Modoc (mōˈdŏk) [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Sahaptin-Chinook branch of the Penutian linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They formerly lived in SW Oregon and N California, particularly around Modoc Lake (also known as Lower Klamath Lake) and Tule Lake. Modoc culture was similar to the culture of the Klamath, but the Modoc did not rely as heavily on the wokas, or water-lily seeds, for food. There was considerable trouble between the Modoc and the early white settlers, with atrocities being committed on both sides. The Modoc were finally constrained to live (1864) on the Klamath Reservation in Oregon, but most of the tribe was dissatisfied. In 1870, Chief Kintpuash, or Captain Jack, led a group back to California and refused to return to the reservation. The attempt to bring them back brought on the Modoc War (1872–73). After the Modoc War, the Modoc people were divided; some were sent to Oklahoma (where a few remain) and some to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon. The Modoc in Oregon share lands with the Klamath and Snake. In 1990 there were some 500 Modoc in the United States.
See V. F. Ray, Primitive Pragmatists: The Modoc Indians of Northern California (1963), R. H. Dillea, Burnt-Out-Fires (1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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