( - promoted by navajo)
Prior to contact, the Modoc people inhabited an area approximately 5,000 square miles in southern Oregon and the northeastern corner of California, where today Modoc County corresponds somewhat to traditional geography. To the southwest (moowat and Tgalam) Mt. Shasta rises up, covered in shining blue ice. Modoc people would make pilgrimages to the sacred mountain every year, but would not dwell there. Sacred journeys were also made to Medicine Lake: a healing volcanic feature now used as a recreation park. To the east (lobiitdal') lies Goose Lake, and to the north (yaamat) in Klamath land is Mt. Mazama. Today, Mazama is known as Crater Lake.
Thousands of years ago, oral traditional states, the ancestors of the Modoc and the much more numerous Klamath people hid in caves from the catastrophic eruption of Mazama. Beyond the terrifying images of raining ash and fire imaginable, this event affected world climate.
In between these boundaries are Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, Lost, Williamson and Sprague Rivers, hundreds of marshes, many seasonally dry, pine forests, the lush Cascade mountains, high desert, and alkali flats most desolate in appearance. The geography dictated the lifestyle: considered harsh by other Indian peoples, Modocs were nonetheless blessed with the bounty of wocas, a pond-lily seed, during the annual harvest season, salmon and suckerfish, as well as plentiful duck, pelican, goose and other waterfowl, many deer, moose, bear, elk, and delicious berries and roots like camas. Traditionally, they are a weaving and hunting people. Tule reed is the principle fabric source.
This stark land was one of the last places in the 48 where European settlers, desirous for land, timber and gold, would venture. It would become the setting for the most expensive Indian war in US history.