Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Born on a Modoc reservation, Winema “Toby” Riddle saved a canoe full of children from being dashed in strong rapids by steering it to safety, earning her name which translates into "woman chief." She spurned an arranged marriage to instead marry Frank Riddle, a white man, which did not endear her to her tribe. She was a cousin of Kintpuash (Captain Jack) who led the Modoc tribe in their guerrilla war against the US Army. Both Toby and Frank served as interpreters between the Modoc and the Americans during the war. In 1873, Toby warned General Edward Canby that the Modoc planned to kill him during the upcoming peace talks. Edward ignored the warning, not believing that the Modoc would attack with his soldiers around him. Kintpuash and his men attacked the Americans and killed Edward at the negotiations. Toby stopped the bloodshed and saved the life of Alfred B. Meacham, former US Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon, by telling the Modoc that soldiers were coming. Months later, Kintpuash surrendered and was tried and hanged. One hundred and fifty three Modocs were sent to prison in Oklahoma while the rest settled on the Klamath Reservation.
Inscription on her grave- In MEMORY OF WINEMA, MODOC HEROINE, INTERPRETER FOR PEACE COMMISION PENSIONED BY CONGRESS FOR COURAGEOUS AND LOYAL SERVICE, MODOC WAR 1872-1873 California Tarot - Shadows and Light www.californiatarot.net
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