Winema, aka: Toby Riddle, Woman Chief (1848-1932) - A
better known simply as Winema, she was born in the spring of 1848. She
received her name, Kaitchkona Winenta, meaning "The Strong Hearted
Woman," or less accurately, "The Little Woman Chief” because as a
child, she guided a canoe safely through the rapids of Link River. She
justified her title when, at the age of 15, she rallied the
warriors as they took to flight when surprised by a band of Achomawi.
After she grew up she became the wife of Frank Riddle, a miner from
Kentucky. When the
Modoc left the Klamath Reservation in 1872 to
return to Lost River, Frank served as interpreter to the various
commissions that worked with them.
After they had fled to the
lava-beds and had defeated a detachment of soldiers, the Government
decided to send a commission of men to arrange a peace agreement. Winema warned Commissioner Meacham of the murderous temper of
Modoc warrior Kintpuash, also known as Captain
Jack, and some of his followers. Convinced, Meacham warned his fellow
commissioners, General Edward Canby and Reverend E. Thomas that their
lives were in danger, but could not swerve them from their purpose.
Modoc shaman, Shonchin
John, threatened to kill her unless she confessed who had betrayed the
plot, she declared that she was not afraid to die, but Captain
Jack forbade Shonchin John to shoot a woman.
When General Canby refused to withdraw the troops from the lava beds,
Modoc Chief gave the signal and Canby and Thomas were killed. When Shonchin then turned his rifle upon Meacham, Winema, who was present
as interpreter, pleaded for his life, placing herself between the
assassins and the victim.
However, Meachham was shot anyway, but she
saved him from being scalped when she cried out that the soldiers were
coming, where upon the assassins fled. Though severely wounded, Meachham survived, thanks to Winema. When the soldiers finally came,
she advanced alone to meet them.
Afterwards, a crippled Meacham took Winema, her husband, Frank, and her son, Jeff, to the east to continue
his intercession on behalf of the
Indians, especially the
though they had almost killed him. In 1874, Meacham developed a
lecture-play entitled, "Winema,” that told eastern listeners of the