For nearly seven months, a handful of Modoc Indian warriors and their families, led by Captain Jack, held off hundreds of U.S. Army soldiers along the Oregon-California border during the Modoc War of 1872-73.
The Modoc War began in November 1872 when the military tried to force a small band of Modoc Indians onto a reservation. The Modocs retreated to the Lava Fields in Northern California, committed to fighting for their way of life.
Captain Jack’s cousin, Toby Riddle, also known as Winema, acted as a translator between the Modocs and the U.S. Army while the two sides tried to reach an agreement. Toby was married to Frank Riddle, a white man who also served as translator during the negotiations.
Ultimately, peace negotiations broke down. Although the intrepid Modocs managed to hold off the U.S. Army for more than seven months, their attempts to win the war proved unsuccessful.
To learn more about the roles Toby and her husband Frank played in the Modoc War, watch the Oregon Experience documentary “The Modoc War.”