To Rev. Greene: November 11, 1841

Waiilatpu Oregon Territory.

Nov 11th 1841

Rev David Greene
Sect of the A.B.C.F.M.

Dear Sir

I wrote you a few days since in which I promised to write again more fully to be sent across the Mountains by St Peters.

I went in July to attend Mrs Eells in her confinement Mrs W. accompanying me. + were absent from the station six weeks; during which time the wheat was harvested by Mr Gray's superintendence.

In the mean time he had begun to build a house for himself of adobies. It is now roofed + the walls are being hewed + plastered, + in a short time it will be fit to dwell in.

Some of the lumber has been sawed by two white men lately from California. He has two others in his employ who came this year from Missouri.

Mr Eells hired a man by the name of Packet (formerly at school at the Harmony station) who could not go at this time on account of the health of his family but remains with us for the winter.

Our Hawaiian woman whose husband died about a year ago has gone to be in readiness to go home with Mr Smith + wife. The boy whom we brought up, but who is now under engagement has gone with Mr Eells to assist at that station. so that Mrs W + myself are alone with two small girls (half breeds) the one of three + the other six years of age. the first of which we have adopted as our own.

In order to assist Mr Gray to get along with his house I have taken the ordinary care of the station + harvested the corn + potatoes + sowed the wheat. Messrs Eells + Walker have got their supplies of flour + meal from us since June last. Mr Spalding also has taken some twice, as his mill is not yet in order to run.

The mill is a most valuable acquisition to this Station. Its simple construction, its safe + durable water power makes it a great labour saving machine.

The Indians at this Station had been very quiet for the last year + a half, but from various causes which have been operating upon them they were prepared for agitation thinking that the best way to obtain property.

I-atin an Indian who had been to the settlement at the Wallamette undertook to embarrass Mr Gray in his building operations - forbidding him to cut timber without pay + at the same time there was much talk about making us pay for our fire wood. The reason he assigned for demanding pay for wood + timber was that some one at the Wallamette told him he would come up + build a trading house + for that reason he wished to save it.

I advised Mr Gray to pay no attention to what he said. At the same time he said he was told at the Wallamette that when a man came on to the white mens land + they wanted him to go off if he would not go, he was kicked off.

The plantation of this station has been in common with the Indians, upon a point of land between two streams; as soon as our wheat was off the Indians put their horses in to the great injury of our corn + potatoes as well as to that of some of the Indians.

While Mr Hale was here, one of the gentlemen of the Ex Squadron, Tilkauaiks another Indian was most insolent because when some horses were eating up our corn I sent some Indians to catch them. He said I was likely to get the Indians whiped for if I sent them to catch his horses he should beat them. At the same time he told me that he put them there because it was a shut up place + convenient to keep them from straying + that if I had them put out he would take one of our horses + ride it to hunt for his, untill he tired it out + there leave it. I then told him that I thought our field was for a plantation, + not for a horse pen but if he thought good to eat up our crops, I had no more to say about it. He replyed that this was his land, that he grew up here + that the horses were only eating up the growth of the soil; + demanded of me what I had ever paid him for the land. I answered him - nothing - + that I never would give him anything - He then made use of the word "Shame" - which is used in Chinook the same as in English + also its parrellel in Nes Perces. I then told him to wait while I spoke - I spoke to him of the original arrangement for us to locate here + that we did not come of our-selves but by invitation from the Indians, + that the land was fully granted us - Here I left him - But in a short time one of the chiefs came to me + asked why I allowed those troublesome horses to eat up the corn? I related to him what had just passed + said I had no intention to remove them. While I was talking Tilkauaiks came along having overheard us + came up to me + exclaimed that it was troublesome for me to talk so much + struck me severely twice on my breast + commanded me to stop talking. I simply replyed that I had been in the habit of talking from my childhood + that I intended still to talk.

This Indian for the last twelve months has been practicing the ceremonies of the Papist.

Following this in order of time was another trial with Iatin the first named Indian.

His son had been employed to take care of our cattle + horses but having been very unfaithful - having left them for four weeks caused us to pay him off before his engagement had expired. I asked him how much I was to pay his son. He said - just what I thought was right I then gave him the value of what was agreed upon within five balls + powder. But I did not please him, + only caused him to raise a bitter complaint that he could not obtain justice. I then told him I would exchange some of the articles, + give the full value of our first bargain in the things originally promised + then he would be in debt to me for the four weeks which his son neglected to take care of the cattle for the unexpired time yet to be fulfilled in his bargain. I told him also that when on the morning of the same day I was grinding his wheat for him I little thought he would so soon treat me thus. At this he was much displeased - + said to one of my family + also in camp that he would burn our mill.

Mr Gray is living in our old house one part of which is in use as a work shop + a kitchen. It is much used also as a place to store many small articles + tools so that no Indian was allowed to go in there. One morning an Indian named Pitamianinmaksmaks went in + seated himself along with a hired man, Hawaiian + an Indian who was there by order to cook for labouring Indians. The woman made complaint to Mr G - + he desired the Indian to come out. He at once asked if he thought he would steal. Mr G told him many things had been stolen - + if he allowed one to come in he must another - that even if some would not steal if they were admitted others would follow them + on that account he wanted no one to come there. Upon this he became insolent + Mr G put him out of the room. He then went into our horse pen + threw his rope upon one of Mr G's horses. Mr G followed him + cut off his rope + put him out of the pen. In the afternoon of the same day he came where I was at work + took the same horse before my eyes. He was on a horse with another Indian + others had gathered around. I asked him if he made himself a thief how [?] would cleanse himself. His brother Sakiaph said it would be good to kill our cattle - I told him he had now shown his heart + that if he thought so he could kill them. I then went to apprise Mr G who was at work upon his house. We soon saw Tilaukaik the relative of Pitamianinmuksmuks with his young men coming towards the house I requested Mr G not to answer him but to let me do it. He came up to us on the building + began to address Mr G who took no notice of what he said. He failed to create any excitement but ordered Mr G to stop building + remove the next day. I told him it was the Sabbath + he could not go. It seemed strange to him to speak of reverence for the Sabbath at such a time. I then went down from the building + he soon followed me + complained of my taking the part of Mr G. He said if he were to go to our country he should be very careful how he conducted lest he should be sent off. I told him that if Indians came into Mr G's or my house + refused to do as we desired it was right for us to put them out. He then took hold of my ear + pulled it + struck me on the breast ordering me to hear as much as to say we must let them do as they pleased about our houses. When he let go I turned the other to him + he pulled that + in this way I let him pull first one + then the other untill he gave over + took off my hat + threw it into the mud. I called on the Indians who were at work for Mr G to give it to me + I put it on my head, when he took it off again + threw it to the same place - Again the Indians gave it to me + I put it on + again with more violence he took it off + threw it into the mud + water of which it diped largely. Once more the Indians gave it back to me + I put it on, all mud as it was + said to him perhaps he was playing - In the meantime he said Mr G was lavoring in vain for he must leave I only told him it was natural for us to labour + we should not desist although we might labour in vain. At this, all went home + we thought but little of it - On the Sabbath all came to worship as usual.

A day or two after this a brother of Tilaukaik's named Mc Kay made a violent speech + forbid all the Indians from helping us - Still we felt no concern + intended to take no notice of these things nor to mention them - But the Superentendant of Fort Walla Walla Mr McKinlay sent up his Interperter to inquire about the affair as he had heard exciting stories from the Indians. I wrote him some of the preceding facts. but told him we were quite unalarmed. at the same time I mentioned that I feared Joe Gray (a half breed Iroquois + for a long time a Servent of the H. B. Co) but who was in the camp of the Waiilatpu + Walla Walla Indians from april untill Sept) contributed to cause this excitement - for I was told by an Indian after the affair that he had told Tilaukaiks while at his camp + fishery that we were rendering the Indians miserable + that we ought to pay for the lands.

Joe Gray is a Romanist + held worship in the forms of that church among the Indians.

Mr McKinlay espoused our cause warmly + sent word to the Indians that he felt the insult offered to us as offered to him + that those who conducted so much like dogs would not be permitted to see him with complacency - The Interperter added much to this according to the Indian's Story. He told them that when Governor Simson heard of the Death of Chief Factor Black (who was shot dead by an Indian in his own fort on Thomson River last Winter) he felt that it was not to get his people killed that he sent + had forts built + brought the Indians goods + that he at once resolved to come himself + had gone past + was now in the lower country. He pointed to the fact of the Company's bringing a large number of men in the country. (A large party of settlers as half servants to the company were at that time at Fort W. W. on their way from Red River to settle on the Cowlitz.) And that the Company had during the last summer removed a large part of the cattle from this Upper Country; as evidence of a state of readiness to avenge C. F. Blacks death + that the Company were prepared + determined to avenge any other like outrage of the kind whether it occured in one or two or more years whether it might be here or among any other Indians.

The Indians did not know how to take this for they felt that they had comitted themselves + had been compared to dogs -

After a meeting among themselves they came to have a talk with us. They came in by the kitchen door - a way by which they are not allowed to enter) went into the dining room + sat down Mrs Whitman came + called me as I was not at the time in the house. Mr G + myself came in We invited such as were still in the kitchen into the dining room + let in all who presented themselves at their accostomed door While we were talking Pelaistiwat an old Indian was threatning Mrs W with a hammer through the window in order to force open the kitchen door + at the same time Sakiaph who was in the house was trying to open another door in order to throw the house open. I told him to stop + I called on the chiefs to stop him but called in vain I then went + took the key from the door. He then went directly into the kitchen + removed the fastning + opened the door but I followed him + as he opened the door to let others in - I put him out + fastened the door then went back + sat down. Having taken the hammer from Palaistewat he beat the door + the other took a large American ax by which means they broke the kitchen door open + a hord of lawless savages entered + took possession of the house. Sakiaph came into the dining room with the hammer + Pelaistewat with the ax to attack us. Mr G met the former + myself the latter + disarmed them. After I had got hold of the ax I did not exert myself to take it away - untill I had waited to see if the chiefs would speak to restore order - but waited in vain. After I took away the ax he held to my collar + struck me with his fist on the mouth + tore my clothes Mrs W took the ax from me + Mr G put both ax + hammer up stairs. + we then sat down again. Sakiaph soon returned with a club + advanced upon me As I arose to take hold of the club I avoided the blow he was leveling at my head. For that I was much ridiculed by the Indians as fearing death. While I was telling them I did not fear to die if I did not partake of the sin of causing my death Sakiaph came in again with a gun + presented it to me + asked me if I did not fear death Two hired men were in the house by this time + one went + stood so as to command to gun. They persisted in saying because I said I was not afraid to die that I chalanged them to kill me; but I told them - no - I did not challange them nor did I want to suffer pain but still I did not fear to die as I had just said. At the same time I showed them the consequence of killing us + sending us in advance of themselves into the presence of God.

They now wished us to say that we would not shut any of our doors against them + said if we would not we should live in peace We told them as long as we lived + occupyed our houses - we should order our doors + if they wished to live in peace they must not oppose the regalations we make. Tilaukaik now exclaimed that it was impossibly to bully us into a freight. Waptashtakmahl another Indian who had pretended to be very friendly during all the difficulty said, that there was property in the house + that they were accostomed when they had a difficulty to have it given them. I told them they would not get the value of a single awl or pin for their bad conduct + if they wanted property in that way they must steal it. He thought that very hard language. I then told them that I felt that this was not an excitement of the moment - but that it was the result of what Joe Gray told them while on the Grand Round River. At first they were disposed to call me to an account for my authority - But Waptashtakmahl arose + said it was true that Joe Gray told them - That formerly the whites came on to the Iroquois land + they killed two + drove them off. Afterwards they killed two more + then when they wanted to buy their lands they loved them + said they wanted them for their children; but at last they bought them + gave a great sum of money after that all lived together as brothers. + that he charged them not to tell of it lest he should be blamed -

They now broke up + went away saying they would go + see if Mr McKinlay dared to call them dogs. We thought it best to apprise him of their intention + sent accordingly to the Fort in the night. The next day was the Sabbath + it was a sad day to us. Many stayed away from worship + some went to the fort carrying their arms + others were insolent + wreckless of evil. They did many violent acts such as troubling our animals + breaking our windows. We now felt that we had showed the example of non resistance as long as it was called for + as we went to bed we put ourselves in a state of defence should any thing occur at the Fort + the Indians return upon us. We also resolved to go to the Fort with our families + stay for a time untill we could arrange either to go away or return as might seem best.

On monday I received a letter from Mr McKinlay a copy of which I will give you - dated - Fort Walla Walla Oct 4th 1841.

My Dear Sir

I have the pleasure to inform you that there is every prospect of your being allowed to keep peaceful possession of your place + that you will not be further molested by the Indians. Rogers would have told you how matters stood when he left. All however was quiet during the night - After breakfast this morning I sent for the Indians + when they came in to the hall I told them I wished to know their hearts + at the same time tell the state of my own; for although I sent for horses the other day, I would not trade one till such time as I knew whether we were to have war or not. That for my own part I did not care which. I dared them to take my fort from me for that I had a sufficient number of men to protect myself but that I could not protect you. but if they persisted in doing you harm that I would instantly send to Chief Factor McLoughlin who would send up a sufficient number to revenge the whole and that the plunder of their horses would be considered sufficient payment for the trouble. That I knew they might kill you before assistance came but that it afforded me great satisfaction they could not send you to hell. That it is the first time I had heard of Indians in any part of the country treating missionaries so and that I never heard in any country of missionaries being obliged to pay for the land they occupy I concluded by saying that if they were willing to acknowledge their faults + promise better conduct in future I was sure you would forgive the past and that if you did I would do so also. That spilling of blood was far from my wish but that it was time we understood each other hearts.

Feather Cap, (Waptashtakmahl) McKay + Tilaukaik all spoke one after the other. It is unnecessary for me to tell you all that they said at present. Let it suffice therefore till we meet that what one and all of them said expressed deep contrition for what had passed and made many promises that they would conduct themselves well in future. In fact they spoke most reasonable and acknowledged that they were altogether in the wrong. I then told them that I was very willing to blot out of my memory their dogly conduct - and that I was sure you would do so likewise so I think you will find it to the advantage of all concerned to forget + forgive the past. But pray put your face against paying them for their bad conduct. In hopes that you will agree with me in my plans I remain your sincere well wisher

Arch McKinlay

On Tuesday Oct 5th we called the Indians together to hold a talk with them - the result of which was to gain a full acknowledgement of the first understanding we had with them before the establishment of the mission. This talk was fully interperted to them by the Interperter at Walla Walla + I do not know that it could have been more complete in all the relations required for the station. We told them plainly that unless they were ready to protect us - + enforce good order we would leave them, that we did not come to fight but to teach them. The former agitators were very full in their expressions of sorrow for their past conduct - but Waptashtakmahl who asked for goods + had pretended to be friendly in this case also showed his duplicity + how loth he was to relinquish the hope of getting property as he has also at other times since. A brother of his called Ishishkaiskais not at the time at the station. but who soon after arrived made a feast at which as usual on such ocasions subjects of interest were discused. He then proposed to require of us that we must distribute cattle among them or else they would require us to leave. - Waptashtakmahl consented to the same. But Tilaukaik who had been the principal agitator before intreated them not to do it - assuring them they would not extort cattle by fear + desiring them not to follow in his bad track for which he had justly been censured by the Superentendant at Walla Walla. + incured the name of a dog. It is said this brought tears into the eyes of Ishishkaiskais + a promise that he would not name the thing again. Kamashpalu who also had arrived since the disturbance said he advised all to be still + say no more about causing themselves to be paid for the land wood water +c. He did not think we expected such things when we located on these vacant lands. We cannot but hope that this will open their eyes + cause them to feel that they have nothing to hope for from violence or any effort to freighten us, but that all it can possibly do will be to drive us away + cause us to remove every thing we possibly could.

From the commencement of this station to the present time it has constantly been a point with some one or more to be urging for property to be given them to keep them in subjection to order. First it was in the person of Iumtipi now dead, + now in his brothers Waptashtakmahl + Ishishkaiskais. I do not think we shall again be molested on these points very soon.

They now feel that it is by a very slight hold by which we are kept among them. We made them feel that not a thing we possessed was our own + that we lost nothing by leaving but on the other hand we were likely to feel it a privalege to work for our own support + emolument. That if we left them it was only necessary to return to the Board what we held in trust + then labour for ourselves. It is difficult for them to feel but that we are rich + getting rich by the houses we dwell in - the clothes we ware + hang out to dry after washing from week to week - + the grain we consume in our families.

The Jesuit Mission from St Louis under the care of Father Smidt late, as I am informed Missionary to the Otoes near Council Bluffs; has been established + houses are building; but I cannot give you the location. It yet remains to learn its effects.

If you see Mr Hale or Mr Drayton of the U. S. Exploring Squadron (+ perhaps others may tell you the same) They can describe to you the picture of a tree hanging in Chief Factor McLoughlin's room at Vancouver which represents all protestants as the withered ends of the several branches of Papacy falling off down into infernal society + flames as represented at the bottom. This gives a good idea of their manner of instruction to the Indians as drawn out in manuscript + given to them accompanied with oral instruction of a simillar character. The possession of one of these manuscripts by an Indian binds him not to hear any more the instructions of Protestants so far as my observation can prove.

It is a great evil to this mission that the late reenforcement promulgated their determination not to come on untill they heard from the Board - as shown in this country by the Scientific Corps of the Peacock. Our situation called only the more imperiously for them to come on; + in no way could excuse their not coming. We are in no way unprepared for a reenforcement as we have no secret burnings among us. Whatever causes of complaint we have with each other are open + need in no case involve a third person. Nothing could have been more important than for them to come on. But I think any reenforcement will be very much unfited for labouring in this field after passing the Islands + seeing the ease of their living + becoming impressed with the idea that the work there is so much more important than this, as held + maintained to them by that mission + the awakening influence of their representation of districts of many thousands yet vacant at the Islands - accompanied by discussions of whether it would be better for them to stop there where they may spend all their time in labouring for souls rather than to come here + labour for a few hundreds + be obliged to spend so much time in labour to procure their own support. The last objection could not be appropriate to Mr Paris if he had come + been associated with us at this station but it was raised by him as having been urged at the Islands.

You will know best what course to take in our case to which we shall most cheerfully submit

In the mean time believe me your obedient fellow labourer for the salvation of the Indians, white settlers + passers in Oregon.

Marcus Whitman.

P. S. It is a remarkable fact that while we were talking with the Indians on Tuesday Oct 5th the next day after the date of Mr McKinlays letter that the inteligence came that Walla Walla fort was burnt on the morn of that same day. I mentioned in my former letter that it was probably caused by sparks from the servants chimney.

I intended to have added in connection with the account of the station that we had killed our first beef only grass fed a steer of four years old last summer which gave us one hundred + forty eight pounds of tried tallow. A fine comment on our grasses. We feel no disposition to return to horse meat from choice although we have consumed about thirty at this station.

M. W.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

328 Whitman Mission Road
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Phone:

(509) 522-6360

Contact Us