The Observer. (La Grande, Or.) 1968-current, September 01, 2022, Thursday Edition, Page 19, Image 19

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In other parts of the year they contin-
ued their migratory, nomadic habits as
they searched for game and native plants.
Due to the lack of converts, the
missionary bosses back east wanted to
discontinue the mission and consolidate
resources near Spokane, Wash. Marcus
Whitman, however, had other ideas. He
traveled east to lobby to keep the mission
open. On the way back West, he joined
the fi rst large wagon train on what would
become the Oregon Trail.
Each year, more pioneers used the
trail. Most dreamed of settling in the
fertile Willamette Valley and claiming their
own piece of paradise.
In 1844, the Whitman Mission popula-
tion grew as Marcus and Narcissa adopt-
ed seven Sager children whose parents
had died on the trail.
The Whitmans off ered the mission as
a rest stop just off the trail. They provided
food to the hungry, medicine to
the sick and repairs to folks who had
broken wagons.
The school for Indian children failed.
Eventually it was replaced by a boarding
school for settlers’ children.
The trickle of emigrants on westward
migration became a fl ood. Then, in 1847,
a measles epidemic broke out, and
Marcus off ered medicine for both whites
and Indians.
The Cayuse became increasingly
agitated when white children mostly
survived, but the Indian children, lacking
immunity, died.
Their antipathy grew as the Whitmans
welcomed white settlers who Indians sus-
pected as wanting to steal their land.
The boil-over point came on Nov. 29,
1847, when a small band of Indians attacked
the mission. The Whitmans and 11 other
whites were killed. The mission burned
down, and 53 people were taken hostage.
News traveled slowly in those days.
But when Congress learned of the attack,
they quickly moved to make Oregon a
legal territory, a step toward white domi-
nance in a previously wild land.
A walk around the grounds is a step
back in time. Visit the Great Grave, the
Whitman Memorial, the reconstructed
Oregon Trail ruts.
At the visitor center, open 9 a.m. to
4 p.m., learn more about the history of Whit-
man Mission by watching a 25-minute fi lm.
AUG. 3�10
Above: The obelisk at
Whitman Mission is visible
in the background, at
the top of the hill. Left:
Explore history at the
Whitman Mission National
Historic Site in Walla Walla,
National Park Service/
Contributed Photos
The park grounds are open 8 a.m. to
4:30 p.m., including Memorial Day, July 4
and Labor Day. The grounds are closed
on other federal holidays.
None of the original buildings survive.
But on a self-guided tour you can see
where buildings such as the blacksmith
shop were located, and with imagination
visualize how things looked before that
fateful day in 1847.