Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Leap -- Pioneering in Wallowa County

Whatever you think of what the Whites did to the Wallowa Nimiipuu and the Chiefs Jospeh, Older and Younger, one can still admire the hard work of pioneers settling here.  This mountain valley though productive because of the rivers coming off the mountains, is isolated.  Roads and railroads to anywhere were non existent in early years and few in later years.

That meant you could not readily ship in goods such as ploughs.  You had to make them.  Indeed the need for steel and iron forges was a factor in developing the bronze forges used by artists beginning in the 1980s.

But not only did iron have to be forged locally, you could only survive by your own hard work here.  You had to grow it and refine it by hand whatever it was from beef to dairy products to clothing to hand hewn fences and homes built from stone or wood.

Princess took me to the Leap, just north of the town of Enterprise.  Here you cannot see Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa mountains are sometimes hidden by the rolling hills of the Leap.

What you do see he is bits and pieces of the Old West pioneer life and what remains of the ranching life today.

There are too things that are inevitable -- hard work and change.

These hills were once covered by Native Bunch Grasses.  These grasses were not adapted to the heavy grazing of European livestock.  We don't think of it that way, but the cattle brought by the pioneers were not part of the American West until the last couple hundred years.  Native grasses were adapted to the lighter footed deer and antelope who once played upon these slopes.  With the cattle came seed wheat from Europe as well as weed seeds.  European grasses were adapted to the cattle and were tough due to the silica incorporated into their shafts.  Some, such as Cheat Grass, are inedible to the cattle.  But the cattle loved the Native bunch grasses that were tender and ate them rapaciously.  They grew fat and in numbers until most of the bunch grasses were gone.


Then too, of course, the settlers came.  They could almost live in peace with the Indians, at least as long as not too many of them moved in.  It was the miners who truly could not live with the Indians.  When gold was discovered that they petitioned the US government which always found in the White Man's favor.  So in with the whites and out with the Indians.


As more white settlers came, more agriculture came to Wallowa Valley and County.  Hogs came and sheep and dairies.  Farmers and animals grew in number and size until there were too many.  Cheat grass could not support what bunch grass could support and inevitably the boom in farming came to a halt.  In the long run, beef cattle ranching with lower numbers of animals was what was sustainable.


Then came environmentalists and environmental regulations.  The environmentalists saw the remaining bunch grass prairie needed to be preserved.  Environmental regulations meant water pollution and safety standards had to be tightened.  Land was put into preserve with little or no grazing.  Dairies and slaughter houses closed.


One thing never changes -- the hard work of farmers and ranchers.  When the cow or the sheep gives birth and you wish to save the baby from the trickster, Coyote, you have to get up in the middle of a cold wet night and labor with your cow or sheep.  You work from dawn to dusk and during harvest season even more.  And the animals always need tending.  You horse might shelter in a  barn, but you need to feed it and groom it.  And if you right it, you must brush it and care for it before and afterwards too.  You have to clean it's shoes and make sure that they are in place.


That cow dog or sheep dog may be more helpful than a human, but he or she needs care and feeding too.

More work.

And the fields need tending.  Poughing and then planting and fertilizing and harvesting.

Still more work.

And the winer snows lie heavy on the fence.  You have to dig a hole and then another and string the barbed wire tight.  And then the sheep need feeding and the ewe is sick.  And it never ends.

Work, work, work.

But then there are the views.  You get up at dawn and check on the horses in the pasture.  The Wallowas rise beyond the hill.

The horse knows you and knows you bring food and come just because you are there without a call.

Custom and Culture of Wallowa County, Oregon 2009

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Princess, the Domestic Violence Survivor Who Was Abused by Her Husband and then by Her Church

She styles herself a princess. It is the positive self talk she struggles to use to heal herself and propel herself forward to a better life.

Probably it is her way of trying to answer the words she heard from those who should have loved her from birth.

Princess was not only abused by those who actually beat her physically, but also by members of her community and church who judged her and blamed her and sided with the men who abused her.

Perhaps because of this she talks hesitantly about the past and not at all about some events and memories.

Like so many survivors sometimes all she can say is, "I was abused."

The abuse started early.  She was not as a wanted child.  She was reminded of this over and over in her life.

Her mother's family were Wallowa County pioneers who came from the South after the Civil War.  The men in the family treated everyone around them as though they were plantation owners.  Her grandmother was different.  Princess loved her grandmother.  Her grandmother was the kindest person in her family during her childhood.

Once her grandmother told Princess a family secret -- that she likely had "black blood."

This grandmother never tolerated anyone criticizing African Americans.

The unspoken truth is that many white people have "black blood" and don't know it because black ancestry was so disadvantageous for most of American history that any black American who could pass for white, did so.  The other unspoken truth is that many white men who owned black slaves owned them in all ways.

United States president, founding father and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, wrote to friends about his later life at his plantation, Monticello, that he was living like an Old Testament patriarch.  Two hundred years later members of the African American family whose oral history was that they were descended from Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress, Sally Hemmings, were proved correct by DNA tests.

For the less churched readers of this blog, Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch and father of both Arab and Jewish peoples, lived with both wife Sarah and her slave, Hagar, and fathered children by both.  The relationship caused great pain to both women.

In other words, slavery promoted a culture of abuse in multiple ways -- not merely the abuse of blacks as humans but also the abuse of women as humans.

Or perhaps in the words of Desmond Tutu, former Anglican Archbishop and Chair of the Truth and  Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, "I am human because you are human.  If you are dehumanized, I am dehumanized."

In other words, slavery not only dehumanized blacks; it supported the dehumanization of women as well.

Princess's words about her grandmother echo an unspoken memory of a slave woman ancestor,  a great great great grandmother, perhaps a great great grandmother, who had no choice in the matter of sex with her white master and bore a child or children, some of whom were female and who also had no choice in the matter of sex with the master.  Eventually one or more of these children was light enough to pass for white and did so.  And she or he became Princess's antecedant.

So racism is a form of abuse as is slavery and the mix includes sexual abuse.

Princess's father's ancestry included an Indian woman, but not necessarily of Nez Perce heritage.

One of her father's ancestors was a French Fur trapper.  He took an Indian wife.

Princess remarked, "It was not a romantic relationship.  She was his property."

So the past was not auspicious for Princess and her parents.

Her mother was very intelligent, but her mother's father saw no use to educating a girl past Middle School.  Girls were supposed to cook and clean and stay at home and bear children.  They were not supposed to have intellectual aspirations and meaningful work outside the home.

Princess's mother rebelled against the life she was expected to live, but her rebellions were not conducive to a healthy childhood for Princess.  Her mother often worked as a bar maid and smoked and drank and brought home many of the men she met in the various bars where she worked.

She died in her fifties from a smoking related illness, trying to pry cigarettes from the packs of male visitors who left their smokes in their shirt pockets.

Princess rebelled in her own ways but does not like to talk about the past.

What she can talk about is the one thing that sustained her through a challenging childhood and adulthood -- faith.

Princess's faith has always been an open hearted and open spirited one.  She attended Church faithfully but was not dogmatic in her beliefs.  She is uncomfortable with dogmatic approaches to faith -- instincts  strengthened by her life experiences.

Princess married a time or two or three; she is vague about the details.  And she gave birth to one wonderful daughter and three wonderful sons.  Her eldest son died as one of the younger ones was being born.

She curled up in a ball and wanted to die herself but for the needs of her new baby.

Her depression put a lasting strain on her marriage, and then her husband cracked.

He, too, had come from a challenging family.  He never confronted the abusive relationships in his life and is stilling living and dying from the side effects.

Princess loved her husband.  He was a rancher as her father had been.  He came from Wallowa County pioneer stock as did Princess's mother and father.

Princess loved the ranch life.  She loved horses and cows and the range and the mountains and the canyons and lakes and valleys of Wallowa County.

She found a connection to God, the father of all being, in nature, in the ranch, in the animals….

Wallowa County, the home Princess loves…

But her distress over her son's death fed into her husband's unresolved issues from his own childhood.  He had grown up with abuse and over time it became his way of handling conflict with Princess.

Over time, particularly in the last year or two of their marriage, the problems grew worse.

One day after a decade or so of marriage he beat her and shot a gun at her but did not hit her.

She knew it was only a matter of time before he would aim a gun at her and hit his target.

She went to live in the women's shelter.

Her husband lost his right to see his children, but she went to court to restore those rights.

Through her own troubled childhood, she understood that children have to right to have a relationship with even a troubled parent if the child is not the primary recipient of sexual and physical violence.  She did not confuse what was good for her with what was good for her sons.

But other Christians were not as open hearted and open minded as Princess.

As they were divorcing, Princess's husband who had never been religious before, joined a church.

The people of that Church condemned Princess for breaking marriage vows.  After all, had Jesus not prohibited divorce, saying the Moses had only allowed it for the hard heartedness of humans?

But looking at the cultural and historical context of the Bible is very helpful to understanding what Jesus meant.

In the time of Jesus, men could divorce women very easily, but it was difficult for women to obtain divorces.

Former Catholic Bishop from Australia, Goeffrey Robinson, wrote about the issue.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4.  It accepted divorce as a fact of life and imposed two requirements: the husband had to write out a bill of divorce and give it to his wife before two witnesses, and he could never marry her again once she had married another man.  The written bill of divorce was a protection for the wife, since it proved that she was free to marry and saved her from charges of adultery, while the prohibition against marrying her again deterred spur-of-the-moment divorces.  There were no courts or other persons involved in the divorce, other than the two witnesses.  With the handing over of the bill of divorce, all formalities were completed and the divorce was final.  The husband alone had the right to divorce.  The wife had no appeal and, indeed, no rights in the matter at all, and the only way in which she herself could secure a divorce was by putting pressure on her husband to divorce her. 

So divorce in the time of Jesus was supremely unfair to women.  Jesus was always a great advocate for better treatment for both women and children.

In Matthew 19:14, the New International Version of the Bible Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Then there is the story of the women with the issue of blood from Luke 8:43-48:

43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.  45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.  47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.  48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

In ancient Israel as in many other cultures, women were considered unclean if they had their menses.  It was obvious that this was also true if you had an illness that caused bleeding as was likely the case with the woman in this Bible passage.  The woman was afraid to approach Jesus as she knew she was "unclean" by the standards of her society, but Jesus was not concerned with being made unclean by begin touched by a woman during her menses.

Jesus says in Matthew 23:25 to 27 that what makes you unclean is your behavior and your thinking.  Rigid adherence to rituals and rules does not make you "clean."

25"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26"You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.…

Christians forget the details of what Jesus said and often adhere to the simplest of meanings.

Jesus would not have been worried by Princess being made unclean by divorcing her husband.  He would have been much more concerned with supporting Princess in the process of ending abuse in her life and healing and changing herself.

Princess was like the woman with the issue of blood.  She never lost her faith in Jesus, but members of this fundamentalist Christian Church her husband joined saw her as unclean.

Given her faith, Princess fought back the only way she knew -- by turning to her faith and by reading the Bible.  She scoured the Bible for verses to support her position.

Maybe St. Paul did say that women were supposed to be subject to their husbands, but he also said as recorded in Ephesians 5:25 to 27 that men were to treat women as Jesus treated the people of the church -- lovingly.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.…

Princess knew the Bible well.  She knew that If her husband subjected her to verbal and physical violence, he had already broken their marriage vows as certainly as if he had committed adultery.  He broke up their marriage, not her.

In trying to sort out her feelings, Princess wrote two books:

 The Toad and the Princess   (Amazon link)


Until Death Do Us Part

The Toad and the Princess is a fable version of what it is like to be abused and how to heal yourself.   Princess wrote it for children, but it also turns out to be good for adults.  Sometimes the actual story of abuse or domestic violence is too personal to process.  By telling the story as a fable, Princess made the elemental parts of the experience easier to understand.

You can buy The Toad and the Princess at  The link is provided above.  You can also go the Amazon website and search for The Toad and the Princess by Rhonda Trullinger.

Until Death Do Us Part refers the reader to the Bible passages that inspired Princess (ie. Ephesians, 5:25 to 27), shares Princess's insights and interpretations of these passages and offers space for the reader to do the same.

Maybe you are like Princess.  You are an abuse survivor whose been abused both by the abuser but also by members of the community who support the abuser but not the abused.  Or maybe you are a member of the community who has supported the abuser.

Perhaps the responsibility to end abuse depends on all of us.  At the very least we can ask questions and be open hearted and open minded before we come to conclusions about accusations of abuse and domestic violence.

One more thought:  If beating or emotionally or sexually abusing your wife breaks the sacrament of marriage, does not also the abuse of children break the sacrament of the priesthood?

If you want to buy Until Death Do Us Part, please contact Rhonda Trullinger at

© 2014 Virginia Pickles Jones


DIVORCE AND THE GREAT TRADITION: Discerning "the signs of the times" by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, April 23, 2014.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Iwetemlaykin: Safe and Welcoming Home

Iwetemlaykin:  Safe and Welcoming Home

This is the location of the summer home of the Wallowa Nez Perce  or Nimiipuu (nee-nee-poo) people.

They moved between semi-permanent encampments or villages.  Their fall home was by the Columbia River where they traded for dried salmon.  Their winter home lay in the mild climes along the Imnaha River Canyon.  Their summer hone was here, at the North end of Wallowa Lake, close to where Old Chief Joseph is buried.  Old Chief Joseph is the father of Young Chief Joseph, who led his people on their legendary fighting retreat from pursuing US soldiers in 1877.  The US government gave the Nimiipuu no choice but to leave their home and go to the reservation in Idaho.  Some young Nimiipuu men, frustrated with the unfairness of the situation, attacked some white settlers.  The US Army was ordered to pursue and subdue the Indians.  The Nimiipuu amazed all with their stamina: 750 Indians including warriors but also women and children and elders, fought 2,000 US soldiers as they fled towards Canada from early June to October, 1877, when the winter winds began to blow cold and snow.

In October 1877, Young Chief Joseph surrendered saying the famous words, "I will fight no more forever."

He never saw his home again.

The name of Chief Joseph's summer home, the Nimiipuu summer village, is Iwetemlaykin (eee-weh-temm-lye-kin).

The definition of "at home" is:

1:  relaxed and comfortable  
2: in harmony with surroundings
3:  on familiar ground
April 22, 2014

Survivors often do not feel at home anywhere:

Not among friends and family.
Not in Church.
Not in the community.

Our stories make other people uncomfortable.  They want us to be silent and stop reminding them of what they don't want to face -- the fractured history of our lives, the imperfection in others we know and love: the priest, the mother, the husband, the grandfather, the cousin, the Sunday School teacher….

Sometimes the wounds of rejection and loss of belonging are even more painful than the abuse itself.

The Nimiipuu people of Wallowa Valley offer us a parallel experience we can access for understanding.
Their story makes us uncomfortable as the only way to create true justice for the Nimiipuu people would be to return the Wallowa Mountains and Wallowa Valley our ancestors took from their ancestors.  But no one ever mentions this.  The price of atonement is simply too high.  We prefer to dedicate statues, create parks, and name streets in honor of those our ancestors abused.

Our ancestors abused the Nimiipuu in many ways.  We imposed our religion in cruel ways Jesus would condemn as he condemned the money changers in the temple.  We took away their way of life: Salmon fishing, hunting for game, gathering grains and nuts and fruits and roots, moving from village to village with the season, and creating baskets and clothing and tools by hand.  Our ancestors took their beautiful valley and lake and mountains.  When their young men boiled over with anger, instead of being patient, our soldiers pursued them until the warriors lay dying and the children went hungry and the elders were freezing and the women were alone.  But that was not enough.  Our ancestors imprisoned their survivors in a fort in distant Oklahoma.  Even when they left Oklahoma seven years later and returned to the Pacific Northwest, they were not allowed to return to any of the land where they had once lived.  Even the white soldiers who pursued the Nez Perce importuned the US government to allow Young Chief Joseph the opportunity to visit Wallowa Valley.  It was never to be.  After 7 years in prison, he was allowed to go to live with some of his people in Washington State, but the closest he ever came to Wallowa Valley was to sit on his horse hundreds of miles to the north looking south across the Columbia River in the general direction of the Wallowas.

Princess, the survivor of Wallowa County pioneer and Indian stock, commented that the US government behaved in ways that were just like an abuser.  The government was not content with the Nez Perce leaving Wallowa Valley.  They had to control them even after they left.  

As we contemplate what happened to the Nimiipuu here, we can access what happened to our loved ones who were abused.  Or maybe it was us, you and me, who lost our sense of safety and belonging.

This home by Wallowa Lake is safe and beautiful and peaceful.

The season in these pictures is late winter.  The Nimiipuu would not be here in winter.

They would be sheltering in the warmer climes of the Imnaha River Canyon 30 miles to the east.

On this late winter day, the snow capped Wallowa Mountains stand above us, winter squalls brewing.

Snow falls on mountain peaks, stopping short of the valley where we are.

A small stand of trees breaks the wind blowing across the grassy moraine.

A trail leads us to the trees and beyond.

We find a pond still enough to reflect mountains and sky.

Sit still and contemplate the scene.

What do you feel when you sit still here?

Thinks of the ancestors who lived here.

What did they feel?  What did they experience?

Close your eyes and imagine.

….camp fires, long houses, women carrying babies on their backs and baskets in their arms filled with food or water from this pond, dogs dashing along the path, children playing. … men arriving on Appaloosa horses with game….

Walk beyond the pond up the slopes of the moraine.  The sun peaks through the clouds.

Beyond, rain falls on the prairie.

Turn again to see the Wallowas.


What do you feel when you look at the Wallowas?

What is the definition of "at home" given in the beginning of this post?

What does "at home" mean to you?

Do you have a home?

What is "homey" about the place where you live?

Have you ever lost a place that felt like home to you?  If you did, what did the loss feel like to you?

What did the Nimiipuu people feel when they lost their home?

What happens to some abuse survivors when they come forward?

What can we do to heal the wounds?


Head into Wallowa Valley from LaGrande on Highway 82 and proceed to Joseph.

Or head into Wallowa Valley from Milton Freewater, Oregon.  Go south from Milton Freewater on Highway 11.  Take Highway 204 -- the Weston Elgin Highway -- to Elgin where it merges with Highway 82.

Follow Highway 82 to Joseph.

Head south from Joseph on the Wallowa Lake Highway.  To your right you will find a small parking lot with informational signs about Iwetemlaykin and outhouses.

© 2014 Virginia Pickles Jones


Memorial for Old Chief Joseph: Coping with Painful Memories Through Rituals

Many people have heard of Young Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) Indian people who said, "I will Fight No More Forever."

Statue of Young Chief Joseph in Joseph, Oregon

He said this after leading his people on an 1,800 mile trek through Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Wyoming after they were ordered to leave their home in the Wallowa Valley of Oregon and become permanent residents on a small reservation in Idaho.  Eventually Chief Joseph had to surrender because the Nimiipuu warriors were dead, the elderly were freezing, the children were starving, and the women were alone.

Old Chief Joseph was the father and namesake of Young Chief Joseph.  He converted to Christianity in 1839, and tried to live in peace with white settlers who kept coming and coming from the East.  He signed the treaty in 1855, that gave much land to the white people but protected Wallowa Valley as a sacred homeland for his people.  After gold was found nearby, white miners and settlers pushed the US government to break the 1855 treaty and force a new one on the Nimiipuu that took away 90 percent of their traditional lands.  Chief Joseph renounced Christianity and refused to recognize the treaty.  He died in 1871, and was buried by the forks of the Wallowa and Lostine Rivers north and west of Wallowa Lake.  In 1886, white settlers desecrated his grave and took his skull as a souvenir.

By 1926, the hearts and minds of the children and grandchildren of the original settlers had changed.  Or perhaps the farmer who plowed the land where Chief Joseph was buried was tired of plowing around the grave.  Local whites dug up Old Chief Joseph's skeleton, identifying it by the lack of a skull, and reburied it at the north end of Wallowa Lake.  Some say 2,000 people attended the reburial.  Some say that 6,000 attended the ceremony.  The grave has become a holy site for the Nimiipuu.  It is also a site visited and contemplated by many non-Indians.  Many people leave mementos -- feathers, plastic toy horses, bead jewelry and much more.

This grave site sits at the terminus of the glacial moraine that dams Wallowa Lake.  Sitting by the memorial, you can see the lake and the Wallowa Mountains beyond.

Mementos left by visitors and pilgrims.

Sit a while and contemplate.

What does this place mean to you?

What do you feel when you sit here?

Why do people bring mementos or offerings to this place?

What do these mementos mean to you?

What would you feel if you were Nimiipuu?

What would you do if you were Nimiipuu?

Is there anything in your life that is extremely painful to remember?

How do you cope with your pain?

What else can you do to cope with your painful memories?

Do you practice any rituals that help you express your pain safely?

©2014 Virginia Pickles Jones


The Nez Perce long for the return of Chief Old Joseph's stolen skull By RICHARD COCKLE, May 14, 2006, The Oregonian

April, 22, 2014 Old Chief Joseph Gravesite

To learn about the Nimiipuu today, read a series of excellent articles carried by the Idaho Statesman newspaper in 2005.  I don't have permission to link the articles, but you can cut and past this reference to learn more.

Soul wounds, Idaho Statesmen Journal, September 20, 2005

On the right hand side of the page you will find links to more articles:

Soul Murder and Healing (Or How Not To Be a Missionary)

Please know this blog is just a draft and not finished.

I sometimes lose my blogs so I published it.

As I was reading about the Nez Perce, I felt awful for how White people treated them and so many other Native Americans and ethic minorities.  Of course not all whites were bad.  Some were pretty decent.  I am proud to have Quaker ancestors who were among the pretty decent white people, but anyway, I needed to share what I was reading from different sources online.  Even though I wrote about atrocities, I was not including all the details.  I needed to include more -- just not in specific blogs as it did not serve the purpose of those blogs.  So I included it here.  Just know this is a rough draft and not a finished edition.

I have read about clergy abuse, and I have read about what happened to Native Americans in the last few hundred years.  What happened to Native Americans is a particularly awful form of clergy abuse (until I start reading about slavery and other genocides).  The Catholic Church today is enlightened compared to what most Christians were 200 years ago

One hundred eighty years ago Dr. Marcus Whitman and Henry Spaulding came to Washington and Idaho to Christianize the Native Americans, although, in retrospect, both appeared to come more to claim the land for whites than to "save" Indian souls.  At the very best they were arrogant.  At their worst, one would consider the religion they taught not Christianity but the practice of evil.

In any case, the Native American peoples had their own spirituality.  From "Time Immemorial" an article printed in the Idaho Statesmen Journal on September 22, 2005:

They had a faith that sustained them for generations. They believed in a Creator who made the Earth and everything in it. The Creator was in some ways similar to the God of Christianity, but there was no hell, no need for salvation. The Earth, the plants, the air and water and the animals with which the people shared them were sacred to them. The animals were brothers who sacrificed themselves to provide food, clothing and shelter. All things were interconnected. Nothing was to be taken from the Earth without giving something back — a physical offering, a prayer or both.

"A Way of Life Unravels," published on September 21, 2005 in the  Idaho Statesman Journal describes the activities of the missionaries.
Lee's "mission" in the fertile Willamette Valley became primarily one of colonizing by opening the area to emigrants. It also planted seeds of cultural and social change that continues to the present.
Lee's venture inspired Dr. Marcus Whitman and the Rev. Henry Spalding, both Presbyterians, to spread their faith. They came West together as far as Fort Boise. Whitman continued on to a site near present-day Walla Walla, Wash., where he established a mission among the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes. Spalding settled on Lapwai Creek, near the site of the Idaho town that now bears his name.
The Nimiipuu, whom the white newcomers called Nez Perce, welcomed the minister and his wife, Eliza. They gave them one of their best buffalo-hide tipis to live in until they could build a log home. The year was 1836 — 30 years after Lewis and Clark. For the once mighty Nimiipuu, arguably the best friends Lewis and Clark had on their journey, life would never again be the same.
Spalding was effective at spreading the faith. The Lapwai area today supports eight Christian denominations, with Presbyterians still the most numerous. Even they, however, question Spalding's motto and apparent guiding philosophy: "Kill the Indian, spare the man."
Vera Sonneck, the tribe's cultural resources director and a third-generation Presbyterian, categorized Spalding as "a very strict follower of the Old Testament book of Proverbs, in which people were punished by whipping and stoning. He'd have people whipped if they didn't cut their hair or get rid of their traditional garb. You conformed, and your values were changed. You weren't even allowed to speak your language in his presence."
The reverend wasted no time establishing a working relationship with his hosts, whipping those who failed to carry their share of the logs used to build his house.
With a few exceptions, Spalding had little trouble intimidating the Nez Perce, who were in awe of the seemingly miraculous power of the white people's knowledge. The new people could communicate volumes of information without speech or signs. They possessed powerful science. Deeply spiritual, many Nez Perce reasoned that only good could come from learning the white man's religion.
Some balked at the concept of religion administered with a boot and a lash. Others at least partially accepted it, and Spalding used his position as the representative of the white man's God to establish a virtual dictatorship. He administered 50 lashes to a chief who returned early from an errand because his horse had failed. A woman who hadn't embraced the new religion was whipped for leaving her abusive husband, who had. Hungry children were whipped for stealing food.
Spalding encouraged the Nez Perce to abandon their traditional modes of living and become farmers. The tribe's oral history includes stories of giving potatoes without eyes to those who offended him. When the potatoes failed to sprout, he told the would-be farmers it was their fault because they were devils. Oral history holds that he put sheep dye in melons to poison those who failed to please him.
To a people who believed in the hereafter solely as a place of peace and serenity — and whose warriors accordingly were not afraid to die — he introduced the concept of eternal damnation. He supplanted the cool waters and lush meadows of the hereafter with unending fire.
Spalding "justified himself by saying the tribe sent the warriors to St. Louis because they were seeking salvation," said Diane Mallickan, cultural interpreter at the Nez Perce National Historical Park and co-editor of "The Nez Perce Nation Divided." "If you have no concept of hell, what do you need to be saved from?"
Spalding's and Whitman's un-Christian practices in the name of Christianity were their undoing.
At Walla Walla, Whitman openly belittled the spirituality that had sustained the tribes for generations, and he fueled a land rush by recruiting emigrants who appropriated land the Indians had held for centuries. The newcomers brought, among other things, a measles epidemic that killed about half of the Cayuse. Convinced that Whitman was evil and that they were losing their homes and way of life, the survivors rebelled. Whitman's administration ended with the 1847 murders of the doctor, his family and 12 other whites.
Fearing the Nez Perce would follow suit, Spalding fled to Oregon.

And it got worse.  Indian children were forced into boarding schools and were beaten if they spoke native languages or followed any traditional practice.
My friend, Cec, who is Umatilla and not Nimiipuu, told me about forced sterilization that Native Americans underwent.
The Native Americans were subjected to cultural, religious and ethnic genocide.
These experiences can be compared to a mass practice of abuse.
What are the symptoms of severe abuse?

Alcoholism and drug addiction
low self esteem
problems maintaining jobs
problems maintaining relationship

I've heard the term, but I have forgotten it in the moment.  Something about generational trauma from abuse.  Certainly what happened to Native Americans is a form of extreme abuse just as slavery is a form of extreme abuse.
Some Native Americans have left the Christianity forced upon them by whites.
Some have strengthened Native American practices and beliefs while maintaining what is good about Christianity.  When you mistreat a person or a whole group of people, they will have problems.
Many people I know despair about the current state of affairs of war and race hatred and other problems facing our country and world, but looking back at the past I come to a hopeful conclusion  Today we take for granted that the practices of Marcus Whitman and Henry Spalding are very wrong.  There may be a few people somewhere who defend how Native Americans have been treated, but they are very few.  More people don't understand how trauma can last generation after generation let alone damage an individual for the rest of their lives.
Human progress appears to be measured by two steps forward and one and a half backwards.
But then again, maybe we have not gotten better.  Look at what we Americans did in Iraq.  We never found any weapons of mass destruction -- our excuse for our invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Moreover we bombed Iraq from above.  And our soldiers road in armored personnel carriers -- sealed away from enemy combatants.  Although there was a time when our soldiers had to provide their own body armor as the military was remiss in providing protection from explosive devices planted in the road by Iraqis who did not agree with our perception of things.
No, maybe we are not any better than in the past but our abuses are farther away and easier to dismiss.
But just as an individual we can work to overcome the trauma and damage of abuse, we can, as a people, work to overcome the damage of abuse to our society.
Nez Perce people and youth struggle cultural soul trauma as evidenced by high unemployment and high school dropout rates, but these improved significantly in the 20 years prior to 2005.
The Nimiipuu language is now being taught In the Lapwai High School, located where Chief Jopseh and the Wallowa Nimiipuu were relocating to prior to the Nez Perce War.  In the past Native American children were beaten if they spoke their native language and engaged in any native cultural practice.
Today the culture from the past is being used to heal.
For example, the horse culture of the Nimiipuu is also being resurrected to heal wounded youth.
Troubled youth are given horses to care for.  You have to feed and water the horse every day and shovel manure from its stall.  If you don't care for your horse, he or she will sicken and maybe even die.  In order to ride the horse, you must discipline yourself and teach the horse to follow your instructions.  And every time you ride the horse, you must brush it and care for it afterwards .  As you care for the horse, you learn responsibility.   Your relationship with the horse and being able to ride the horse is your reward for your hard work and responsibility.
Caring for your horse and your growing relationship with the horse brings alive the Nimiipuu belief in the interconnectedness of all beings.  
Horse centered therapy is increasingly being used for healing by Non-Native American groups too such as wounded war veterans and other adults and children with emotional and behavioral disturbances.  It is called Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT).  
To understand the struggles of Nimiipuu today, we have to look at history, but answers for healing are also found in history, including those who have lived through history.
One last current Nimiipuu source of cultural healing is to pair children with elders to hear their stories.  Sharing our stories heals us.  For the Nimiipuu it is also a way of preserving the past and rebuilding the spirit and culture of the tribe.  Perhaps listening is as healing for the listener as it is for the person who is being listened to.

"A Way of Life Unravels," published on September 21, 2005 in the  Idaho Statesman Journal describes the activities of the missionaries.
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References:  "Time Immemorial" Idaho Statesmen Journal, September 22, 2005,

"A Way of Life Unravels," published on September 21, 2005 in the  Idaho Statesman Journal.

Read more here: