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The Modoc conceived the world to be a "disk floating on water" (Stern 459). According to Modoc mythology, the world was transformed by Gopher and peopled by Gmukamps (Mythic Old Man). Gmukamps was also thought to be responsible for earthquakes, which were probably frequent during episodes of volcanic activity. Spirits were an integral part of the Modoc's natural world; they inhabited animals and plants and could also be ANTHROPOMORPHIC in form. The Modoc afterworld, no·lisg·ni, was located past a mountain in the west (Stern 459).

Supernatural power was sought to improve luck in hunting, fishing, gaming and love. Those seeking power undertook a power quest at the places inhabited by sacred beings.

Both men and postmenopausal women could be shamans. As with other northwestern California cultures, the Modoc shamans were healing doctors and clairvoyants. They were paid a fee to facilitate cures, which they did by sucking illness-causing objects from the patient. Most Modoc illnesses were caused by "breaking taboos or being frightened by a spirit." If a shaman was suspected of causing an illness through sorcery, or if their patients died, they might be killed by the other villagers (Stern 459).

Modoc rock art can either be in the form of PETROGLYPHS or PICTOGRAPHS. While it is not known with any certainty, the purpose of meaning of rock art, many anthropologists and Native Americans believe there is some supernatural or sacred aspect to most rock art.

Link to Modoc video
MPEG videoclip of "Eyes in Stone: Rock Art in Modoc" by Christopher Dooks
Courtesy of Modoc National Forest


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