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The Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma

When California's Modoc war ended in 1873, 153 Modoc men, women and children were sent to the Quapaw Agency in Indian Territory (now Ottawa County, OK as prisoners of war. The years following removal were difficult for the Modoc as little food, clothing and medical care was provided them. It is a tribute to their courage and determination that despite the poor living conditions, the Modoc people at the Quapaw Agency survived. Finally in 1909, the U. S. government felt the Modoc had been punished enough and allowed those who chose to return to the Klamath Agency, OR (Act of March 3, 1909, 35 Stat., 751). Several did return; however, a few families chose to remain in their new home, The descendants of those who remained were recognized as the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma in May 1978.

In 1909, 29 Modoc were reported to have returned to the Klamath reservation back in Oregon according to a letter dated May 24, 1911. The letter was from the Acting Commissioner C.B. Hawke to US Senator George E. Chamberlain. Some of these 29 had been known to have returned to Oregon prior to 1909.

The history of the Modoc of Oklahoma as a distinct entity is considered to begin in November, 1873 – the time they arrived at the Quapaw Agency. It should be noted that of the nearly forty tribes now based in Oklahoma, only the Modoc have their roots based in the West Coast. Today, the Modoc to Oklahoma use a flag that closely associates them with their new homeland. As described by Chief Bill G. Follis:

"The flag of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma is medium b1ue, as is the f1ag of Oklahoma, bearing the name Modoc across the top in yellow and Oklahoma also in yellow across the bottom. Between these two words appears the great seal of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma.

The seal is round, edged in white. From the seal hang ten feathers in black and white with tufts of yellow and red. The central design of the seal is an eagle in natural colors flying over a dark blue ocean with a coastline appearing at the bottom of the seal. To the left, a patch of brown and gold coastline symbolizes the original homeland of the Modoc people in southern Oregon and northern California."

The use of black, white, yellow and red for the feathers tie the Modoc to other Native Peoples. The four colors are found in many tribal flags - they are the considered the four primary colors in Native art and have several spiritual and sacred meanings. These feathers had been reported to symbolize the ten clans of the Modoc people, BUT - according to Tribal Historian Patricia S. Trolinger, the Modoc did not have clans, so this is incorrect.

 

The flag became the official flag of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma in 1978.

Chief Follis is the ultimate authority on the flag of the Modoc of Oklahoma since he designed it. Chief Follis became the third chairman of the Modoc in Oklahoma in 1972 at which time the tribe was not yet federally recognized. Federal recognizition did not come to the Modoc until May, 1978. After the Modoc were terminated with the Klamath Tribe (back in Oregon) in 1954, all tribes in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma banded together to establish the Inter-Tribal Council, Inc. of Northeastern Oklahoma. At that time, the Modoc formed an unofficial tribal government. This is when the term "Chairman" came into use by the Modoc. Chief Follis was the first federally recognized Chief of the Modoc in Oklahoma since the death of Bogus Charley in 1880. There were several Modoc chiefs at the Quapaw Agency after Bogus but they were only recognized as such by the Modoc people.

Thanks to Chief Bill G. Follis and Modoc Tribal Historian Patricia Scruggs Trolinger for providing and correcting the information on the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603