In the northeastern corner of California in rural Modoc County, volcanoes have left an incredible, massive lava field. You can explore the lava tubes like subway caves underground, as well as check out rock art left by the Modoc Indians.
After traveling there in 2003 and learning about the Modoc uprising against the U.S. Army in 1872-3, I wrote the song “Captain Jack and The Modoc War” and put it on my 2006 album Tales From California. KPOV radio in Oregon is now featuring the tune as part of their “Calling All Cowboys” series, with a segment devoted exclusively to songs about Captain Jack, the Modoc leader.
Jack led the Modocs back to their ancestral homeland, after broken promises left them in a bad situation on a reservation in Oregon. They held off the U.S. Army for months in a lava stronghold, but eventually lost after making an ill-fated decision to assassinate the general in charge of the campaign (the only general killed in an Indian war). Jack and other leaders were hanged and the tribe was relocated to Oklahoma.
It’s a tragic story but one that should be a more prominent part of our western history. You can listen to the segment here, with my song starting around 46:40.