Published on January 14, 2012 by Casey
Kintpuash (Strikes the water brashly), better known as Captain Jack (circa 1837 – October 3, 1873), was a chief of the Native American Modoc tribe of California and Oregon, and was their leader during the Modoc War.
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In 1864, the Modoc lived with each other in their ancestral home near Tule Lake, on the California-Oregon border. However, due to the desire of white settlers to farm the fertile land, they were moved to the Klamath Reservation in southwestern Oregon, home of their traditional rivals, the Klamath tribe. As the Klamath outnumbered their newcomers, and the reservation was on traditional Klamath land, the Modoc were poorly treated.
In 1865, Kintpuash, a Modoc leader better known as Captain Jack, led the Modoc people from the reservation back to their home. In 1869, the Modoc were rounded up by the United States Army and returned to the Klamath Reservation, but conditions had not improved, and Captain Jack led a band of about 180 Modoc to the Tule Lake area in April, 1870.
Over the next several months, various groups of Modoc continued to fight the army, while others began to surrender. Captain Jack successfully avoided the Army until a number of Modoc agreed to hunt him down and turn him in; these men included Hooker Jim, Bogus Charley, Shacknasty Jim and Steamboat Frank. On June 1, Captain Jack surrendered, ceremonially laying down his rifle. He was taken to Fort Klamath, and on October 3, 1873 he was hanged for the murder of General Canby and Reverend Thomas. Black Jim, John Schonchin and Boston Charley were hanged with him.
After the execution, Captain Jack’s body was transported by freight train to Yreka, with reports that the body was embalmed to be used as a carnival attraction in the Eastern states. This was unproven and attributed to the army’s attempt at secrecy; in reality all the hanged men’s heads were severed from their bodies at Fort Klamath, and sent on October 25 by train to the collections of the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C. In 1898, the skulls were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. In the 1970s, descendants of Captain Jack learned that the skull was at the Smithsonian. In 1984, the Smithsonian returned the remains to Kintpuash’s relatives, along with the skulls of Boston Charley, Black Jim and John Schonchin and an unknown woman from the Lava Beds.
The “Captain Jack Substation”, a Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) electrical substation named in Kintpuash’s honor, is located near Captain Jack’s Stronghold. It forms the northern end of Path 66, a high-power electric transmission line.