Washington State Debate: Is it time to stop whitewashing our history?

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tags: Marcus Whitman

People are debating whether to replace the statue in Congress of missionary Marcus Whitman.

Marcus Whitman was a Protestant missionary who might have faded into historical obscurity had not he, his wife Narcissa, and 11 others been killed by Cayuse Indians at his mission at Waiilatpu, near present-day Walla Walla, on Nov. 29, 1847 — 170 years ago. Instead, he became one of the most memorialized figures in Washington state history.

A county, a college, a national forest, half a dozen public schools and numerous other enterprises — from an upscale hotel in Walla Walla to a church in Des Moines — carry his name. His former mission is a national historic site.

His statue stands in the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., 9 feet of gleaming bronze on a 7-ton block of granite, depicting a muscular, buckskin-clad frontiersman with a ripped torso and linebacker thighs. He appears to be striding resolutely along an unbroken trail, one foot higher than the other, buckskin fringe and kerchief flying, a Bible in one hand, saddlebags and a scroll in the other. If the National Statuary Hall had a hunk contest, he’d be the winner, hands down.

Read entire article at Crosscut

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