The Whitman Massacre
“Mayosapiens.” My new favorite word! 🥰
I remember hearing from work associates that some of the Cayuse had accepted the mission work and had adopted parts of the white lifestyle, including wearing white peoples' clothing. What was not taught to them was how to care for said clothing (i.e. washing with soap) and through use and wear, body residue collected on the clothing and had rendered it useless in protecting the people against the cold, killing many of them due to exposure. They rightly blamed the Whitmans, and so of course the predictable course of events proceeded to happen. I used to do archaeology for the Forest Service close to Walla Walla, and that was part of the prevailing wisdom there about the history of the mission and the massacre.
Purchased this book & love it!
The Cayuse didn’t think Dr Whitman was poisoning them just because of the measles. He was also literally poisoning them. He’d been trying to get them to do agriculture the mayosapien way, where each person had their own plot and was responsible for growing and harvesting the crops. But the Cayuse were used to Indigenous-style agriculture, where land is held in common, crops are planted and tended communally, and anyone who needs food can just go harvest whatever they find that is ripe. So when Whitman grew corn, the Cayuse let their horses eat it, and when Whitman grew melons, the Cayuse would pick and eat them. Whitman used to warn white visitors not to eat crops from certain fields because he had poisoned them to make the Cayuse feel “a little sick” if they ate them. He also left out poisoned meat in an attempt to kill wolves, and both the Cayuse and their dogs were sickened from that. So when people started dropping off from measles, it was only logical to assume that that was part of the whole poisoning pattern Dr Whitman had engaged in from the beginning. (My family first came to Walla Walla in the late 1850s, so only a decade or so after these events. Back then it was common knowledge that Whitman had made his own bed.)
You description of the colonist tickles me every time.
"Marcus Whitman was a physician at a time when they mostly still sucked cuz what the fuck are germs I don’t need to wash my hands before treating this scratch on your leg. Hand me the bone saw." I kind of agree with this, but the idea of germs and hygiene emerged with Semmelweiss in Vienna in 1850 and the very beginning of Pasteur's work in 1854 in Paris. While Dr. Whitman was a self-centered privileged colonizer/Christian supremacist - it is unlikely that in Washington state in the mid 1840s he probably knew nothing about germ theory.
As a secretly vindictive human I liked that illustration more than I should.