Famous Modoc Chiefs

Famous Modoc Chiefs and Warriors

The Modoc tribe originally lived in what is now northeastern California and central Southern Oregon in the Plateau Culture Region. Today, they are organized as the federally recongnized Modoc Indians of Oklahoma.Here are profiles of some famous Modoc chiefs and leaders.

Curley Headed Doctor, a spiritual leader.

Kintpuash (Captain Jack)  c.1837 – October 3, 1873,- Modoc warrior who led the Modoc War.

Kaitchkona Winenta also spelled Winema(Kitchkani laki shnawedsh, meaning Woman Chief) b. 1842 – Also known as Toby Riddle. She received this name when only a child, when she guided a canoe safely through the rapids of Link River. She justified her title again when only 15 years old by rallying the Modoc warriors as they took to flight when surprised by a band of Achomawi. Wife of Frank Riddle, a miner from Kentucky. 

Scar Face Charley (Chǐkclǐkam-Lupalkuelátko, meaning ‘wagon scar-faced’) d. abt Dec. 3, 1896. – A celebrated warrior, best known through his connection with Kintpuash, during the Modoc War of 1873.

He was run over by a mail stage as a boy, causing his disfigurement.

Captain Jack referred to him as a relative, but others said that he was a Rogue River Indian of the Tipsoe Tyee (Bearded Chief’s) band and joined Capt Jack some years prior to the war of 1873, when he was 22.

He led the Modoc against Major Thomas and Col. Wright when the white troops were so disastrously repulsed with a loss of about two-thirds killed and wounded.

Wearied of the slaughter, Scar Face Charley is said to have shouted to the survivors, “You who are not dead had better go home; we don’t want to kill you all in a day!” Later he said, ” My heart was sick at seeing so many men killed.”

Schonchin – He took an active part in the early hostilities between the Modoc and the whites, leading about 600 warriors in 1846.

He was the recognized head-chief of the Modoc at the time of the Modoc War of 1872-73, although some disputed his authority on the grounds he was not a hereditary chief.

He signed the Treaty of 1864, and remained on the reservation with the peaceful Modocs during the Modoc War of 1872-73.

Schonchin John, (younger brother of Schonchin) – Left the reservation and returned to Lost River, the former home of the tribe, along with other followers of Captain Jack.

It is believed that Schonchin John, more than any other member of the tribe, was influential in keeping up the strife.

He repeatedly advised continuing the fight when Jack would have made peace, and he is considered responsible for many of the inhuman acts committed. He was hanged at Ft Klamath, Oct. 3, 1873.

About 600 members of the original Modoc tribe currently live in Klamath County, Oregon, in and around their ancestral homelands. This group included the Modoc who stayed on the reservation during the Modoc War, as well as the descendants of those who chose to return to Oregon in 1909 from Indian Territory in Oklahoma and Kansas. 

Along with the Yahooskin and Klamath people in Oregon, they are known collectively today as the Klamath Tribes.

Two hundred Modoc still live in Oklahoma on a small reservation in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, purchased for them by the federal government.

Originally they were placed on the Quapaw Indian Reservation at the far northeast corner of Oklahoma. They are descendants of the Modoc band led by Captain Jack (Kintpuash) during the Modoc War.

They were officially recognized by the United States government in 1978 as the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, and their constitution was approved in 1991.