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Hope for Modoc identity
Some Modocs seek to separate from Klamath Tribes
By Lee Juillerat, Herald and News 10/7/09
Modoc Indians seeking their own identity and tribe will host a meeting of Modoc people Friday night to explain and, they hope, enlist support to separate from the Klamath Tribes.
“We are our own people. This is our land. We have to stand up to get it back,” said Wayne Anderson, who is leading efforts of Modoc Indians for a “Declaration of the Rights of the Free and Sovereign People of the Modoc Indian Tribe.”
Anderson and Two Eagles, also known as Perry Chestnut, who was adopted into the Anderson family and Modoc Tribe by the late Miller Anderson, said they want to preserve Modoc tribal and cultural traditions. “They’re being assimilated,” said Chestnut, who estimates there are more than 200 people with Modoc heritage in the Klamath Basin. “The Modoc Tribe is being extinguished as a government and tribal entity.”
Chestnut said he and several Modocs believe their interests are overridden by Klamath Indians, who are the majority of the Klamath Tribes, the federally recognized tribal organization for Klamath, Modoc and Yakooskin people.
“I know there’s a lot of dissatisfaction among the Modocs with the way that confederacy has worked out,” Chestnut said. “Their interests are always neglected and never brought to the table.”
During the meeting, Chestnut and Anderson said they will explain how preparing a declaration can be a first step to establishing a Modoc self-government and sovereignty over ancestral homelands.
They said people of mixed blood have the right under federal law to choose their tribal affiliation. Signature sheets will be available for people age 18 and older to declare their identity as Modoc..
“The Modocs in the Klamath Basin have no separate identity anymore,” Chestnut said, noting there were efforts to create a separate tribe more than a decade ago by Miller Anderson, Wayne’s father.
“There’s been 136 years of the Klamaths having their way,” he said, noting differences between Modocs and Klamaths that, in part, led to the Modoc War and more recent disagreements about water dealings affecting Lower Klamath Lake, Lost River and Clear Lake.
“Our culture is being taken away from us day-by-day,” Anderson said. “We’re a lost people. We’re not a lost people without a cause. We’re trying to get peace of mind, to get what’s ours.”
A call to the Klamath Tribes for comment was not immediately returned.
Meeting set for Friday evening
“Reclaiming That Which is Sacred: A Call to Action,” is the topic for a meeting set for 7 pm. Friday at the Klamath County Commissioners hearing room at the Government Center, 305 Main St.
The speaker will be Two Eagles, also known as Perry Chestnut who lives in Issaquah, Wash., is a former Klamath Basin resident who was adopted into the Miller family and the Modoc Tribe in 1992 by the late Miller Anderson.
About the Modocs
The Modocs are American Indians who originally lived in a region of northeastern California and southeastern Oregon that now includes areas of Siskiyou, Modoc and Klamath counties. Estimates for the precontact populations of most native groups in California have varied from 400 to 500.
Following the 1872-73 Modoc War, 155 Modocs who were followers of Captain Jack were forced onto trains and sent to Oklahoma. In 1909 they were allowed to return to Oregon, but only 29 did.
The Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, which was federally recognized by the U..S. in 1978, is headquartered in Miami, Okla., in the northeastern part of the state. Of the 200 enrolled tribal members, 120 live in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Modocs operate their own housing authority, casino, tribal smoke shop, Red Cedar Recycling, Modoc Buffalo Project and Modoc Flooring. They also issue their own tribal license plates. The casino is in Miami and includes a restaurant, gift shop and hotel.
The Oregon Modocs are enrolled in the federally recognized Klamath Tribes. Several hundred live in the Klamath Basin, although many have intermarried within the Klamath and other tribes.
Page Updated: Thursday October 08, 2009 02:35 AM Pacific
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