The Whitman Massacre was the murder of Marcus Whitmanand his wife Narcissa Whitman and eleven other Oregon missionaries on November29th, 1847. They were killed by a group from the Cayuse NativeAmerican clan who had belief Marcus Whitman and has team had poisoned the 200Cayuse Native Americans clan members under his medical care with measles. Thisevent sparked the Cayuse War that had taken place in modern-day southeastern/northwesternWashington state close to the town of Walla Walla.Narcissa Prentiss was born in 1808 in Prattsburgh, NewYork, into a devout Presbyterian family. She was raised very religiously as achild and at the age of sixteen she pledged her life to missionary work notonly to help but also spread the message of god and the Presbyterian religiousbelief system.
After completing her own education both religiously andschooling, she began working teaching primary elementary school in Prattsburgh,New York. In 1834, still waiting for the chance to achieve her pledge she madewhen she was sixteen, she decided to move with her family to Belmont, New Yorkfor a change not only in seminary but more possible opportunity to find anymissionary work.Marcus Whitman was born in 1802 at Rushville, New Yorkand studied under a local doctor most of his life and received his degree fromthe medical college at Fairfield, New York, in 1832. Then moved to Canada andpracticed medicine for four years and then moved back to New York to become anelder of the Presbyterian church. In 1835, he traveled to Oregon to makemilitary type observations of the region to locate any enemy’s and or anypossible mission sites.Abruptly before Marcus’ trip to westward, Narcissa volunteeredany of her services to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,she was assigned in a side group of the umbrella organization for protestantmissions to Native Americans.
There was a catch, the board was not willing tosend an unmarried woman as a missionary to any mission. Subsequently Marcusvisited the Prentiss family for a weekend, the couple then and before having aprevious relationship had both agreed upon to be married, leaving the Board noother option to turn them into missionaries and send them off onto theirmission.In 1863, the Whitman’s along with one other missionarycouple (Henry Harmon Spalding and his wife Elize) and prospective missionary(William H.
Gray). They traveled from St. Louis and hoped to reach Oregon astheir final destination. As the group kept traveling they moved with furtrader’s majority of the trips and went farther west than any previousexpedition prior to them. Also, Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding became thefirst women to cross the Rocky Mountains. On September 1st, 1836,the group reached the river of Walla Walla and choose to help the closestNative American there the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu in Walla Walla Valley.The other missionary couple choose to keep traveling and moved onto what istoday Idaho, and founded and missioned to help the Nez Perce Native Americanclan at Lapwai.
The couple worked on distributing farming and medicaladvice and perching to local Indians. The Whitman’s soon grew angry at theIndians because of their growing reliance on their efforts of completing theirmission especially for supplies, but in the Indians, defense their traditionssuch as build of Waiilatpu on their land, cabins and furniture, weren’t thebest constructed and their land was not used the best for growing crops as wellwhich makes the Whitman’s somewhat obligated to distribute goods because of theCayuse clan’s current standards and situation. Another issue that grew was thatearlier fur traders warned the Native People with infectious disease and whenmeasles began to spread and eradicate the near Cayuses Native Americans, theIndians logically blamed Whitman. Also, normally Native Americans did not killshamans for being unable to cure patients, but they had reason to believe thatthe large amounts of spiritual power Whitman possessed could inspire him tohave murderous intentions. As well as relationship with the Whitman’s hadalready began to degrade because of the Cayuses’ decline to the Americanexpansion 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 helptheir case to appear innocent in any way to the Natives.On November 29th, 1847, several men hadsecretly hid hatchets and guns then visited the Whitman’s under the claim toneeding medical checkup.
More than sixty Cayuses and Umatilla Native clan memberattacked and killed the Whitman’s and eleven others and had taken fifty-threeother missionaries hostage. According to the eyewitness testimonies thesekillings were seen as some of the most brutal and overboard assailant killingsin history, its stated that Marcus Whitman was beaten far above recognition,and Narcissa Whitman was shot.The Cayuse war over thetwo-year period it lasted, the guilty of killing the Whitman’s and otherssurrendered them self’s over to the white colony in hopes keep the clan goingbefore 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 otherswere taken in by the white colony’s military and convicted of murder and weresentenced to death and were all hanged on June 3, 1850. The Cayuse clan beforeconsidering the Whitman’s and others possibly poisoned them and after themurder of the Whitman’s and others and the Cayuse war, The Cayuse lost allefforts and refused to make peace and began to raid isolated U.S settlements inrevolt.
The US troops teamed with the militiamen to suppress the Cayuse. Evenafter Cayuse clans surrender this did not end their conflict, because thebloodshed did not stop until 1855 and the US were forced to take out and defeatthe Cayuse clan. With few Cayuse clan members left that separated into othernative American tribes they had all their Cayuse clan reservation and triballand confiscated and were all gathered together then placed on the reservationwith the Umatilla Indians.