By Renee Rusler, Park Ranger
In March 1833 a letter appeared in the Christian Advocate. This letter indicated that Indians in the Pacific Northwest desired the Christian religion. When missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman arrived in the area three years later, they were welcomed with open arms. Even more than that, they were actually fought over. Narcissa wrote:
In the end, the Spaldings settled with the Nez Perce. The Whitmans settled with the Cayuse.
By 1840 the Whitmans were feeling good about the progress being made. On March 27, 1840, Dr. Whitman wrote about the Cayuse’s adoption of agriculture:
But not every Cayuse was equally happy about the changes that were occurring. Marcus described one tense encounter that occurred in the fall of 1841:
Whitman did not totally blame Tiloukaikt for the conflict:
With a lot of effort the Whitmans and staff of the Hudson’s Bay Company were able to calm the situation. In a letter that fall Marcus described one of the meetings he had with the Cayuse:
Meanwhile other troubles were brewing. Some of the missionaries had sent letters of complaint to the board that sponsored them. Now, the missionaries were concerned that the board might close the missions down.
This is part 23 of "A Missionary Saga." More from Season 2
Next: The Dreaded Letter
Drury, Clifford M. Chapter 9 (pdf 2.2 mb) and Chapter 16 (709 kb) of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and the Opening of Old Oregon. 1994. Northwest Interpretive Association: Seattle, Washington.
Whitman, Marcus. March 27, 1840. Letter to Rev. Greene, Corresponding Secretary, of the American Board. Whitman Mission Collection.
Whitman, Marcus. September 30, 1841. Letter to Mr. Archibald McKinlay, Chief Trader at Fort Walla Walla. Whitman Mission Collection.
Whitman, Marcus. November 11, 1841. Letter to Rev. Greene, Corresponding Secretary, of the American Board. Whitman Mission Collection.
Did You Know?
Great Basin Wild Rye Grass is part of the natural landscape at Whitman Mission. The name Waiilatpu, meaning place of rye grass, was used by the people to name the mission site.