Thomas Doty – Storyteller

Glass Mountain (1 of 20)


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Here are images of Glass Mountain in northeast California, part of the Medicine Lake Volcano. For 10,000 years this was the main source of obsidian for points and knives for the Modoc people. It was such high quality that it was traded throughout the West, and beyond. It is still mined for making surgical scalpels. An obsidian blade is sharp enough to cut between cells, speeding up healing after surgery. These photos were taken during several treks to Glass Mountain, from 2005 to 2018. The elevation of Glass Mountain is 7,795 feet.

When Bear left early the next morning, Hawk Chief said, "I ought to give you some obsidian as a present for your uncle, Turtle Old Man, but I haven't any left. But go by the village of the Flint people. They live right at the foot of Black Glass Mountain. That mountain is made entirely of black obsidian, and some of it is just right for knives and arrowheads. But the Flint people have the sole rights to it. You can get it only through them. They are a crusty people, quick to anger, but it's only the surface. They really are good people if you don't get offended at first. Here is some venison; give it to them as a present from me."

-- From Indian Tales by Jaime de Angulo