Unsettled Ground

Unsettled Ground

The Whitman Massacre and Its Shifting Legacy in the American West
by Cassandra Tate

A highly-readable, myth-busting history of the Whitman Massacre—a pivotal event in the history of the American West—that includes the often-missing Native American point of view.

In 1836, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, devout missionaries from upstate New York, established a Presbyterian mission on Cayuse Indian land near what is now the fashionable wine capital of Walla Walla, Washington. Eleven years later, a group of Cayuses killed the Whitmans and eleven others in what became known as the Whitman Massacre. The attack led to a war of retaliation against the Cayuse; the extension of federal control over the present-day states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming; and martyrdom for the Whitmans. Today, however, the Whitmans are more likely to be demonized as colonizers than revered as heroes. 

In Unsettled Ground, historian and journalist Cassandra Tate takes a fresh look at the personalities, dynamics, disputes, social pressures, and shifting legacy of a pivotal event in the history of the American West.

“[Tate] tells the Cayuse’s side of the story with empathy and clarity . . . a meticulously researched book. The Seattle Times

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