Oregon and the Collapse of Illahee: U.S. Empire and the Transformation of an Indigenous World, 1792-1859 / Edition 1

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Modern western Oregon was a crucial site of imperial competition in North America during the formative decades of the United States. In this book, Gray Whaley examines relations among newcomers and between newcomers and Native peoples—focusing on political sovereignty, religion, trade, sexuality, and the land—from initial encounters to Oregon's statehood. He emphasizes Native perspectives, using the Chinook word Illahee (homeland) to refer to the indigenous world he examines.

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."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Scholars of American empire, the U.S. West, and indigenous peoples will find this regional study a welcome addition to a growing historiography of American colonialism.—Western Historical Quarterly

This readable volume . . . demonstrates the resilience of indigenous descendents of Ilahee while he challenges the analyses of many previous historians. Highly recommended.—Choice

From the Publisher

"[An] impressive and ambitious study. . . . Readers from many fields will be able to mine Whaley's rich text for insights."

"An important contribution to Pacific Northwest historiography. . . . A compelling and thought-provoking study that raises important questions about the complexity of the colonial process in the Pacific Northwest and about the worldview and actions of the historical actors . . . who were shaped by this process."
-Oregon Historical Quarterly

"Scholars of American empire, the U.S. West, and indigenous peoples will find this regional study a welcome addition to a growing historiography of American colonialism."
-Western Historical Quarterly

"Readers interested in the history of Oregon will find this book refreshing and challenging . . . . An important reinterpretation of the history of the American West as a colonial enterprise."
-American Historical Review

"Whaley's study is a sharp and original interpretation of Oregon's colonial legacies. The diverse perspectives and stories he relates make Oregon and the Collapse of the Illahee an important and highly readable contribution to the scholarship of the Pacific Northwest and American colonial history that will benefit students and scholars alike."
-Journal of American History

"This readable volume . . . demonstrates the resilience of indigenous descendents of Ilahee while he challenges the analyses of many previous historians. Highly recommended."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807871096
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 816,128
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gray Whaley is assistant professor of history at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

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Table of Contents

Preface Reconstructing an American Colonial History ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 Introduction: Historical Constructions of Oregon and lllahee 3

2 So Many Little Sovereignties, 1792-1822 19

3 Disastrous Times We Had: Expansions and Epidemic, 1821-1834 71

4 A Vital Experimental Religion: The Methodist Mission Colony of Lower Oregon, 1834-1844 99

5 Trophies for God: From Mission Colony to American Colony, 1840-1845 125

6 The Colonization of Illahee, 1843-1851 161

7 Polaklie Illahee (Land of Darkness): Identity and Genocidal Culture in Oregon 191

8 Extermination and Empire: Money, Politics, and the Oregon Wars, 1855-1856 217

9 conclusion: Illahee, "Indian Colonies," and the Paternalist State 227

Notes 241

Bibliography 277

Index 297

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