Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Indian Wells CG-Lava Beds NM - 07/06/16 - Tulelake, CA

Wednesday – July 6, 2016
Lava Beds National Monument
Tulelake, California


We were not thrilled with the campsite we had selected on Tuesday at the Indian Well Campground, located within the Lava Beds National Monument. This morning we selected another campsite that offered more privacy. We have decided to extend our stay here through Sunday, so this new campsite will be our home base while we explore the rich history of this enchanting area.

Lava Beds National Monument was established in 1925 to protect the volcanic land, the numerous caves, and the history of its early human occupation by the Modoc Indians. Within this northern region of California, 500,000 years ago, the Earth opened, cracking and sputtering. It released liquid rock and rivers of fire across the landscape. Intermittent eruptions over thousands of years layered the land, leaving intricate caves, cones, craters, and black, jagged blankets of lava.

The Modoc called this the land of "burnt-out fires." Tule Lake and Lava Beds were then, and are today, the center of their world. The Modoc life and culture was perfectly tuned to this environment and the richness of the resources it provided. They lived in semi-permanent winter villages along Lost River and Tule Lake. Each year as winter turned to spring, they began a seasonal round of fishing, hunting, and gathering. Ragged and rough, the terrain of the lava flows could be dangerous, but to the Modoc it was a sacred landscape. It provided bounty in the hunt and challenged those seeking power and knowledge through vision quests.

The Modoc and their ancestors lived in this rugged land for over 10,000 years. Following the rhythms of nature, they moved freely across the land until they were forcibly removed. The blazing of the Applegate Trail through the heart of the Modoc territory was the beginning of the end for the traditional Modoc way of life. Increasing numbers of white settlers claimed ancestral Modoc land, conflicts escalated, and both sides resorted to violent attacks. By the 1860’s settlers demanded area tribes be moved to the Kalmath Reservation in Oregon. The Modoc reluctantly signed a treaty, but consistently requested a reservation in their homeland. Poo conditions and disagreements with other tribes on the reservation convinced some Modoc to return home. Broken promises, bitter resentments, and distrust made negotiations impossible.

The Modoc War began on November 29, 1872, when troops from Fort Kalmath tried to force the resisting Modoc back to the reservation. They fled to the natural fortress of the lava beds, to what today is called "Captain Jacks Stronghold." In April 1873 peace talks began. A Modoc woman married to a white settler served as an interpreter between the Modoc and the Army. Kientpoos (Captain Jack) wanted his people to be allowed to stay in their homeland. He also wanted peace. Modoc society ruled by consensus. Remembering the 1852 slaughter of 30 members of their tribe, a majority voted to eliminate the peace commissioners. On April 11, 1873, peace commissioners General Edward Canby and Reverend Eleazar Thomas were killed (the only general to have been killed in an Indian war). General William Sherman soon called for the "utter extermination" of the Modoc.

For six months 1,000 troops and volunteers fought to capture fewer than 60 Modoc warriors and their families. Those who resisted were exiled to the Quapaw Agency in Oklahoma. Kientpoos surrendered on June 1, 1873 and was later hanged with three others.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

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