The Klamath Tribes lost a link to its past recently. Tribal elder Albert “Bert” Lawvor passed away June 1, 2012
I met Bert last year while working on The Modoc War documentary for Oregon Experience. His grandfather fought in the Modoc War of 1872-73 and went on to become the last historical chief of the Modoc’s in Oklahoma, known as “Chief Yellowhammer”.
When I visited with Bert in his Klamath Falls apartment, he invited me to look through a box of historic photos and shared memories about his grandfather. Stories like how his grandfather trained as a boy-warrior by running up a local mountain every day. And later in life, decided on the spur of the moment to run a marathon – and won. Stories about traveling across the country by cold train boxcar after watching his chief hung at Fort Klamath. Of arriving at the Oklahoma reservation so far from his homeland in Oregon. And of his marriage to a white missionary, Alice, who in her own way was just as courageous as her husband.
Since I’ve met him I wanted to go back and ask about Alice who was instrumental in the Modoc’s return to Oregon in 1909. About her fight to keep her children when the state tried to take them away when her husband died. About so many things.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance. But I’m grateful that I was able too hear some of the stories, to see the photos from his family and his life, and get a brief visit with such delightful man.