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Oregon and the Collapse of Illahee

U.S. Empire and the Transformation of an Indigenous World, 1792-1859

Gray H. Whaley

Publication Year: 2010

Whaley argues that the process of Oregon's founding is best understood as a contest between the British Empire and a nascent American one, with Oregon's Native people and their lands at the heart of the conflict. He identifies race, republicanism, liberal economics, and violence as the key ideological and practical components of American settler-colonialism. Native peoples faced capriciousness, demographic collapse, and attempted genocide, but they fought to preserve ###Illahee# even as external forces caused the collapse of their world. Whaley's analysis compellingly challenges standard accounts of the quintessential antebellum Promised Land.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

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PREFACE: Reconstructing an American Colonial History

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pp. ix-x

The colonial history of the United States did not end with the American Revolution. Independence from the British Empire signaled the advent of U.S. colonialism. In the West, the colonial era continued through the...

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pp. xi-xii

I am indebted to the generous advice of many individuals. At the University of Oregon, Professors Jeffrey Ostler, Peggy Pascoe, Matthew Dennis, and Madonna Moss offered insightful commentary at critical points early in the...

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1: Introduction: Historical Constructions of Oregon and Illahee

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pp. 3-17

When the first Western ship entered the Columbia River in 1792, Americans and Chinooks greeted each other, exchanged goods, and unknowingly launched a colonial history that would forever alter...

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2 So Many Little Sovereignties, 1792–1822

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pp. 19-70

By the late 1700s, a new era of global exchange and imperial competition had emerged: the trans-Pacific trade. The Spanish had long since consolidated their rule on the Pacific coast of the Americas and the Philippines, and...

3 Disastrous Times We Had: Expansions and Epidemic, 1821–1834

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pp. 71-98

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4 A Vital Experimental Religion: The Methodist Mission Colony of Lower Oregon, 1834–1844

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pp. 99-123

In 1834 a band of Methodists led by Rev. Jason Lee came to bring salvation to the Native people and the diverse population of fur-trade colonials. Lee and his band of Methodists entered a world in flux. Malaria devastated Native...

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5 Trophies for God: From Mission Colony to American Colony, 1840–1845

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pp. 125-160

The Methodists’ experiment in Oregon would ultimately fall to the politics of mission and colony. By the early 1840s, emigrants, missionaries (Catholics and Methodists), and John McLoughlin of the hbc bickered over various...

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6 The Colonization of Illahee, 1843–1851

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pp. 161-189

The Euro-American emigrants of the 1840s who survived the Oregon Trail were not plagued by the subtleties of balancing Christian mission and colony. Indeed, the missionaries’ reports of “vanishing Indians” encouraged their...

7 Polaklie Illahee (Land of Darkness): Identity and Genocidal Culture in Oregon

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pp. 191-216

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8 Extermination and Empire: Money, Politics, and the Oregon Wars, 1855–1856

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pp. 217-226

In the early spring of 1856, the regular army ended the conflict, and, once again, the joint action by Oregon Territory and the United States produced considerable acrimony between federals and colonials. By early February 1856...

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9 Conclusion: Illahee, “Indian Colonies,” and the Paternalist State

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pp. 227-239

When European and American mariners first encountered the Native peoples of the lower Columbia, they were not enacting some preordained plan of gradual imperial domination of the region and its inhabitants. Like...


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pp. 241-275


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pp. 277-296


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pp. 297-303

E-ISBN-13: 9781469603971
E-ISBN-10: 1469603977
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807833674
Print-ISBN-10: 0807833673

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010