|Citation style: MLA (http://www.mla.org/)|
|Document 1 of 1|
|Subjects:||Massacres, American history, Evangelism, Native North Americans, Cultural change, Missionaries|
|People:||Whitman, Marcus (1802-47)|
|Companies:||Cayuse Tribe (NAICS: 813410 )|
|Document features:||Photographs, References|
|Publication title:||Journal of the Early Republic. Indianapolis: Summer 2005. Vol. 25, Iss. 2; pg. 221, 38 pgs|
|ProQuest document ID:||853546181|
|Text Word Count||13183|
|Abstract (Document Summary)|
Examining the Whitman Massacre which happened on Columbia Plateau, Addis shows how trade arrangements, threats of germ warfare, and religious syncretism in 1809 undercut religious professionals like the Whitman's after 1834, and how other problems inherent in the evangelists' objectives and personalities stymied efforts up to 1847. She also analyzes the massacre as a catalyst for US expansion and its importance to the region's mythology and memory through the early 20th century.
|Full Text (13183 words)|
|Copyright Society for Historians of the Early
American Republic Summer 2005
On November 29, 1847, eleven-year-old Mary Anne Bridger, mixed-blood daughter of mountain man Jim Bridger, crept from behind the stove, jumped through the kitchen window, and ran around the back of Whitman Mission to tell Narcissa Whitman that her husband Marcus had been attacked. The frightened young girl had just watched a Cayuse warrior drive his tomahawk deep into Marcus's skull, hoping to release the evil spirits he thought dwelled there. Pandemonium reigned at the compound, located along the Oregon Trail near the confluence of the Walla Walla and Columbia rivers. Other settlers were shot, had their hearts ripped out, or were bludgeoned and left "with brains oozing out." Mary Anne hid in the attic as her friends, Elizabeth and Catherine Sager, watched Narcissa tossed in the mud, shot, and hacked apart. As the matriarch of the mission and the girls' adopted mother, Narcissa was singled out for mutilation; other females (young and old) were raped or taken as wives or slaves, and one fleeing child drowned in the river. In all, fourteen died and fifty-three were taken hostage, including the Sagers and Mary Anne. The violence was no more extreme than that committed by Indians and Americans in Oregon during the ensuing decade, but the Whitman Massacre, as it came to be called, assumed symbolic importance because it happened at a Christian settlement just as the region opened up to Americans.1
This tragedy occurred in the dry interior enclosed by the Cascades and Rockies known as the Columbia Plateau, a remote and sparsely populated region that had been beyond the pre-1846 borders of the United States. By the time of the massacre, however, the plateau's southern portion was moving from "borderland to border." Since missionaries arrived just as the region moved from an inclusive frontier toward homogenous nationhood, and contemporary historians perceived them as instrumental in bringing American civilization to the region, a fresh look at the Whitman saga is a good opportunity for analyzing that transition.2
Native and European American historians of the Northwest agree that the Cayuses were defending their people, killing the Suyapa (American Protestants) because they held Marcus, a te-wat (doctor), responsible for spreading measles. The hungry and sick people were also goaded to fury by his stinginess in trade and, more importantly, the recent surge of settlers into Oregon.3 While fascinating in its own right, the dramatic story of the tragedy and its immediate causes has overshadowed three bigger issues: the trader era leading up to the missionaries' arrival, the dynamics of which set the stage for the Whitmans' downfall; the martyred couple's impact on expansionist politics during the era of Manifest Destiny; and a subsequent debate between Protestants and Catholics over the importance of the Whitmans to the region's history. The obstacles faced by missionaries when they arrived in 1834 were rooted in religious, economic, and medical relations between traders and Indians dating back at least to 1809. The first two sections of this essay show how trade arrangements, threats of germ warfare, and religious syncretism in this earlier period undercut religious professionals like the Whitmans after 1834, and how other problems inherent in the evangelists' objectives and personalities stymied efforts up to 1847. The third and fourth sections analyze the massacre as a catalyst for U.S. expansion and its importance to the region's mythology and memory through the early twentieth century.
The dynamics of Oregon's trader era should ring familiar to ethnohistorians of colonial America and other borderlands. Whites traded, fought, preached, and lived with Indians amidst a backdrop of imperial ambition and Christian factionalism, leaving behind a historical record obscured by the smoke and mirrors of propaganda, conspiracies, and chauvinism. In the southern plateau's "middle ground," Indians did not play off imperial powers. They outnumbered the English (who were more concerned with beaver furs than settling the region); Spain and Russia were not serious threats; and U.S. settlers did not arrive until the 184Os. Oregon was an attempt by the British to do what they had intermittently tried already east of the Mississippi from 1756 to 1815-a policy of accommodation and exchange that contrasted sharply with the later American intrusion of homesteading, governance, and reservations.
The Cayuses are one of a number of plateau groups whose histories are sketched together from a combination of oral traditions, anthropological fieldwork, ongoing archeology, and the journals of white explorers, traders, and missionaries. The Plateau Indians' modern transformation was set in motion during the eighteenth century, long before the arrival of American Christians. By 1800, horses, diseases, and western goods had changed the cultures of the Columbia River Basin, and, like Europeans elsewhere, early traders encountered Indians in transition. By broadening their hunting grounds, horses improved plateau tribes' subsistence levels and knowledge of other regions, but also increased their exposure to pathogens for which they had little resistance. Coastal trade with Europeans likewise diversified their economy but brought disease. Sporadic epidemics converged from the coast and plains, wiping out entire villages and bypassing others as populations built up resistance over time. By the end of the nineteenth century, epidemics reduced the region's Indian population by roughly three-quarters, from approximately 180,000 to 40,000.4
Diseases threatened the legitimacy of plateau shamans, whose task it was to "dream a cure." European epidemics did not wholly disrupt this system, but white medicine challenged shamans' methods just as their societies were overwhelmed by incurable sicknesses. Worse, epidemics often killed elders, the primary transmitters of oral traditions. White medicine was frequently ineffective, but Indians turned to it when their own treatments failed. The conflation of spiritual and medical care inherent in shamanry shaped how Indians viewed later Christians, since they presumably shared with shamans "the power of throwing their bad medicine at them, whether far or near, present or absent." As both a physician and missionary, the Cayuses held Marcus Whitman accountable for the deaths of his patients, especially since they suspected him of spiritual malpractice.5
Along with epidemics, western goods such as iron axes, kettles, and wool spread to the plateau from the Pacific Coast and plains. When Lewis and Clark's expedition reached the Columbia River in 1804, trade networks stretched north to Saskatchewan, east to the Missouri River, and west to Chinooks on the Pacific Coast. After "Nor'Wester" (North West Company trader) David Thompson built posts along the Columbia between 1809 and 1811, direct contact with whites drew Plateau Indians further into the world market and familiarized them with Christianity a generation before they encountered professional missionaries. Traders learned the intertribal system of sign languages and mutually understood trade terms known as "Chinook jargon." Though filtered through this informal language, their practical correspondences and retrospectives contain a wealth of information on native religions and their own proselytizing. While still skewed culturally, traders' writings often lack the overt agendas of later missionaries.6 Their accounts reveal that Northwest Indians could absorb others' beliefs without sacrificing or contradicting their own religions, and they illustrate how whites manipulated that nonexclusionary flexibility to their advantage.
After the War of 1812, the vehicles for that manipulation were the fur companies, especially the de facto governing body in Oregon from 1821 to 1846, the British Hudson's Bay Company (HBC).7 After the Treaty of Ghent, American John Jacob Astor maintained trading rights with Canada, but the British dominated west of the Rockies, often hiring métis French-Iroquois traders. The fur market on the southern plateau was inconsistent, but the HBC controlled the Columbia River as a link to transport pelts from the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific. The HBC bought some furs, but mainly traded for dried salmon, produce, and horses for their own trappers to use; they also exported lumber to Hawaii and flour to Alaska. Chief factor Dr. John McLoughlin administered the company's most profitable North American enterprise, the Fort Vancouver-based Columbia Department. With thick white shoulder-length hair and steely blue eyes, the powerfully built Quebecer was a trusted and respected intermediary between Euro-Americans and the Indians, who called him Chakchak, meaning White-Headed Eagle. McLoughlin's early monopoly on firearms allowed him to regulate their flow so as to maintain peace between the tribes, and he helped organize the trade by giving Indians cardboard calendars punched with holes to keep track of European time. In return, HBC forts lured those Indians who were interested in trade, curious about Christianity, or just hungry or sick. The most popular trade item was tobacco, and some traders claimed Indians coveted it more than food or clothing. No business or diplomatic exchange was complete without smoking rituals and a gift of Virginia tobacco.8
Indians were also intrigued by Christianity, and in 1823 the HBC mandated that everyone at the forts, white or Indian, should attend Sunday services. Living around the forts now entailed religious obligations, but Christian baptisms were offered only on the condition of learning agriculture. Encouraging agriculture seemed counterproductive to some traders, considering that their goal was to increase fur productivity, not crops, and many traders opposed the farms. But the belief that agriculture was key to conversion was common among Europeans, who believed in the moralizing influence of the sedentary lifestyle. The North American head of the HBC, George Simpson, initially had no interest in "civilizing" Indians, whom he saw as a lost cause, but he came around to the idea that farming would increase Indians' dependence on whites.9 Anticipating Protestant missionaries, the HBC paired Christianity with agriculture as twin pillars of cultural conversion.
Many Indians were interested in Christianity and farming, but it was an interest partly born of desperation. In an effort to combat white dis eases and obtain tobacco, Plateau Indians began integrating into the white economy and learning white religion. Just as learning Christianity required practicing agriculture, getting medical aid required learning Christianity. The HBC presented European civilization as a package deal of trade, religion, and medicine. The English policy of offering medicine with a Christian string attached was not based on their sincere belief that religious conversions led to cures; rather, the HBC doctors' capacity to vaccinate against smallpox allowed them to manipulate Indians.10
Traders exploited Northwest Indians' belief that the power to control medicine was potentially evil. At Fort Astoria trader Ross Cox observed Duncan McDougal, whom the Indians called "The Smallpox Chief," warning Indians that he had the disease in a bottle, and "if they did not behave, he would uncork it." Evidently this was a common ploy. In the 183Os a band of Nez Percés even begged a trader not to report an infraction to McLoughlin for fear that he would "send some plague among them." A Wishram, Martin Spidish, recalled the story of how white explorers threatened his people with smallpox after they stole a powderhorn mounted with silver and gold, and how they were then infected. Suffering from the disease, they took refuge at Fort Vancouver, where they learned "about Sunday and keeping track of the week."11 Threats of germ warfare, if not real instances, were thus introduced on the plateau thirty-five years prior to the Whitman Massacre, making it easier to understand how Marcus was suspected of inflicting measles on the Cayuse.
Plague threats notwithstanding, Plateau Indians' exposure to Christianity during the trader era had more benign aspects, including their interest in biblical stories and Catholic sainthood. Iroquois traders who had incorporated vestiges of Catholicism before migrating west contributed to the syncretic religion that arose on the plateau. Also, intermarried white traders who mastered Indian languages proselytized and told biblical stories. By the mid-1830s most of the 2,000 traders, farmers, and mechanics employed by the HBC had married Indian women. In addition, the HBC opened a school at Red River (in present-day Manitoba) whose curriculum included the Bible and catechisms from the Book of Common Prayer, and whose alumni spread Christianity across the area.12
Controversy over these intermarriages brought the first Catholic missionaries to the plateau. At first the HBC encouraged these marriages "after the custom of the country" (or à la façon du pays) as a way to gain leverage within plateau societies. That changed in the mid-183Os when, reacting to pressure from local Protestants, the company board in London mandated that they hire missionaries to discourage these unions. The board sent an Anglican couple to Oregon, fittingly named the Beavers, but they were fired in 1838 when their renunciations of intermarriage alienated the traders. The HBC switched to Jesuits to placate their mostly Catholic employees and because they viewed their interests as being threatened by Protestant American settlers.13 As a result, Anglican England (specifically a company pressured by Protestants) promoted Catholicism in this remote corner of its empire. The HBC lifted its exclusion of "Black Robes" south of the Columbia River after the Beavers' dismissal, and Fathers Modeste Demers (from Belgium) and François Norbert Blanche! arrived shortly thereafter. Father Jean Pierre De Smet came from St. Louis in 1840, and in 1843 Oregon became a vicarage apostolic with Blanche! as bishop.
By 1840 the southern plateau was trapped out and most of its people were not dependant on agriculture, but traders had spread Christianity for thirty years. When Catholic and Protestant missionaries arrived they met Indians already content with their blend of Christianity and native religions, skeptical toward farming, and wary of the whites' apparent power to inflict diseases. Local Indians also expected trade and gifts (especially tobacco) as part of any interaction with whites, religious or medical.
These preexisting factors and expectations complicated the Whitmans' efforts, but the presence of Catholics in the area also spurred them. Anti-Catholicism was rampant in the eastern United States during the 183Os, giving Protestants extra incentive for western expansion. In Plea for the West (1835), the Reverend Lyman Beecher portrayed the romantic West as a battleground in the competition between Protestantism and Catholicism. He appealed to evangelicals' sense of providential mission, warning that "the religious and political destiny" of the nation hinged on the region, and calling on Protestants to challenge Catholic churches and schools there. When Narcissa visited the cathedral in St. Louis on the way to Oregon she was disgusted by the "idolatry" of the mass and the priests' "embroyded [sic] robes ... of the richest material." The robes made her pause to consider "the many delicate fingers that had been employed . . . preparing vestments for such hypocritical characters." American settlement in the Northwest coincided with this "No-Popery" nativist upsurge and the latter Great Awakening, making Oregon an ideal focus for Manifest Destiny. Another writer pointed to Oregon as the key to the entire Pacific Rim, the critical steppingstone on the way to converting China, Japan, and South America.14
But while Protestants spearheaded expansion, they also intended to spare western Indians from extinction at the hands of godless Americans by reforming them so they could assimilate. They juxtaposed their identity not just with Indians, but also British, Catholics, and non-Christian American ruffians like the trappers and vagrant criminals who fled to Oregon. By the 183Os New England Calvinists were removed enough from the frontier to be nostalgic about the Noble Savage, and mission statements were sprinkled with "pleas for the aborigines."15
New England Protestants believed that Northwest Indians encouraged them to come west to propagate their faith. The crux of their belief was the story of Nez Percés and Flatheads (or Salish) who traveled from the Bitterroot Valley all the way to St. Louis in 1831 to issue a "Macedonian Cry" (appeal for Christian instruction). There they enlisted aid from none other than William Clark, then Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Supposedly, the Indians considered themselves a moral people and were distraught upon hearing from a pious trader that their mode of worship was wrong. The Indians lacked good interpreters, making it even harder to ascertain how apocryphal the stories were. Either way, Protestants and Catholics embellished the tale to suit their respective needs. For Catholics, the Indians requested Jesuit Black Robes to give Mass. Father De Smet answered the Macedonian Cry by going to Montana, where he hoped to start a "New Paraguay" modeled on the Jesuit's success in South America. A contrary Protestant interpretation spread through the Methodist presses of the East and into other denominational newsletters. The New York Christian Advocate even fabricated a lengthy oration depicting the Flatheads' request for the "White Man's Book of Heaven," including a letter and drawing by mixed-blood Wyandot William Walker. One subtext of the story was that the Indians' desire for Protestantism sanctioned the U.S. takeover of Oregon, which it then held jointly with England. Methodist Magazine published trader Ross Cox's memoirs in 1831 to bolster interest, and other Protestant presses exhorted their readers to rise to the challenge.16
There were several volunteers, and McLoughlin generously aided Protestant missionaries with lodging, food, supplies, and livestock after greeting them at Fort Vancouver. The first American preachers to the area were Methodist Episcopal Jason Lee and his nephew Daniel, who accompanied Nathaniel Wyeth's fur brigade in 1834. Lee was accustomed to reading about heathens from the comfort of his New England study, and frontier life took him off guard. War between Flatheads and Blackfeet frustrated him on the plateau, and he moved southwest into the Willamette Valley, where diseases had depopulated the area and fertile soil lured American farmers.17
The first Protestants to settle on the plateau were sponsored by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a joint Presbyterian, Congregational, and Dutch Reformed organization that sent devotees to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), India, Siam (Burma), the Middle East (Turkey and Palestine), and Africa. In 1820 they initiated missions among eastern Indians-the Osages, Cherokees, and Choctaws-but Indian removal and the corrupting influence of whiskey persuaded them to seek out more remote converts. The organization worked in tandem with Lee's Methodist Episcopal board. In a trip arranged by Samuel Parker, the ABCFM sent mechanic William Henry Gray, physician Marcus Whitman, and minister Henry Harmon Spalding to Oregon in 1836. Whitman and Spalding brought along their wives, Narcissa and Mary, who were the first American women on record to cross the Continental Divide.18 Gushing Eells, Elkanah Walker, and Asa Smith were rerouted from their Zulu mission and followed in 1838. Armed with pocket-sized Bibles and deep reserves of cultural and religious conviction, the industrious and committed pioneers set out to convert the Plateau Indians.
While Narcissa, who was pregnant, rested at Fort Vancouver, Marcus went back up the Columbia and built his mission at Waiilatpu ("Place of Rye Grass") among the Cayuses, Walla Wallas, and Umatillas. He chose a site near Fort Walla Walla, north of the Blue Mountains and near where the Jesuits built Saint Rose of the Cayuse and St. Anne of the Umatillas in 1838. Waiilatpu included a gristmill, sawmill, blacksmith shop, and school along with the church. The Cayuses had a reputation for strained relations with whites and war with other Indians. Spalding settled Lapwai ("Butterfly Valley") a hundred miles to the east among the more peaceful Nez Percés (Nimipu), near the Clearwater River, east of presentday Lewiston, Idaho.19 Eells, Walker, and Smith built Tshimakain among the Spokanes to the north.
Missionaries' accounts are even less reliable than those of traders because they wrote to audiences and superiors anxious to hear about successful conversions, and their orthodoxy made them unsympathetic to Indian culture. They wrote more than traders, however, and their letters reveal several obstacles to their teachings. Some of their main problems, including misunderstandings over farming and trade, stemmed from differences between their policies and those of the trading companies.
The Protestants shared the HBC's emphasis on farming. They too denned civilization in terms of agriculture, and thought settled life was a precursor to conversion, viewing their crops, fences, kitchens, mills, and candles as embodiments of Christian civilization. Unlike the HBC forts, though, which were designed to foster dependence, ABCFM missions tried to decrease Indians' reliance on whites. Given that Northwest Indians had survived for millennia by hunting and fishing before the arrival of whites, the missionaries' presumption may seem unfounded, but it also underscores how diseases and famine had eroded plateau life by the 183Os. Some Indians planted potatoes, corn, beans, and melons and, at first, Narcissa was optimistic: "They are becoming quite independent in cultivation and make all their ground look as clean and mellow as a garden . . . they have a great thirst for hogs, hens and cattle." Most popular were seasonal crops that required so little tending that they did not interfere with traditional hunting and fishing cycles. But the region was arid, and the lack of timber precluded fences to protect crops from livestock. When the Cayuses and Nez Percés resisted full-time farming, their relations with the Protestants suffered.20
Trade disputes exacerbated tensions, especially given the ABCFM's refusal to deal in tobacco or ammunition. Aiming for an untapped region, the missionaries unwittingly stepped into an area where the HBC had already established the terms of white-Indian relations; Plateau Indians expected the new missions to serve as trading posts, since religion and trade were connected in their earlier dealings with whites. To the Cayuses, the building of Waiilatpu (or Whitman Mission) on their land obligated the couple to distribute goods, especially given the opulence of its cabins and furniture. When Narcissa complained that they did not help build it, "they murmured still and said we must pay them for their land we lived on ... something of this kind is occurring almost all the time . . . such as complaining because we do not feed them more."21
The Cayuses accused Marcus of shortchanging them on promised goods, and overtrapping around the Columbia made their needs more urgent. The HBC virtually wiped out the region's beaver, maximizing short-term profit and creating a "fur desert" to discourage American rivals from expanding west of the Rockies. (The British were willing to give up the bottom half of Oregon in 1846 partly because it was trapped out.22) The Protestants did not need to trade because they got their supplies from the HBC or ABCFM, and Indians now had less to offer anyway. The Indians' agency was reduced to supplying missionaries with potential converts or resisting the newcomers' presence. Overhunting also caused intertribal conflict. Plateau parties now rode to the plains to hunt buffalo, and the competition for the horses required for those trips fueled tension. The Cayuses were embroiled in sporadic war with the Snakes throughout the 184Os.
Even without complications carried over from the trader era, the Protestants faced a host of other problems: a language barrier, their failed attempts to impose a strict religion and new political system, competition from Catholic missionaries, and their association with American settlers entering Oregon. Most vexing on a day-to-day basis was communication, complicated by the plateau's linguistic diversity. Marcus learned some Nez Percé but not Cayuse, while Narcissa lamented she could not "do much more than stammer" in Cayuse. Since the area had no written language, they translated the Bible phonetically with English characters.23 The missionaries filtered their discussions through métis, who better understood the Chinookan lingua franca, but that jargon was constructed for basic trade and communication. The tangled web of Calvinist doctrine could scarcely be explained with chalkboard drawings or simple sign languages.
To the extent that they could understand it, Indians resisted that doctrine's emphasis on moral depravity and eternal damnation, and its strictness and unyielding piety did not wear well among people accustomed to freely integrating religions. Monotheism and prayer were popular ideas, but Plateau Indians resisted bans on polygamy and notions of original sin or the Holy Trinity. Narcissa spent an evening reading the Book of Matthew to one interested listener and "every word seemed to sink deep into his heart." The man considered himself a Christian, but she "feared the contrary" because he maintained two wives. The main mode of persuasion was to horrify Indians with threats of hell, but the Calvinists failed to make them understand that even those who acted morally and went to services would still go to hell if they were not regenerated. Asa Smith complained that the Nez Percés adopted surface aspects of Christianity by attending worship, but none showed a "proper sense of guilt in view of sin." Elkanah Walker likewise bemoaned that the "Spokans seem to have no clear idea of the wickedness of the human heart." Marcus tried to convince the Cayuses that their natural state was "lost, ruined and condemned," but his message, too, fell on deaf ears.24
In Protestant eyes, the Indians' inability to grasp their inherent depravity was partly due to the absence of formal political systems in their society. Even the area's tribal names were mostly white concoctions based on village names applied to whoever lived nearby. To bring order out of this informality, the ABCFM worked in conjunction with a U.S. Agent of Indian Affairs, Dr. Elijah White, to graft a miniaturized republican government under the authority of Nez Percé leaders. Like Walker, White expressed admiration for the Indians' intelligence and virtue, but found political structuring as elusive as the missionaries found regenerations. The two problems were linked: Asa Smith concluded that the Nez Percés had "no form of government, & no law among them. Hence it seems impossible to make them understand the nature of divine law, its holiness & justice, the nature of its penalty, &c."25
The Protestants' motives were sincere and they were sympathetic to the Indians' plight, but they defined themselves and their mission in terms of the inferiority of those around them. Narcissa captured the urgency of her task in an 1840 letter when she wrote, "We feel that we cannot do our work too fast to save the Indian-the hunted, despised and unprotected Indian-from entire extinction . . . we have come to elevate them and not to suffer ourselves to sink down to their standard." The Whitmans' seriousness also made them difficult to approach, and many Cayuses resented Marcus's unwillingness to make idle conversadon and Narcissa's disgust with their lack of hygiene. One Methodist missionary wrote to Narcissa's sister that neither she nor her husband was cut out for missionary work. She was out of her element on the frontier, and the Cayuses "feared but did not love" the doctor.26 The ABCFM apostles found it hard to reconcile the Indian culture they idealized in New England with the Cayuses and harshness of frontier life. The pious Yankees' rigidity also manifested itself in their anti-Catholicism.
A big obstacle facing all missionaries was the coexistence of Catholics and Protestants, intensified in Oregon by the association of Protestantism with American expansion and Catholicism with the British-owned HBC. By the 184Os there were a dozen Jesuit missions on the plateau, including stations among the Flatheads, Coeur d'Alenes, Kutenais, Okanagons, and Kalispels (Pend d'Oreilles). The Jesuits' avowed policy was to disrupt the Protestants, and the ABCFM complained that their potential converts were coming under the "Papist" sway. The two branches of Christianity discredited each other's claims of biblical revelation, undermining the white claim to universal knowledge. A priest noticed that one Cayuse would grab his crucifix and make the motion of throwing it down whenever Marcus's name was mentioned. He may have been expressing his views toward Christianity, but to the priest his action represented ideas Marcus had been spreading about Catholicism. Father Blanchet drew mnemonic devices depicting the steps to heaven, with heretics like Luther and Calvin on an errant branch. Protestants quickly learned the power of drawings: their "ladders" inverted the Jesuit's by glorifying Martin Luther and depicting the Pope in hell as the Antichrist. Spalding relied almost entirely on ladders, and Elijah White sensed that Protestant-Catholic competition undermined his attempt to Europeanize the Nez Percés. Marcus, meanwhile, was concerned that Catholicism, with its emphasis on saints and relics, would hold greater appeal for Cayuses than Protestantism.27
Despite the Protestants' problems, some Indians remained loyal to them. As late as 1847, Marcus asked the Cayuse council if they wanted him to leave, offering to sell his mission to the Catholics, but the majority voted for him to stay. When Christian conversions did occur, though, they were often divisive within the tribes, especially since both Protestants and Catholics actively discredited shamariry. Only twenty-two Indians became official members of the First Presbyterian Church of Oregon.28 And because of Waiilatpu's location on the Oregon Trail, Indians rightfully associated it with the influx of American settlers.
The Cayuses and Nez Percés saw the Whitmans as abetting the expansion of their fellow Americans. Midwest farmers hurt by the panics of 1837 and 1841 hoped Oregon would afford them better opportunities, and settlers stopped at the mission to rest and replenish supplies before their final push into the Willamette Valley. In 1844 Marcus wrote that the Cayuses were growing "apprehensive about their destiny." The mission's population swelled that year when the couple adopted the seven Sager children orphaned along the trail, and at one point twelve families called it home, including Bridger's and trailguide Joe Meek's daughters. After the British ceded the southern half of Oregon in 1846, the number of settlers on the trail jumped from an average of around 1,000 or 2,000 annually to over 5,000 by 1847, doubling the Americans in the region.29
The Whitmans and Spaldings became as interested in preaching to white settlers as Indians, who increasingly regarded the missionaries as agents of conquest. In the 183Os one of the ABCFM's primary goals was to save western Indians, but Marcus came to view the native population's displacement as inevitable. He wrote to his in-laws, "Our greatest work is to aid the white settlement of this country." Though the Cayuses were making "rapid advance in religious knowledge and civilization," their stubbornness in not fully converting to Christianity or agriculture conveniently rationalized the takeover of their land: "Indeed, I am convinced that when a people refuse or neglect to fill the designs of Providence, they ought not to complain at the results . . . they have in no case obeyed the command to multiply and replenish the earth and cannot stand in the way of others doing so."30 That reasoning made missionaries ideal agents of conquest, since wholesale economic and religious conversions were impossible.
The Cayuses seemed increasingly dependent on the Protestant's welfare while, simultaneously, their hostility worsened. Narcissa wrote that they "keep us constantly upon the stretch after patience and forbearance. We feed them far more than any of our associates do their people, yet they will not be satisfied." The laws the Bureau of Indian Affairs introduced at Lapwai were unpopular. Spalding ordered a woman who left her abusive husband to be whipped, but the Nez Percés thought that the husband should have been whipped instead for beating his wife. The Spaldings theorized that unruly white settlers who hated missionaries were encouraging Indians to steal animals and supplies. Indians "felt the lash" at both missions when accused of misbehavior, and some Cayuses fought back by destroying the Whitmans' irrigation ditches. When Marcus "remonstrated, they threw mud upon him, plucked his beard, pulled his ears, threatened him with a gun, and offered to strike him a blow with the axe, which he avoided." They wondered aloud why he could only maintain one wife, and Narcissa lost patience with them after the accidental drowning of their young daughter, Alice. She even discouraged Cayuses from worshipping inside the house because "they are so filthy they make a great deal of cleaning wherever they go ... they make it so dirty and fill it so full of fleas that we could not live in it." Suffering from Alice's death, exhaustion, and her own intestinal ailment, Narcissa dreamt of a house big enough that she could cook alone and "find a closet to pray in."31
The Whitmans ignored McLoughlin's advice to relocate to the Willamette Valley in 1841 and see if the Cayuses called them back after a couple of years, and when the ABCFM considered moving the Whitmans to Tshimakain (north of Spokane and off the trail) in 1842, the resilient Marcus went east to block the move and lobby for support. On what later advocates called his "Winter Ride," he traveled south through snowy passes to hook up with a Santa Fe Trail caravan bound for St. Louis. In Boston the board chastised him for leaving his post but, with Samuel Barker's persuasion, retained funding for Waiilatpu. While he was gone Narcissa sent him what proved to be a prophetic letter: apologizing for her "womanish" fears, she wrote that she suspected the Cayuses might kill all of them, and temporarily took refuge at the Dalles Methodist mission.32 By the mid-184Os the Whitmans' initial optimism had waned, and they felt trapped.
Waiilatpu was also a vector for illnesses, conveying infectious diseases from the trail to the rest of the plateau. After the main trail shifted south in 1844, usually only sick settlers visited the Whitmans. Then, in 1847, a worldwide measles epidemic entered the plateau via a party of Walla Wallas and Cayuses returning from California, where they had failed in their attempt to buy cattle, and Americans killed their leader's son. The contagion wreaked havoc among the Cayuses and white children before settlers carried it down the Columbia and it spread across the Northwest and British Columbia into Alaska. By November around half of the remaining 350 Cayuses were dead, far greater than the rate of local whites who were stricken. Traditional sweathouse treatments, in which patients jumped back and forth between steamed air and cold rivers, aggravated the Cayuses' measles. The sweathouses were good for arthritis and other illnesses, but not measles or smallpox. Some of Marcus's treatments were counterproductive as well. He overestimated the curative powers of cayenne pepper, and Whitman, Walker, Gray, and De Smet all practiced bloodletting. Gray bled a Spokane chief to death in 1839.33
Plateau Indians did riot usually kill shamans merely for failing to cure patients, but they believed excessive amounts of spiritual power could inspire murderous intentions. Marcus was a doctor by trade, which strengthened the Cayuses' association between his spiritual and medical powers, and they suspected him of spreading measles. There was a precedent of perceived malfeasance because of Marcus's ill-fated attempt to poison wolves with arsenic-laced meat. When some Cayuses found and ate the raw meat, they accused him of poisoning them and burned down his mill. The 1847 outbreak confirmed the Cayuses' theory that Marcus went east in 1843 to get more poison. The "Prophet of Priest Rapids," a Wanapum named Smohalla, recounted this theory:
Dr. Whitman many years ago made a long journey to the east to get a bottle of poison for us. He was gone about a year, and after he came back strong and terrible diseases broke out among us. The Indians killed Dr. Whitman, but it was too late. He had uncorked his bottle and all the air was poisoned.
The memory of whites who threatened to uncork poisonous bottles during the trader era no doubt informed that interpretation in the 184Os. Métis traders "Old Jimmy" and Joe Lewis, who disliked Marcus, reinforced the rumor that he had poisoned the Cayuses. Though the Whitmans failed to persuade Indians on many matters, Marcus's success in convincing them of his powers now threatened their lives. The tragedy that followed showed how the Cayuses integrated western medicine and Christianity into their religion without overturning it.34
The mission's inhabitants came to the realization in the fall of 1847 that they were in danger. To Spalding's dismay, two days prior to the attack a Nez Percé asked him if the Whitmans were dead yet. Despite ample warnings, fleeing was hardly an option-not with seventy people, including many children, under the Whitmans' charge. And arming the mission may have meant a battle rather than a focused attack, endangering more of its inhabitants and violating their commitment to pacifism. They decided they would stick it out until spring and then move to the Willamette if things did not clear up. In her last correspondence Narcissa looked forward to her parents' visiting Oregon: "I see already in their movements, indications that they will ere long come this way, for father is becoming quite a traveler ... it will not be long before they will be climbing over the Rocky Mountains."35
The morning of November 29, Marcus eulogized and buried three Cayuse children and wondered why so few Indians were in attendance. That afternoon his principal assailants, Tiloukaikt (meaning "Act of Lightning") and Tomahas, came to him under the pretense of a medical visit, but once inside they took out guns and hatchets and began their rampage. In all, some sixty Indians (mainly Cayuses), angry about Marcus's purported plot to eradicate them, took part in the massacre. Many of the victims died gradually during the night before a Catholic missionary arrived the next day to give them a hasty burial. His graves were too shallow, though, exposing their bodies to wolves, vultures, and natural decay before they were reburied the following spring. The ABCFM closed its missions and the Jesuits abandoned the Flatheads in 1850, ushering in a new era of syncretic "Dreamer" religions led by Smohalla that rejected western culture but incorporated Catholic rituals.36
One month after the murders, new HBC chief factor Peter Skene Ogden negotiated the hostages' release and cooperated with the Provisional Governor of Oregon, George Abernathy, in pursuing the suspects. Contiguous tribes distanced themselves from the Cayuses, some proclaiming their alliance with the "Bostons," a common term for Americans that refers to East Coast traders and New England missionaries (British traders were often called "King Georges"). The Yakimas sent their condolences via the HBC and promised to help apprehend the suspects. According to later trial testimony, the killers acted without permission from their elders, and some Cayuses pleaded for peace or even joined the American troops who were still searching for the culprits a year later. When a militia recruited from veterans of the Mexican War formed in Oregon City to hunt down the perpetrators, more militant Cayuses retaliated by burning down Whitman Mission.37 The murders and the difficulty tracking down the culprits moved Oregon off the congressional backburner and gave settlers a rallying point for the war that would be necessary to wrest control of the region.
The United States obtained the southern half of Oregon in the 1846 Partition Treaty with Britain, but the Mexican War and the Wilmot controversy stalled its organization. In 1848 the massacre reinforced Northerners' arguments for organizing the territory quickly, martyring the Whitmans to the cause of Protestant expansion in a territory made hostile by scheming Indians, British, and Catholics. In the mid-184Os northern Democrats (and some Whigs) hoped that Oregon's settlement would counter the anticipated spread of slavery into Mexico. With the Mexican War underway, the Whitman Massacre was the cause célèbre that allowed Democrats to revive the expansionist sentiment expressed in their 1845 slogan, "54° 40' or Fight."38
In 1848, Oregon's provisional government sent Marshall Joe Meek east to spread word about the Whitmans and petition Congress for territorial status. Meek's daughter Helen had died in the attack. After stopping by Waiilatpu to reinter the victims and retrieve some of Narcissa's hair, Meek crossed the Rockies in winter just as Marcus had five years before. In Washington he shared the massacre story with his wife's cousin, President Polk, and Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, a longtime advocate of Oregon's settlement. In May 1848 Polk delivered the hair memorial to the House floor with a message that Northwest Indians had "raised the war-whoop and crimsoned their tomahawks in the blood of [American] citizens." Newspapers highlighted the melodrama and his speech struck a chord with Georgia moderate Howell Cobb, giving the territorial initiative southern support. The Oregon Bill passed the House but bogged down in the Senate because of the region's uncertain slavery status. John C. Calhoun opposed Stephen Douglas's attempt to extend the Missouri Compromise line and extend the 1787 Northwest Ordinance's ban on slavery to Oregon, while Benton and Sam Houston argued that slavery would not take root there anyway (Oregon's provisional government banned both slavery and blacks in 1844). Southerners tried to use Oregon as a lever to gain more control over California, while Benton argued that a territorial government would have saved the Whitmans and lamented the intrusion of slavery into every debate. Daniel Webster delivered an inspired antislavery speech and the bill passed after an all-night debate on August 13-14. After the House inserted a Free Soil clause Polk signed it on the basis that Oregon was north of the 36 30' line, and the United States extended its reach into the Pacific Northwest-the first U.S. government west of the Rockies.39 The news reached Oregon City on March 3, 1849, Folk's last day in office.
Waiilatpu was rebuilt as Fort Waters and a combined U.S. Army and territorial militia initiated a series of wars that culminated in the famous pursuit of Nez Percés m 1877. Oregon's new territorial governor, Mexican War hero Joseph Lane, urged capitulation and cooperation, reiterating the promise of the "Great White Father beyond the mountains . . . to protect you from injury and bad men." Lane promised "when you sell your lands your Great Father will not drive you away, but will wish you to remain near his white children and learn from them what is good and make you rich and happy." White-Indian relations remained tense across the region, though, because of the ongoing epidemic. Cayuses inadvertently spread measles by sending messengers to warn other tribes that the Walla Wallas brought it home from California, and settlers elsewhere feared similar reprisals to that experienced by the Whitmans.40
The Americans lacked money and men and feared that an all-out war would halt settlement. But in the small-scale Cayuse War of 1848-1850, they vengefully destroyed as much as they could of the tribe's horses, cattle, and food for two years before the Cayuses turned over eight young men. The Oregonians convicted five of the eight and gave them Christian names and baptisms before their executions. Marshal Meek symbolically cut their drop rope with a tomahawk in Oregon City in June 1850. Before the verdict, the defendants proclaimed their innocence and said that fellow tribesmen already had killed the murderers. They begged to be shot rather than hung on ropes "like dogs" and, in a final act of religious syncretism, likened their own deaths to the sacrifice of Jesus: "Did not your missionaries tell us Christ died to save his people? So die we to save our people." After McLoughlin testified for the defense, American legislators quickly stripped him of his land, including Oregon City (he died penniless in 1857).41
The plateau was almost devoid of American presence in 1847, but the Whitman murders and the discovery of gold along the Pend d'Oreille River eventually led to the cession of all Cayuse, Palouse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla lands by 1855. A loose intertribal coalition broke down and each grabbed what they could get: the Cayuses ended up on a small reservation east of Pendleton, Oregon, as part of the confederated Umatillas. Washington territory was carved out of Oregon in 1853 and its first governor, Isaac Stevens, tried to force all Plateau Indians onto reservations. The Yakimas and others resisted, and 1856 brought renewed violence that surpassed the Cayuse War in magnitude. The Yakima War merged with conflicts in Puget Sound and the Rogue River region of southern Oregon (where gold was also discovered), lasting until 1858. Northwest expansion would no doubt have occurred regardless of the murders or gold, but revenge contributed to the ferocity of the wars, with the Whitman Mission serving as the region's Alamo. Naming the Whitman murders a "massacre," which accentuated Indian barbarity, was an essential part of the Americans' moral posturing. The more emphasis Oregonians put on the massacre, the less obligated they were to respect the rights or cultures of Indians, and one focal point of fighting was broadly and loosely called "Whitman's Valley."
In the 1856-1858 war, whites and Indians attacked each other's women and children in a cycle of ruthless reprisals. The Weekly Oregonian claimed that Indians were trying to exterminate the white race, "who have been all the time defensive." Avenging Waiilatpu and a Shoshone attack on immigrants near Fort Boise in 1854, Oregon's militia dismembered the neutral Walla Wallas' leader, Peu-peu-mox-mox (Yellow Serpent), skinning him from head to toe and drinking toasts to their attack from glasses that contained his ears. Even after experiencing the brutality of the Civil War and Plains Wars, Philip Sheridan wrote that he was still unable to "efface from [his] memory ... the dastardly and revolting crimes" perpetuated by Oregonians he had witnessed as a young man. Elijah White, who had found the Nez Percés unequipped for his version of civilization, considered the whites that followed to be violent drunks: "Never were a people more illy prepared for self government," he wrote.42 The phrase "massacre" was undoubtedly an accurate description of the 1847 murders, but not applying it to ensuing events spared early Oregonians a similar reputation for savagery. And with no memorable battle or catchy sobriquet, Oregon's Indian wars were overshadowed by contemporaneous events in Kansas, Utah, and the coming of the Civil War.
Americans were also hostile toward the British HBC, which was suspected of fomenting murder at Waiilatpu despite Ogden's hostage retrieval and McLoughlin's hospitality. Fearing plunder at the hands of Americans, the company even retreated in 1845, relocating its headquarters from Fort Vancouver (across from Portland) to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island. But after 1847 the HBC feared that violence jeopardized their interests, and their resultant push to clear missionaries from the plateau fed Protestant suspicions that they had conspired with Indians to kill the Whitmans. Since it was a Catholic, Father J. B. A. Brouillet, who discovered and hastily buried the bodies, some Protestants considered his proximity to the scene an indictment. Spalding condemned "these priests wet with the blood of my murdered associates" since so many were near the scene in the company of the murderers, and the Cayuses harmed none. In an interview with historian Hubert Howe Bancroft in 1878, Joel Palmer, the Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs and Cayuse Indian War Peace Commissioner, offered a variation on the poison conspiracy, theorizing that the HBC had injected strychnine into Marcus's medicine after he had given it to Indians.43
Protestants found further cause for suspicion in the Catholic ladders that depicted Whitman and Spalding (rather than Luther) "leading down to hell, filled with horned devils and big fires." The pictures had captions stating that the Suyapa [Protestants] were poisoning the Indians as they descended into the fire. Spalding rejected the notion that the murderers were wayward youths unrepresentative of the Cayuses as a whole. One of the men Spalding and others accused of the killings, Tiloukaikt, was "on probation" for admission to the Protestant church and had recently given land to Catholics four miles from the Whitman Mission. On his wife Eliza's tombstone, Spalding etched, "She always felt that the Jesuit missionaries were the leading cause of the massacre." In one of his last letters, Marcus wrote, "I have been held forth to them [presumably by Catholics] as a sorcerer of great power."44
East of the Rockies, stories of Catholic subterfuge and the ABCFM's heroics in Oregon fed the reading appetites of Protestants and triumphalist historians. For Protestants the Whitmans "saved Oregon" by staking a claim and selling the idea to American politicians that the territory should be won from the British, Catholics, and Indians. Their argument hinged on the unsubstantiated claim that Marcus Whitman convinced secretary of State Webster and President Tyler of Oregon's worth during his 1843 trip, preventing it from being deemed a worthless fishery and traded to the British. Whitman did lead the 800-strong Burnett-NesmithApplegate wagon train out of Fort Hall (Idaho) in 1843, so his boosters could rightfully cite him as an important trailblazer, and he wrote the War Department in 1844 suggesting protection along the trail. Generous testimony for his role came from Edward Everett, U.S. Minister to the Court of St. James and negotiator of the 1846 treaty, who said "our country owes it to Dr. Whitman and his associate missionaries that all the territory west of the Rocky Mountains and South as far as the Columbia River is not owned by England."15
Everett corresponded frequently with Daniel Webster in the 184Os, adding credibility to his endorsement. But while Marcus visited Washington in 1843, and perhaps met with President Tyler, there is no evidence he directly influenced diplomacy prior to the 1846 treaty, and the flood of settlers into Oregon was underway by 1842. The timing was close enough to make the theory plausible, but Protestants, like the Cayuses, misinterpreted Whitman's 1843 journey. It was Meek's winter ride and the Whitman murders, along with the brewing sectional crisis, which hastened passage of the 1848 Oregon Act. (Of course, if Marcus had not gone east the mission may have closed and the crisis would have been averted, perhaps stalling settlement.) Catholic historians, in turn, countered with the obvious fact that the U.S. government and citizens already knew about the Willamette Valley well before 1843 and, either way, the issue was embroiled in the larger context of British-American diplomacy. At most, they argued, Whitman recommitted a wavering Tyler to Oregon, but he never influenced Polk, and Protestants such as Spalding probably planted any contrary evidence in the archives. They might have added, had they known, that the ABCFM was lobbying the government on Oregon's behalf as early as 1838.46
None of these counterarguments extinguished the Whitman legend in the minds of those with a stake in believing it. Propagated first by Spalding and Gushing Eells's son Myron in the mid-186Os, the myth crystallized in Congregational clergyman William Barrows's Oregon: The Struggle for Possession (1883), reaching its apex in Oliver Nixon's How Marcus Whitman Saved Oregon: A True Romance of Patriotic Heroism, Christian Devotion and Final Martyrdom (1895). Barrows failed to consult the ABCFM records despite residing in Boston, and Nixon's book took only one month to write. Nonetheless, both worked their way into Protestant-dominated public schools and, on the Fourth of July weekend, 1895, shortly after the publication of Nixon's book, over forty ministers in the Chicago area gave sermons about the Whitmans. Bancroft's History of Oregon (1886) dismissed the legend with a contemptuous footnote, but H. E. Scudder had already incorporated the Whitman myth into his widely used History of the United States . . . for Use in Schools and Academies (1884). Commenting on Scudder's adoption of the story (along with a painting of Whitman's Winter Ride), Eells perhaps revealed more than he intended when he wrote that "the truth learned by school children had been fostered by God and would be scattered so far and wide and deep that no combination of learned men or human reasoning could successfully oppose it." Likewise, children's author Hezekiah Butterworth prefaced his poem The Log School-House by the Columbia by conceding that "exact history has robbed this story of some its romance, but it is still one of the noblest wonder-tales of our own or any nation."47
On the fiftieth anniversary of the killings in 1897, Ladies Home Journal took Whitman hagiography to the adult mainstream in an article titled "When Dr. Whitman Added Three Stars to Our Flag." Author George Weed had met Marcus as an impressionable boy in 1843 when he came through Cincinnati and attended Lyman Beecher's church. Weed contrasted the barbarity of Indians and materialism of fur traders with Narcissa and Eliza who, as female Christians crossing the Rockies, represented the vanguard of American civilization. A large illustration by Alice Barber Stephens shows the Whitman party celebrating Independence Day at South Pass in 1836, with Marcus proudly holding the stars-and-stripes overhead and a Bible lying open on the blanket beneath the women. The American Fur Company team who accompany them "pass heedlessly" on m the background for, though "American" in name, they think only "of traps and pelts . . . but the five true Americans pause in their journey . . . patriotic words are spoken as the Bible arid the flag are taken from the wagon." As for Marcus's trip east in 1843, Weed dropped his ABCFM visit to Boston altogether and portrayed him in Washington overcoming Webster's refusal to "vote one cent from the public treasury to place the Pacific Coast one inch nearer than it is now." When Marcus passed through Fort Hall on his return to Waiilatpu in 1843, he emboldened "a hundred [otherwise timid] wagons" to follow the pioneer through the mountains onto the plateau. Weed concluded by advocating donations to Whitman College, an institution he envisioned as the rightful bookend to Bunker Hill.48 The college never attained such symbolic stature, but the mission was consecrated as a national shrine in 1936 at the centennial of its founding.
The controversy over the Whitmans' role in U.S. expansion illustrates how religious strife complicated early historical interpretations of the West. Claims and rebuttals of the "Whitman Myth" filled Northwest newspapers in the late nineteenth century. Frances Fuller Victor incorporated the legend into her River of the West (1870), but critics denounced her as a "champion of secularists and Jesuits" when she renounced that theory in the 188Os. Catholics wrote articles and newspaper editorials belittling their rivals' "historical hairsplitting." Passionate arguments ensued over the naming of Seattle and Portland public schools and libraries after Marcus Whitman.49
The public's glorification and debunking of the myth coincided with the rise of professional historiography. Scholars at the 1900 American Historical Association meeting in Detroit debated the "Whitman Controversy," an interpretive firestorm that reached the pages of the American Historical Review. Historian John Fiske accepted the Whitman Myth, but changed his position after further study. At the same time Stephen Penrose, president of Walla Walla's Whitman College, was playing up their namesake's role to raise funds nationally. In 1903 the "Whitman Saved Oregon" interpretation was struck from Oregon's public schools by a Catholic, Thomas McBride, judge of that state's supreme court. In 1905 the HBC published a pamphlet denying their involvement in the murders, bluntly titling it The Hudson's Bay Company's Archives Furnish No Support to the Whitman Saved Oregon Story. In 1907 historians at the Oregon Historical Society condemned their forefathers' seizure of McLoughlin's land in 1850 and christened the HBC's chief factor "Father of Oregon" (a title officially bestowed on him by the state's legislature at the centennial of his death in 1957). In 1923 Catholics lodged complaints against President Harding for lending credence to the Protestants' "heroic balderdash" at a ceremony in Meacham, Oregon, dedicating the Oregon Trail. According to Harding, President Tyler found Marcus's "manly appeal irresistible" and, swayed by Whitman's "long ride and frozen limbs," decided then and there to pursue Oregon.50
Harding's "balderdash" was a reminder that Old World religious scores remained unsettled in America well into the twentieth century. Protestants viewed the plateau's Catholic missionaries as conspiring with the British-owned HBC that governed Oregon from 1825 to 1846 and viewed themselves as the appropriate vehicle for American expansion. While sectionalism, racism, markets, and population growth are rightfully considered motivations for western expansion, the Whitmans' experience and contested legacy shows how evangelicalism, anti-Catholicism, and Anglophobia combined to shape the northern version of Manifest Destiny. These ideas provided ideological grounding for the region's transition from borderland to border.
The massacre itself underscored the weaknesses of the plateau and Christian religions. The Cayuse religion's overreliance on a supernatural framework to interpret all phenomena made it vulnerable when confronted with incurable diseases. In the wake of a measles epidemic that wiped out over half their people, the Cayuses transferred their tradition of killing suspicious shamans onto Dr. Whitman, who fit the role because of his dual status as a missionary and doctor. The missionaries' inflexibility and obsession with damnation alienated the Cayuses, feeding their suspicions just as their lands were being overrun. Though the Cayuses resisted the Calviniste' strict piety, the murders underscore their belief OT, rather than their repudiation oj\ the missionaries' religious powers.51 Consistent with their tradition, the Cayuses thought that Marcus Whitman was employing those powers toward evil ends.
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