The majority of Americans know who the Modocs are and where they live, for on a time their bravery and so-called treachery gave them widespread notoriety; but for those who do not know, the following sketch may be helpful. The Old Modoc Country was the valley of Lost River in Oregon, and the county adjacent to the shores of Little Klamath Lake, and Tula Lake which in main lies within the boundary of California. The country around Tula Lake is of volcanic formation and at the southern end of the lake are the lava beds about which so much was written during the Modoc War of 1872- 1873. Along the rivers and lakes the scenery is pleasing and in places, grand. Lake Klamath, nearly surrounded by mountains, is as beautiful as are the famed lakes of Italy and Switzerland. Mount Pitt, which, from a distance, seems to rise from the very shore of the lake, is snow-crowned except for a few weeks in midsummer. Mount Shasta is seen from its summit to the snow line. its siunmit to the snow line. The Modoc people beheve that Kumush created the world — the world in Modoc myth means the country inhabited by the Modocs and the tribes they come in contact with. —Hemade the mountains, lakes and rivers and gave them names. We are not told about the creation of the "first people,"those wonderful beings who inhabited the world before manwas created and were " so numerous that if a count could bemade of all the stars in the sky, all the feathers on birds, all the hairs and fur on animals, and all the hairs on our heads, they would not be as numerous." No man knows how long those " first people " lived, but after countless ages a time came when- they were transformed into beasts, reptiles, birds, fishes, insects, plants, stones, snow, earthquake, sun, moon and stars, in fact into every living thing, object, phenomenon and power outside of man. This transformation took place about the time that Kumush created the Modoc and other Indian tribes and gave them names, told them where their homes would be — designated the Klamath country for the Modocs — and established the present order of things.

 

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Myths of the Modocs - Jeremiah Curtin 1912

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