Classroom Based Assessment
Who Caused the Whitman Massacre?
By: Joshua Schwartz
There are many perspectives on events in
history . There are two main perspectives
about who caused the Whitman Massacre.
One view point is from the white man and
the other is from the Cayuse Indians . Both
perspectives leading up and beyond the
Whitman Massacre are important .I will
begin with the white man’s perspective and
follow up with the Indians perspective.
In 1831 when the trappers were hunting and used wool blankets and shiny
knives the Indians thought they were presents from the white man’s gods .They
wanted to learn about the white man’s gods. So they sent four Indian men to
converse with William Clark in St. Louis. Then he thought about what to do. Then
he found out what he should do according to “Washington, Our Home”.
So he sent missionaries to try and convert the Indians to their religion during
five years. Finally he sent Marcus and Narcissa Whitman with the Spaldings in
1836. He wanted them to start missions in Oregon Country. They made the
Whitman Mission so they could convert the Indians to their religion. It was a home
to the Whitmans according to “ The Whitman Massacre” and “ The Cayuse War”.
Pioneers started to travel on the Oregon Trail in 1842. The Whitman Mission
was a rest stop for them. Some people were sick and gave sicknesses to the
Indians. Then Dr. Whitman gave them medicine and they died. Many Indians died
and half of the tribe vanished because of it! It made them angry according to
“Cayuse Attack Mission”.
Then one night in November, 1847 the Indians attacked the Whitman
Mission. They killed people who got in their way. They also took people. By
the end they took fifty-three captives and killed fourteen people. Other people
ran away. Many protestant missions closed. Then the Cayuse War came
because of the massacre. So after the massacre they traded 62 shirts, 12
guns, 600 loads of ammunition, 37 pounds of tobacco to get the captives
In 1854-1856 the Cayuse war was over. Governor Stevens forced the
Indians to sign ten treaties. He also made promises he didn’t keep. Even
Indians that were on reservations got kicked off of them. They were kicked off
because gold was found on the reservations. It changed the Indians life style
But the Cayuse Indians had a different point of view.
In 1831 when trappers used guns and knives and other stuff the Indians thought
the trappers had presents from the white man’s gods. So they sent four men [ 3
Nez Perce and 1 Flathead ] from their tribes to learn a little about the white man’s
gods. Then missionaries came to Oregon Country. The Indians didn’t like the strict
rules of the schools and churches. They also didn’t like what the white man were
teaching according to” Washington, Our Home”.
In 1836 the Whitmans and Spaldings started missions in Oregon Country. Then
they tried to convert the Indians to the white man’s religion. The Indians didn’t like
it. They didn’t want to become part of the white man’s religion. They just wanted to
learn a little about the white man’s religion. But instead they got missionaries who
started a mission and tried to convert them into the white man’s religion according
to “ Washington, Our Home “.
Then in 1842 pioneers started traveling on the Oregon Trail and used the mission as a
rest stop. Some people carried measles or small pox. Then Dr. Whitman gave them
poison and they died. This kept going on and on. Eventually more than 200 people died.
Then one Indian man wanted to test the doctor. So he did this because his wife and child
died from the doctor’s poison. So he got himself sick. Then he went to the doctor and
took the poison.[ They decided this in a council.] He died according to “The Whitman
Finally, the Cayuse had enough of their people dying because of the doctor’s poison.
So one day an Indian struck the doctor on the head with a tomahawk. Thirteen other
people died from being killed. The Indians killed people only if they got in Indians way.
The white man gave the Indians 62 shirts, 37 pounds of tobacco,600 loads of
ammunition, and 12 guns to get their captives back according to “The Cayuse War”.
In 1854-1856 the white man wanted the Indians fertile land. Then they took the
Indians and put them on unfertile reservation lands. When the Indians signed ten
treaties with Governor Stevens they know about what they wrote or said. Governor
Stevens made promises he didn’t even keep. Some Indians got bigger land. Some
Indians got more privileges. Some Indians tried to sneak away to Canada. Some Indians
bless the lands that they gave to the white man with the spirits of other good Indians
according to “Washington, Our Home”.
My conclusion about who started the Whitman Massacre it was the white man’s fault
because they sent the trappers and the things they used confused the Indians. That lead
the Indians to send four the of their men to St. Louis for a talk with William Clark. And
that was both sides of the story for the Whitman Massacre. I thought the white man
started it. But who knows, I might be wrong. And that was my “Dig Deep” CBA.
1. Washington Our Home; Gibbs Smith Education, Text Book, 2010.
2. The Cayuse War; www.legendsofamerica.com, Kathy Weiser, Article, 2003-2011.
3. Cayuse Attack Mission; http://www.historylink.org, David Wilma, Essay 5192, Feb.
4. Experience State History; http://www.expriencestatehistory.com, Gibbs Smith
Education, Student Text Book Web Site,2010.