Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm back with my brood from 9 days of camping atop the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano

—the largest and probably least known volcano in all of the Cascade range (least known because shield volcanoes do not conform to the classic volcano shape, like Mt. Shasta seen beyond Medicine Lake in the photo above). It is breathtakingly rugged and desolate country, even today, but history tells us that no place in America was too remote or god-forsaken to preclude a prolonged and expensive Indian war.

My fascination with the Modocs and the Lava Beds continues to grow, and I've come back wondering why so little has been written about E. R. S. Canby. Maybe a little more reading on my part will answer that question. Maybe there is more out there than I realize, beyond the 1959 biography, and pieces in various periodic literature.

Far West tribes, too, are given short shrift in the literature. Two Lakota chiefs, a Hunkpapa and an Oglala, will be forever remembered for their part in the death of a vainglorious lieutenant colonel in Montana, but the Modoc who killed the only general to die in the Indian wars, and who did so reluctantly, falls short of the threshold of most general histories of westward expansion. East Coast media bias.

More on that later.

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