Visiting my brother, Jim Hertel in Alturas, CA is always fun. He has Coastwide Contractors and knows the area pretty well, so we get stories, directions to places of interest and bits of history. The whole county is spectacularly beautiful with vistas and High Sierra pine forests. Tules and wild grasses in the wetlands that were used for baskets. Lots of game for hunting, in fact the hunters are all over the place in season. Plus Rockhounds can explore and find lots of good material.
Since I’m always on the prowl for Trade Beads and the history of them, I like to snoop around. Owen and I stopped to check out the Modoc County Museum in Alturas and had a really lovely time. A real “homey” place, the kind we like, with wonderful collections from folks throughout the area. If you go to the Museum you’re going to see artifacts from all over the Modoc County area and since the county is mostly rural there are very many family collections there. There was a great basket display and we enjoyed the extensive gun collection.
One can learn a lot about an area from visiting the local museum. The county is named Modoc County from the Modoc Indians that historically lived there and still do. The Museum had a few trade beads on display; lots of Dentalium with Hudson’s Bay White Hearts and small Padre’s. These Modoc Indians traditionally traded with the Klamath, the Siletz, Hoopa to the west, and then to the north were the Cayuse and the Umatilla, and then the Chinook. All of them traveled up to The Dalles, Celilo Falls, on the Columbia River to trade and harvest Salmon. I’ve also posted about this location and the trade that went on there.
The next time we visit Jim I’m hoping he’ll take us up to the Lava Beds National Monument where the 1873 Modoc War took place. Pioneers had been wrangling with the Modoc since 1847 and earlier. This war in 1873 was the last big event of their resistance fight. Captain Jack was a Modoc Indian holdout against peace with the white settlers. He was killed in 1873 along with other native holdouts. Of course, the whole thing was a huge sorrowful mess like usual with the natives in those days. 100 or more years later things are better. Like most other tribes now they have a little casino there and live all around the area, with plans to expand. We visited there with my brother and found it friendly and cozy. They definitely need a hotel and I think that should be in the plans!