She said the Committee hopes the Tule Lake Unit, which is
part of the larger World War II Valor in the Pacific
National Monument, will serve as a unifying site for several
groups, noting, "The histories of Native Americans who
resisted removal programs that accommodated white settlers,
and the settlers and homesteaders who benefited from
government programs — are all part of Tule Lake’s history."
Farmers, residents respond to Tulelake council decision
Some were delighted, some were disappointed.
Following Tuesday's Tulelake City
Council meeting, where the council unanimously agreed to
sell land under the Tulelake Airport to the Modoc Tribe of
Oklahoma, several Tulelake Basin farmers and residents were
Over the past several months, many
have met with tribal leaders and supported the tribe's
efforts to purchase the land.
"It's not about money, it's about the
future of our community," Nick Macy, owner of Macy's Flying
Service, which has a long-term lease to operate the airport,
said after the meeting.
"The community is looking forward to
keeping our community whole. Any job is better than no job
in our community."
The flying service seasonally employs
between 35 and 40 people.
Macy said he believes Modoc Tribe
leaders are business-oriented and will seek ways to bolster
the region's economy.
He said discussions with tribal
leaders about their involvement with a payday loan scandal,
which resulted in prison terms for two people who devised
the scheme and a settlement that required the Modocs to pay
a $2 million fine, calmed concerns about tribal business
"I think we already have a good
relationship with the Tribe," Macy said.
Business at the forefront
Echoing those sentiments was John
Prosser, who raises barley and brew barley.
"I think it's the best thing that's
happened to this community in 66 years," Prosser said after
the meeting. "I'm getting tired of being sued every time we
turn around," he said, referring to lawsuits by the Tule
Lake Committee opposing plans to build a fence around the
airport and the litigation by the Klamath Tribes that if
successful would halt water deliveries to irrigators.
"I'm a farmer. I rely on that airport.
These are business people," he said, referring to Modoc
"It's a big deal to welcome these guy
back after 145 years," Prosser added, referring to Modocs
who were sent to what is now Oklahoma following the 1872-73
Modoc War. Although many Modocs later returned to the
Klamath Basin, others remained in Oklahoma and eventually
formed the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma.
Blake Follis, the Modoc Tribe's
attorney general, declined comment after the meeting. He has
not replied to telephone calls or emails since a brief
interview in May 2017. He and other tribal members,
including Chief Bill Follis, Blake's grandfather, were
warmly greeted by Tulelake Basin farmers and others after
the council decision.
After the meeting, Chester Robertson,
Modoc County administrative officer, said the county hopes
to work with the Modoc Tribe. After learning about the
Tribe's offer to purchase the land under the airport, which
is owned by Modoc County, he said county commissioners
offered to buy the land for the same price the Tribe
Robertson expressed concerns because
the county could be liable for millions of dollars if the
airport does not continue to be used as an airport, noting,
"We believe we have a continued interest to operate the
airport. We will need them (the Modoc Tribe) to work closely
Although primarily used for Macy's
Flying Service, Robertson said the airport serves other
purposes. In case of, for example, a major traffic accident,
injured people can be flown to distant medical facilities.
In case of forest fires, the airport can serve as a command
base for fire response crews.
Looking at options
"Of course we're disappointed," said
Barbara Takei, representing the Tule Lake Committee, a group
that includes Japanese Americans who were held in the Tule
Lake Segregation Center during World War II, of the council
decision. "We're exploring our options."
When asked if the council discussed
the Committee's offer to buy the rights to land under the
airport for $40,000, a higher offer than the Modoc Tribe's
$17,500 offer, Takei said, "We don't know if it was
While he couldn't discuss specifics,
Mayor Hank Ebinger said the offer from the Tule Lake
Committee and the verbal offer from Modoc County were
thoroughly discussed during the executive session. "It was
discussed fairly, honestly and sincerely," he said after the
Ebinger said the Committee offered to
withdraw its lawsuit over the proposed fence if their bid
was accepted, but said he believes the Modoc Tribe proposal
was the best for the city because of the tribe's interest in
stimulating the city and region's economy.
"They're going to bring business into
here and we need that. This was not some knee-jerk reaction,
this was not some protest against any group," Ebinger said,
noting the sale has been under consideration for several
Speaking for himself he added, "We
thought the best hope for our community was to go with the
Modoc offer ... they're business-oriented."
Ebinger said he and council members
previously discussed the Modoc Tribe's involvement in the
payday loan scandal and concluded, "That was a completely
separate incident and they paid their penalty. I believe
they've learned from their mistakes ... I think they just
want to be good neighbors."
Two meetings in one
The Tulelake City Council held two
council meetings Tuesday. The council held a special meeting
4:15 p.m. at the Tulelake City Hall. During most of the
meeting the council met in a half-hour long closed executive
session to discuss offers to buy the city-owned land under
the Tulelake Airport.
Because of a large turnout for the
regular council meeting at 5:30 p.m., the session was moved
to the Tulelake Multi County Fire Department, where engines
were removed from a large garage and chairs were set up to
accommodate about 70 people.