Western history has taken on new meaning with our visits to the broad steppes, wide rivers and majestic mountains of the West. From the Lewis & Clark expedition in the early 1800s to the Christian missionaries who arrived forty years later to proselytize the Plateau tribes, we have gotten a superficial look at the clash and co-existence of two peoples.
Ten years after the first missionaries arrived, 5,000 people a year were arriving to the Walla Walla region via the Oregon Trail. At first, the Native peoples responded in friendship, attending services, trading and living near the missionaries
As their numbers increased, settlers brought diseases that wiped out half the people in many tribes. The Native people fought back, killing missionaries and fighting US troops at places like Cottonwood Canyon or White Bird Creek.
I visited a quiet graveyard in a grove outside of Fort Walla Walla and read the markers of the fallen soldiers. Calvary soldiers, many of them veterans of the Civil War, came West with the US Army and died in pitched battles with the Native people whose dwindling numbers inspired them to make a last stand.
And in the graveyard, a few markers remain, many of people still unknown.
Listen as Johnny Cash & Lynn Anderson tear it up.
Where we are today.