Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Native American Biographies: Modoc Wars: Captain Jack, Hooker Jim, Scarface Charlie, Winema, Schonchin Jim

Captain Jack
Captain Jack aka Kintpuash, struggled his whole life to preserve Modoc Independence.  This tribe straddled the California Oregon border.  He encouraged peace and trade with the Whites most of his life.  However when he was still young, Chief Old Chief Schonchin Jim negotiated a treaty with the settlers.  He said he would not harm and newcomers, and kept his word.  However they had to give up all of their land in California, and move onto a reservation with the Klamath in Oregon.  The Klamath were their traditional enemies.  After moving to the reservation, the Modoc felt the Klamath were treated better.  They long for their home.  Finally Captain Jack had enough, and returned to California.  Of course the local troops were sent to force them back to Oregon.  Captain jack lead his people to an area in the lava rocks, which was naturally defended.  The troops had great difficulty.  Captain jack was able to defend the area with few men.
Hooker Jim had taken a different strategy to the plight of the Native Americans, that of seeking revenge by killing Whites whenever he could.  The were escaping pursuit, and also fled to Captain Jack's stronghold.
While they negotiated, slowly General Edward Canby and his men slowly surrounded the area.  They had a thousand soldiers.  Canby continued to negotiate with them.  Hooker Jim convinced Captain Jack that Canby was the problem.  SO they bush whacked the negotiating party, killing Canby and several others.
Hooker Jim betrayed Captain Jack, leading the federals to his camp.  He was taken prisoner.  Captain Jack was tried without representation and sentenced to death.  He and a few others were hung.  Hooker Jim escaped for his treachery.
Winema aka Toby Riddle was Captain Jack's cousin.  She advocated for a peaceful resolution to the Modoc War.  However her cousin did not agree with her.  Winema often served as translator as she was fluent in both English and Modoc.  She had married a white rancher, and lost status among her people for a time, but her skill as an interpreter restored her status.  She had heard of the treachery Captain Jack had put in play for Canby and his men.  She warned them, however they didn't head her warning.  Winema was able to rescue one negotiator.  Following the Modoc war she went on tour, presenting a dramatization of her life, "Tragedy of the Lava Beds."  This informed the public of the Modoc troubles.  She was also granted a government pension which she used for the benefit of the Modocs.
Scarface Charlie received his name from a childhood accident where he fell from a coach and either hit a rock or the wheel.  He was Captain Jack's war chief.  Captain jack never lost a battle when Scarface served as chief.  He advocated peace, but was a very good tactician.  He was involved in all the major battles.  However in the battle in the lava beds, Captain Jack himself served as War Chief.  The Battle of Hardin Butte (Thomas-Wright Massacre) is one of the best laid battle plans in history.  WIth only 22 soldiers they ambushed 80 infantry.  After killing 27 and wounding 17, they found they couldn't get to the rest.  Scarface said, all you fellows that ain't dead had better go home.  We don't want to kill you all in one day."  Even though Captain Jack was executed, Sarface was spared becasue of his mercy in battle.  "The Bismarck of the band . . . a warrior in arms against our troops and today there are no regrets that he should be pardoned and at large."  Scarface became chief of the Modocs, and he and the remaining Modocs went to Indian Territory.

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