close-up of intricate bead work depicting a stylized flower

NPS collection

Cayuse & Other First Peoples of the Columbia Plateau

Between the Cascade Mountains and the Rocky Mountains is a dry, undulating plain that varies from grassland to scrubland. The area also includes mountains, canyons, and rivers. The tribes of this area developed a lifestyle that took advantage of the wealth of foods that were available in this diverse landscape. The people still live here. Cultural centers are reviving traditional practices and skills. The tribes have also created museums to help others understand their culture and their history.

floor plan of the main mission house

NPS collection

People of the Oregon Mission

In 1836, the American Board of Comissioners for Foreign Missions established the Oregon mission. Over the next eleven years, many missionaries were associated with the mission effort. Other people of the mission included the Whitmans' daughter and adopted children, laborers from Hawaii, and visitors traveling through.

Photo of Peter Skene Ogden

Whitman Mission Handbook

Fur Traders and Explorers

Throughout their tenure a Waiilatpu, the Whitmans' lives were enmeshed with the fur traders. They traveled west together in 1836. Supplies for the mission were purchased from the Hudson Bay Company posts at Fort Vancouver and Fort Walla Walla. Overland mail was carried by the HBC express. The Whitmans raised three children of fur trappers. And, after the deaths of the Whitmans, it was the Peter Skene Ogden (pictured at left) of the HBC who came and ransomed the hostages.

replica wagon

NPS collection

Early Oregon Trail Emigrants

The first wagon trains of settlers started traveling to the Oregon Country in the early 1840s. The Whitmans' mission at Waiilatpu was strategically placed to help these early emigrants. Those who were sick, needed supplies, or needed a place to spend the winter would take the detour to the Whitmans' mission.

Last updated: March 6, 2021

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Mailing Address:

328 Whitman Mission Road
Walla Walla , WA 99362


509 522-6360

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