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History: Modoc Indian tribe's legacy, ties to Oklahoma explained

Oklahoman Published: October 1, 2008
September 24, 2008, was a special day in the life of the Modoc Indian tribe and especially the family of the late Frank Modoc.

In a strange twist of fate, Modoc fought in the 1873 California/Oregon Modoc War — a six-month-long, last-ditch effort for the Modocs to cling to their ancestral lands. It is generally acknowledged that much of the Modoc culture, including the language, was lost in the war.

At the war's end, 150 men, women and children were put in chains and sent as prisoners of war to Indian Territory. An additional 100 Modocs, who did not participate in the war, remained on a reservation in Oregon. Families were split, separated by half a continent. Relatives were torn from one another. Tribal culture and structure fell into decline.

Like almost all of the Modoc exiles, Frank Modoc became a Quaker. But he was no ordinary Quaker. His dream was to become a Quaker pastor, and in pursuit of that, he traveled in the mid 1880s to Vassalboro, Maine, to study at the Oak Grove Seminary. He left his son, Elwood, in the care of Oklahoma relatives. His wife, Alice, had died a few years before of tuberculosis, a major killer of the Modocs.

Frank Modoc was known among Quakers for his preaching. He spoke English, but members of the Friends in Maine order were particularly moved when this 6-foot-tall Indian would pray and speak in Modoc.

Frank's dream was never fulfilled.

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