The Whitman Massacre was the murder of Marcus Whitman
and his wife Narcissa Whitman and eleven other Oregon missionaries on November
29th, 1847. They were killed by a group from the Cayuse Native American
clan who had belief Marcus Whitman and has team had poisoned the 200 Cayuse
Native Americans clan members under his medical care with measles. This event
sparked the Cayuse War that had taken place in modern-day northwestern Washington
state close to the town of Walla Walla.
Narcissa Prentiss was born in 1808 in Prattsburgh, New
York, into a devout Presbyterian family. She was raised very religiously as a
child and at the age of sixteen she pledged her life to missionary work not
only to help but also spread the message of god and the Presbyterian religious
belief system. After completing her own education both religiously and
schooling, she began working teaching primary elementary school in Prattsburgh,
New York. In 1834, still waiting for the chance to achieve her pledge she made
when she was sixteen, she decided to move with her family to Belmont, New York
for a change not only in seminary but more possible opportunity to find any
Marcus Whitman was born in 1802 at Rushville, New York
and studied under a local doctor most of his life and received his degree from
the medical college at Fairfield, New York, in 1832. Then moved to Canada and
practiced medicine for four years and then moved back to New York to become an
elder of the Presbyterian church. In 1835, he traveled to Oregon to make
military type observations of the region to locate any enemy’s and or any
possible mission sites.
Abruptly before Marcus’ trip to westward, Narcissa volunteered
any of her services to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,
she was assigned in a side group of the umbrella organization for protestant
missions to Native Americans. There was a catch, the board was not willing to
send an unmarried woman as a missionary to any mission. Subsequently Marcus
visited the Prentiss family for a weekend, the couple then and before having a
previous relationship had both agreed upon to be married, leaving the Board no
other option to turn them into missionaries and send them off onto their mission.
In 1863, the Whitman’s along with one other missionary
couple (Henry Harmon Spalding and his wife Elize) and prospective missionary
(William H. Gray). They traveled from St. Louis and hoped to reach Oregon as
their final destination. As the group kept traveling they moved with fur
trader’s majority of the trips and went farther west than any previous
expedition prior to them. Also, Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding became the
first women to cross the Rocky Mountains. On September 1st, 1836,
the group reached the river of Walla Walla and choose to help the closest
Native American there the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu in Walla Walla Valley.
The other missionary couple choose to keep traveling and moved onto what is
today Idaho, and founded and missioned to help the Nez Perce Native American
clan at Lapwai.
The couple worked on distributing farming and medical
advice and preaching to local Indians about the Christian Religion. The Whitman’s
soon grew angry at the Indians because of their growing reliance on their
efforts for supplies, but in the Indians, defense their traditions such as
build of Waiilatpu on their land, cabins and furniture, weren’t the best
constructed and their land was not used the best for growing crops as well
which makes the Whitman’s somewhat obligated to distribute goods because of the
Cayuse clan’s current standards and situation. Another issue that grew was that
earlier fur traders warned the Native People with infectious disease and when
measles began to spread and eradicate the near Cayuses Native Americans, the
Indians logically blamed Whitman. Also, normally Native Americans did not kill
shamans for being unable to cure patients, but they had reason to believe that
the large amounts of spiritual power Whitman possessed could inspire him to
have murderous intentions. As well as relationship with the Whitman’s had
already began to degrade because of the Cayuses’ decline to the American
expansion and traditions trying to be implemented upon them by the Whitman’s.
Additionally, the Whitman’s and others ability to not change and or compromise,
death of all fur traders, language and cultural barrier, and the missionaries’
belief that other rival protestants were conspiring against them didn’t help
their case to appear innocent in any way to the Natives.
On November 29th, 1847, several men had
secretly hid hatchets and guns then visited the Whitman’s under the claim to
needing medical checkup. More than sixty Cayuses and Umatilla Native clan
member attacked and killed the Whitman’s and eleven others and had taken
fifty-three other missionaries hostage. According to the eyewitness testimonies
these killings were seen as some of the most brutal and overboard assailant
killings in history, its stated that Marcus Whitman was beaten far above
recognition, and Narcissa Whitman was shot.
Starting the Cayuse war over
the two-year period it lasted, the guilty of killing the Whitman’s and others
surrendered them self’s over to the white colony in hopes keep the clan going
before they all were eradicated little by little as they were during the war.
The main five Cayuse clan members guilty of killing the Whitman’s and others
were taken in by the white colony’s military and convicted of murder and were
sentenced to death and were all hanged on June 3, 1850.
The Cayuse clan before
considering the Whitman’s and others possibly poisoned them and after the
murder of the Whitman’s and others and the Cayuse war, The Cayuse lost all
efforts and refused to make peace and began to raid isolated U.S settlements in
revolt. The US troops teamed with the militiamen to suppress the Cayuse. Even
after Cayuse clans surrender this did not end their conflict, because the
bloodshed did not stop until 1855 and the US were forced to take out and defeat
the Cayuse clan. With few Cayuse clan members left that separated into other
native American tribes they had all their Cayuse clan reservation and tribal
land confiscated and were all gathered together then placed on the reservation
with the Umatilla Indians.
much more is needed here. If, once you finish the paper, you realize you have
written too much -it is too long – then consider cutting some of the bio info
in the beginning about Marcus and Narcissa’s earlier lives. Don’t know that all ofthat is necessary.
Need in-text citations!