Off and on during the seasons, the full moon is reflected off a white cross with the inscription in black, "Gen Canby U.S.A. was murdered here by the Modocs April 11, 1873." This cross is a reproduction. The original, now on exhibit in the Visitor Center, was raised in 1882 by Lieutenant John S. Parke in tribute to the man who had served his country honorably from 1839-1873. Canby had brought peaceful settlement to several conflicts that he had encountered earlier in his military career. During the Modoc War he was ordered by General Sherman to try for peace by negotiation.

Three other commissioners were to work with him. Eventually, the Modocs, in a desperate attempt to end the war, attacked them during a peace meeting. They believed, as was their custom, that if the soldiers' leaders were killed the soldiers would go away. In killing Canby, they lost the one man who might have solved their problems fairly and brought about a just peace settlement.

Canby was the only general officer killed during the Indian Wars. The clash of two cultures that couldn't understand each other led to his death. As you view the cross, day or night, try to understand the viewpoint of both. Maybe we can still learn something from our own history.

NPS.gov