Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma buys 800 acres near
The Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, which includes descendants of Modoc
Indians removed from their ancestral lands following the end of
the 1872-73 Modoc War, has purchased 800 acres of land near Lava
Beds National Monument.
attorney for the Modoc Tribe and a member of the tribal council,
confirmed the purchase of the land was done earlier this year.
“I’m not at
liberty to say what the tribe wants to do with it,” Hollis said.
“When we’re ready we’ll make a decision known.” The tribe is
based in Miami, Oklahoma.
price for the acreage, located north and west of the park, was
$250,000. The land purchased by the tribe was known historically
as the Fleener Homestead and was owned by Sam Fleener, who
served as a teamster during the Modoc War. Fleener’s Chimney, a
group of volcanic vents and spatter cones within the Lava Beds,
is named for him.
O’Keeffe, whose family had owned most of the area since 1929,
said it has limited access. A well provides water for about 160
acres, while the rest of the land is sagebrush, juniper and lava
rock. He said the property, which was last used for cattle
grazing about 35 years ago, had been for sale for four or five
years. Most of the land is surrounded by national forest.
visited the region earlier this year, during a tour of Lava Beds
when discussions were being held about upgrading the national
monument to a national park. He said Petroglyph Point, an area
that features more than 5,000 carved petroglyphs made 4,000 to
6,000 years ago, is an area of pride and concern.
“This is part
of our history, our creation,” Follis said.
tour, Follis said he had made several previous visits to
Petroglyph Point and other areas in the park, including
significant sites from the Modoc War. He is the
great-great-great-grandson of Long Jim, the youngest Modoc
warrior during the war. He’s also the grandson of Chief Bill
Follis, the tribal leader for the past 45 years.
war, four tribal leaders, including Captain Jack, Schonchin
John, Black Jim and Boston Charlie, were hanged at Fort Klamath.
On Oct. 12, 1873, 155 Modoc prisoners of war — 42 men, 59 women
and 54 children — left Fort Klamath and were taken by train to
the Quapaw Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. After six years,
their population shrank to 99, and by 1891 to 68. In recent
years — the Modoc Tribe in Oklahoma was granted federal
recognition in 1978 — the number of enrollees has risen to
nearly 300, Follis said.
lives in Miami, in northeastern Oklahoma, Follis said in an
interview earlier this year that the Lava Beds region is also
talking about a location my family fought and died for. The
significance for me is to bring back my son and show him what
and where we came from,” he said.
tribal status, he said, the Modoc Tribe is “looking for
opportunities to invest in the region,” culturally and
historically, with a goal of returning to Lava Beds and the
years we’ve been establishing a solid foundation to make this
journey back. We don’t want to convey an impression we’re here
to take over. We want to be a partner. ... We don’t want to
displace anybody like they displaced us.”
— Reach freelance writer Lee
Juillerat at email@example.com or
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