ethanessig May/ 28/ 2018 | 0
Leading through the End:
Being a leader is quite the challenge. Many of us have a leadership role in some capacity. I am about to tell you a story of a leader who was only left with bad decisions; this person was Kintpuash, also known as Captain Jack. Captain Jack was chief of the Modoc tribe from the Pacific Northwest.
In 1870, Captain Jack did something bold. He leads a band of his people off the Klamath Reservation where they were forced to live with two other tribes that they did not exactly love. Specifically, the Klamath tribe harassed the Modoc and fueled their desire to return to their homeland. Captain Jack gave his people that freedom back for a time.
A short success:
The Modoc’s were back in their home near Lost River. The sight of settlers quickly spoiled the joy of returning to their lands. Six years was a long time, but the Modoc’s were still angry about these people being on the ground that they felt was rightfully theirs.
In the Spring of 1870, Jack and his warriors began to take action. Nothing extreme, but little offenses against the settlers such as randomly walking into homes, demanding food and intentionally frightening women and children. They continued these actions for two years, and tensions grew to a boiling point between them and the settlers.
The result of Jack and the Modoc’s actions was the arrival of General Canby, a man who had experience with tribes all across the country.
The end begins:
Canby began his time in Oregon with hopes for peace; Captain Jack had the same aspirations. The trouble was convincing their people to want the same result. Oregon’s settlers conspired against the Modoc’s. They were tired of being harassed in their own homes and on what they considered their land. The Modoc’s, of course, did not feel the same way.
On November 28th, 1872, the orders were given by a man named Odeneal (orders he was not allowed to provide) to go to Lost River with 35 troops. Captain James Jackson led these troops. Captain Jack learned of the incoming forces. He leads the people to the Lava Beds at Tule Lake. It was here, at their “stone house” that Jack would try to save his people.
The real antagonist of Captain Jack’s ending is a sub-chief named Hooker Jim. Jim lead a band of aggressive Modoc’s who were against Jack’s search for peace. They quickly retaliated to the troop’s approach by murdering 14 unsuspecting men. Captain Jack knew this act would ruin any hope for peace. This also marked the downfall of Captain Jacks significance as the leader.
First Attempt on the Fortress:
January 17th marked the beginning of fighting at the Lava Beds. Jack wanted to surrender to the approaching army. A medicine man named Curly-Headed Doctor believed his medicine would bring them victory. The majority of Modoc men elected to fight, and Curly-Headed Doctor began his work dancing around the council fire on the eve of battle.
The army had the numbers and resources to defeat the Modoc’s, but they were not prepared to face the Lava Beds. Men tore boots and ruined equipment of the cutting surfaces. It was a slow disaster. Modoc warriors were able to operate as ghosts, moving quickly and unseen across their stronghold. Curly-Headed Doctor’s medicine seemed to work, and the Modocs became more confident, except for Jack. Captain Jack had lost the majority of his supporters. Only a few dozens remained with him, but General Canby did not know this change. He sought to negotiate with Jack.
Now, Its All Up to Jack:
Hooker Jim and other militant Modoc’s were refusing to surrender to the army. Fearing they would hang for the murders committed months earlier. The pressure was on Jack. He was alone in making peace with the military, and the militants were permanently keeping the tribe hostage in the stronghold.
While there was strife among the Modoc’s, Canby made his move to try and settle the situation. Canby brought six more regular companies of soldiers into the area, giving him a total of 500 men. With an even more significant threat on their doorstep, Captain Jack agreed to meet with Canby on April 2nd.
Jack had high demands; return all Modoc ponies and leave. That was not going to work for the army. Canby did not consent but spent most of the negotiation listening to the struggling Modoc Chief. With a failed first round of the talks, Captain Jack had to go back to his tribesman with a plan.
Captain Jack was forced to give himself an ultimatum. He told his counsel that if Canby would not provide them with a home on Modoc land, then he would kill him. If Captain Jack could not persuade Canby to concede to his wishes, then the general’s death would set the end of the Modoc nation in motion.
The final council met on Good Friday, April 11th, 1873. Several officers had heard rumors that Jack was being forced to take drastic measures at the committee. A woman named Toby (she was part of Modoc and helping with negotiations) begged Canby not to participate, but Canby moved forward with the plan anyway.
Canby and his men arrived to see that Captain Jack had already broken a part of their deal. Jack promised to bring five unharmed Modocs, but six armed Modocs were present. This betrayal did not phase Canby. He sat opposite the nervous Jack, offering them all cigars and kind words. Hooker Jim was one of the Modocs’ present, making sure that Captain Jack stayed true to his word.
Jack and Canby refused to budge. Each demanded full consent from the other. There was no give at all. Jack knew he had to follow through on his word. The Chief went to relieve himself, and suddenly two Modoc warriors jumped from the shadows. All the Modocs had their weapons drawn on Canby and his men. Canby was in shock. Captain Jack stepped towards Canby, who was frozen and shot him in the left eye. This did not kill the General. Canby rose and made a run for it. Captain Jack and another warrior named Ellen’s Man chased Canby down, shooting him one more time, and Jack slit his throat to make sure the deed was accomplished.
He did not understand the double standard being placed upon him.
If the white men that killed our women and children had been tried and punished, I would not have thought so much of myself and companions. Do we Indians stand any show for justice with you white people, with your own laws? I say no. I know it. You people can shoot any Indians any time you want whether we are in war or in peace. I charge the white people with wholesale murder.” Captain Jack, Chief of the Modoc’s
Captain Jack was a loved and respected leader who found himself in the worst situation. Seeing no way out with peace, no compromising with his foes within and out of his tribe, no way to save his people. Jack thought the only way out was murder. That act would give him revenge and the respect of his aggressive tribesmen. It only resulted in more loss.