[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Winema Riddle, Peace Maker | 06-11-2017
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
67°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
June 25
1859 - Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez escapes from prison while serving sentence for grand larceny in L.A. County; recaptured in August and sent to San Quentin [story]


Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jun 11, 2017

Toby “Winema” Riddle was born in 1846 on a Modoc Reservation near Klamath Lake. These were troubled times. The U.S. government was pressuring the Modoc and Klamath people to leave their land and move to a reservation near Klamath Lake. Whites seeking gold were demanding land to mine in northern California and southern Oregon.

Toby’s birth name was Kaichkona, but her childhood name was soon changed to Nannooktowa, which means “Strange Child,” reflecting the strange red hair she is said to have had. As a teen, she rescued several children whose canoe became caught in rapids. The children most certainly would have died without her intervention. After this, her name was changed to Winema, which means “Woman Chief.”

She was daring enough as a teen to ride with Indian raiders to steal horses from their enemies. No other women were known as being as brave as Winema. She even led her people to victory when they were attacked by a rival tribe.

Her next courageous act was to defy her father when he selected an Indian husband for her. She chose instead to marry a paleface named Frank Riddle, who had come to California from Kentucky to make his fortune in gold. Winema adopted the English name “Toby” after her marriage.

Frank and Toby were initially shunned by the tribe for this decision, until Frank gifted several horses to her father. Toby studied English and served as an interpreter between the U.S. Army and the Modoc and Klamath native communities.

During the 1872-73 Modoc War, aka the Lava Beds War, she warned several white commissioners that if they attended Modoc Peace Talks, they would be killed. They did not listen to her, and they were killed.

The chairman, Alfred Meacham, was saved by Toby from being killed and scalped. He had been wounded and was lying on the ground. A warrior leaned over him to scalp him, and brave Toby yelled that soldiers were coming. The warriors quickly retreated, and Toby tended to Meacham.

Following this heroic act by Toby, Meacham wrote a play about the tragedy of the Lava Beds War. The play starred Toby, who toured around the country for two years with Meacham, along with her husband Frank and their son Jeff. Meacham also wrote a book about Toby and dedicated it to her:

“This book is written with the avowed purpose of doing honor to the heroic Wi-ne-ma who at the peril of her life sought to save the ill-fated peace commission to the Modoc Indians in 1873. The woman to whom the writer is indebted, under God, for saving his life.”

The traveling play ended in New York. Thereafter, the Riddle family returned to Oregon to settle on the Klamath Reservation. Meacham petitioned Congress to award Toby a military pension for her service to the country as a peace maker, and for her translating services during the Modoc War. In 1891, her military pension was honored, and she received $25 monthly until her death in 1920 from influenza.

Toby is remembered for her courageous actions during her entire life: for rescuing her playmates in the raging river; for marrying a white man; for her language skills; for her role as an interpreter, mediator and peacemaker; as being the first woman honored by a congressional act during war; and the first to receive a military pension.

Toby Winema Riddle is considered one of the greatest Native American women of all time and takes her place in history alongside Sara Winnimucca and Sacajawea.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

3 Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you for the information on this amazing and heroic woman. She had true courage.

  2. jim says:

    How interesting. This article paints a picture of a strong woman who did her best to both survive, and to prevent the worst that could have happened to her and her immediate family. I an sure she did her best back then.

    And yet it leaves so very much out of the story. I suggest anyone interested in stories of Native American treatment in the last half of the 19th Century and into the 20th look beyond this nice story.

    Chief Joseph and his people the Nez Perce is a good start. Another source to seek out information on the treatment of Native Americans in our Democratic Republic is the book “Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann.

    Mostly, things don’t turn out so nice as they do for Winema. And they haven’t gotten better since then.

    Unless you really like going to Indian Casinos.

  3. Nadiya Littlewarrior says:

    Well done….thank you

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Sunday, Jun 25, 2017
The Antiquities Act does not give a president the authority to revoke a national monument from a previous administration, but a sitting president can change the boundaries of a national monument. Under congressional authority, Congress can also convert a national monument to a national park, which has been done on several occasions.
Thursday, Jun 22, 2017
Hooded orioles must be the most beautiful birds you can see in your backyard. They will be here until the third week of August, so catch a glimpse while you can.
Tuesday, Jun 20, 2017
Did you know the America’s Job Center of California at College of the Canyons is a FREE resource to help your business find the employees that it needs?
Monday, Jun 19, 2017
The Cadiz Project aims to provide a supplemental supply and storage opportunity in Southern California for local water agencies by conserving water presently lost to high-salinity and evaporation at dry lake playas that serve as the only outflow pf a 1.300-square-mile desert watershed.
Sunday, Jun 18, 2017
If you hope to live longer, you might consider a big move to Minnesota or Wisconsin, or you might choose an easier path to health by improving your odds where you live.
Friday, Jun 16, 2017
If you have Medicare as well as other insurance, always be sure to tell your doctor, hospital and pharmacy. This is important because it determines whether your medical bills are paid correctly and on time.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The Antiquities Act does not give a president the authority to revoke a national monument from a previous administration, but a sitting president can change the boundaries of a national monument. Under congressional authority, Congress can also convert a national monument to a national park, which has been done on several occasions.
The Scoop on National Monuments | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
1859 - Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez escapes from prison while serving sentence for grand larceny in L.A. County; recaptured in August and sent to San Quentin [story]
1980 - Saugus Train Station relocated to Heritage Junction [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the Santa Clarita Deputies’s Commercial burglary operation caught two suspects. Plus, the Saxtravaganza returns to Hart Hall. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, June 23, 2017
The California Wilderness Coalition applauds Rep. Judy Chu for introducing legislation to protect more than 31,000 acres of Wilderness and nearly 46 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains.
House Bill Would Protect Portions of Angeles National Forest
Los Angeles County’s cannabis regulation efforts have entered an important new phase with the convening of a diverse advisory group made up of health and policy experts, community leaders, cannabis industry representatives and other key stakeholders.
L.A. County Cannabis Advisory Team Begins Work in June
An al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula senior leader was killed in Yemen’s Shabwah governorate by a June 16 U.S. airstrike, U.S. Central Command said in a release.
Senior al-Qaida Leader Killed by U.S. Airstrike
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced that California will prohibit state-funded and state-sponsored travel to Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas based on discriminatory legislation enacted in each state.
California Prohibits State-Funded Travel to Four States
Circle of Hope is growing. In an effort to expand the scope of the nonprofit's aid to local cancer sufferers, the originally breast-cancer-only organization added additional cancers to its Client Advocacy Program over the past few years, including the most recent, malignant melanoma.
Circle of Hope Announces New Logo
Princess Cruises has announced that Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, will serve as Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors for Princess Cruises in China and officially name the new Majestic Princess during a ceremony and gala celebration.
Princess Cruises to Name Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors in China
The Moorpark Unified School District is very pleased to announce the employment of Ms. Anne Gibson as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services.
SCV Resident Named a Moorpark Assistant Superintendent
Burglary suppression operations helped Santa Clarita deputies nab a pair of alleged burglars breaking into a Valencia realty office Friday, officials said.
Two Suspects Arrested During Burglary Suppression Operations
According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive individuals in East San Gabriel Valley, San Gabriel Mountains and Santa Clarita Valley tomorrow, Saturday, June 23.
Air Quality Advisory Issued for SCV
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a heat alert as high temperatures have been forecast for the Santa Clarita Valley on Sunday, June 25, and Monday, June 26.
High Heat Alert for SCV Sunday and Monday
Nearly a dozen productions including commercials, features, TV shows and a student project are shooting in Santa Clarita next week.
Filming in SCV June 26-July 2: Commercials, Features, TV
As the Fourth of July approaches, the city of Santa Clarita, the SCV Sheriff’s Station and the County Fire Department want to send the clear message that the city has zero tolerance for fireworks.
Santa Clarita Has Zero Tolerance for All Fireworks
Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), along with Rep Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), introduced legislation, H.R. 3033, the Aeronautics Innovation Act of 2017, which would create funding and programmatic stability for NASA.
Knight Introduces Aeronautics Innovation Act of 2017
Organizers of the 5th annual SCV Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 7 are seeking additional sponsorships from Santa Clarita Valley companies and business owners.
Business Sponsorships Sought for SCV Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Here's a roundup of crimes now being investigated by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station detectives in Newhall, Zone 3:
Blotter: Newhall, Zone 6 – 06/12/17 to 06/18/17
Agenda for the Santa Clarita City Council's regular meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, June 27, starting at 5:30 p.m.
June 27: Santa Clarita City Council Regular Meeting
Agenda for the Santa Clarita City Council's Special Meeting, City Hall Chambers, Tuesday, June 27 at 5:30 p.m.
June 27: Santa Clarita City Council Special Meeting
Agenda for the Arts Commission Study Session June 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Century Room at City Hall.
June 26: Agenda for Arts Commission Study Session
The Lancaster JetHawks hit three home runs and took a 7-5 lead to the ninth, but the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes rallied for an 8-7 victory to open the season's second half on Thursday night at The Hangar.
JetHawks Drop Second Half Opener to Quakes Thursday
Stevenson Ranch: Zone 3, Public Safety Report for the week of 06/12/17 to 06/18/17.
Crime Blotter: Burglary, Vandalism in Stevenson Ranch
1946, 11:20pm: William S. Hart, 81, dies at L.A.'s California Lutheran Hospital, leaving his Newhall home and 80-acre estate to L.A. County [story]
June 30 is the deadline for Santa Clarita residents to submit entries to the city's quarterly photo contest.
June 30: Last Day to Enter City’s Summer Photo Contest
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a road rage incident is caught on camera. Plus, local deputies work on a crime suppression operation. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, June 22, 2017
Olympian Alysia Montaño, a graduate of Canyon High School and a seven-time national champion, is competing in the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships as she did in 2014 -- while pregnant.
Olympian Alysia Montaño Races Pregnant for a Second Time
A road rage incident on Highway 14 near Newhall Avenue Wednesday morning resulted in a two-car crash and a motorcyclist who remains at large, according to CHP officials.
CHP Seeks Motorcyclist in Road Rage Crash
While Mark Bradford and Sharon Lockhart represent the United States and Poland, respectively, in the prestigious Venice Bienniale (La Biennale di Venezia), two other CalArtians' work is also on view there.
CalArtians Danz and Rosero in 57th Biennale International Art Exhibition
CalArts has named Dimitri Chamblas, former artistic director of the Paris Opera’s creative digital platform 3rd Scene, as the new Dean of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance.
CalArts Names Dimitri Chamblas Dean of Lund School of Dance
Los Angeles County supervisors have scheduled a special meeting on Monday, June 26, to consider final approval of the county's $30 million-plus 2017-18 budget.
June 26: County Weighs Budget, Expecting State and Federal Cuts
Bond oversight legislation authored by California State Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley) has been given the thumbs-up by the Assembly Education Committee.
Wilk School Bond Oversight Bill Clears Assembly Policy Committee
Air quality will be unhealthy for all individuals in the Santa Clarita Valley and for sensitive individuals in the East San Gabriel Valley and San Gabriel Mountains tomorrow, June 23.
SCV Air Quality Bad on Friday
Castaic residents attending a Town Council meeting expressed their anger over a Taco Bell fast-food restaurant on The Old Road that already has a foundation.
Castaic Residents Angry About New Taco Bell on The Old Road
Responding to a spike in drug overdoses in the Santa Clarita Valley, Bob Sharits of The Way Out Recovery brought together a group of treatment providers to address mental health and addiction treatment during a meeting on Thursday.
Addiction Recovery Providers Meet at Way Out Recovery to Discuss SCV Overdoses