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As It Was: Shasta Children Hide Like Fawns in the Woods from Modoc Warriors

In the mid-to-late 19th century, the Northern California Shasta tribe faced frequent attacks by Modoc Tribe warriors seeking slaves.

One afternoon, Shasta women were scouring the mountainside for herbs and plants, when they urged a mother and her 4-year-old twins to go away because they feared one child’s crying would bring the wrath of the Modocs.  As the mother and children made their way up a hillside, they could see the dust and hear the rumbling of Modocs galloping on horses to the attack.

The mother hid her children under a tree root, ordered them to remain still and silent, and then crossed the Klamath River to warn her people.

Huddled together and listening in fear to the screams of people being killed, the twins waited two days before their mother came back to fetch them.

The brave woman’s granddaughter, Lydia Ramus Scott, heard the story many years later from her mother, one of the twins who survived the Modoc attack by hiding like fawns in the woods. 

Scott learned that mother should be obeyed, especially when it’s a matter of life or death.

Source: Barrett, Carol. Women’s Roots in Southern Oregon and Northern California. 1993, p. 6; The Siskiyou Pioneer in Folklore, Fact and Fiction, Eight ed., vol. Three, Yreka, Siskiyou County Historical Society, 1965, p. 38

Lisa Gioia is the director of the Siskiyou County Museum in Yreka, California. She is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a B.A. in anthropology (1997), a Master’s Degree in History with a minor in public history (2008) and specialized in oral histories.