheewa James and Allen
Nelson, expressed their thanks for the Senate’s actions.
an enrolled member of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma who lives
in Roseville, Calif., and appeared in and consulted on the
“Modoc War” documentary, thanks Girod. James termed the
resolution “a gracious act, one deserving to those who have
lived in the shadow of the Modoc War these many years. We
are all humans and all involved in the war are in need of
redemption for a terrible thing that happened years ago.”
National Park Service ranger at Lava Beds National Monument,
she has written two books about the Modoc War and people.
Her great-grandparents and grandfather, an infant during the
war, were among the 150 Modocs exiled to Oklahoma.
enrolled member of the Klamath Tribes, said the resolution
recognizes the Modocs “were fighting to protect their
families and their homeland just like anyone of us would do
under those circumstances.”
He termed the
resolution “a step forward in the healing process for the
spirit of our ancestors, the Modoc families, descendants and
to all the people who have suffered and sacrificed their
lives during that time ... The spirit of our Modoc ancestors
will live on and all that was done was not in vain but for
the Modoc people to live on.”
lives in Salem and works as a trainer and consultant with
tribes on historical trauma and the healing process, is
related to Scarfaced Charley.
Senate hearing, a letter from Klamath Tribes Chairman Don
Gentry was read. In part the letter said, “On behalf of the
Klamath Tribes, the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Paiute
people, I hereby express our overwhelming support of Senate
Concurrent Resolution 12 ... Acknowledging the truth of
wrongs done is a critical first step towards healing those
According to a
summary of the resolution’s “essential features,” it
outlines Captain Jack’s (Kintpuauh or Kientpoos) history and
the 1864 treaty between the United States and the Modoc,
Klamath and Yahooskin tribes.
notes incidents during the Modoc War of 1872-73, including
the battle in what is now known as Captain Jack’s Stronghold
that was decisively won by the Modocs.
It also notes
that “during a truce period on April 11, 1873, a group of
Modocs led by Kintpaush killed peace commissioner Rev.
Eleazer Thomas and Gen. Edward Canby, the highest-ranking
U.S. Army office to be killed during the Indians war.”
recounts Captain Jack’s capture, the trial in which he and
five other Modocs were found guilty of murdering Canby and
Thomas and attacking others by a federal military court at
notes Jack, Charley were “the first Indians to be tried and
executed by the federal government for war crimes.” Before
the hanging, the two others convicted, Brancho and Siolux,
sentences were commuted to life imprisonment at Alcatraz.
the summary notes about 150 Modocs were “herded into rail
cars and sent as prisoners of war to the Indian Territory
(Oklahoma)” and in 1909 offered the opportunity to return to
the Klamath Reservation, which was accepted by 29 Modocs.
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