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From The University of North Carolina Press
Oregon and the Collapse of Illahee
U.S. Empire and the Transformation of an Indigenous World, 1792-1859
By Gray H. Whaley
336 pp. / 6.125 x 9.25 / June 2010
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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

"Few states in our nation possess an indigenous history that is as violent and under-studied as Oregon's nineteenth-century past. Oregon and the Collapse of 'Illahee' redresses such absence and oversight, powerfully exhibiting the centrality of Chinook and confederated Oregon Indian tribes to the making of the region's settler societies. Readers may be particularly interested in the sobering chapters on the brutal wars of the 1850s and by the book's wonderfully rendered conclusion. An important study of long-neglected subjects that should be essential reading in as well as out of the region."
— Ned Blackhawk, Yale University

"Gray H. Whaley's impressive and ambitious study of the U.S. presence in the Lower Columbia River region and the impact of that colonialism on the Indians living there firmly places the Pacific Northwest into the broader story of U.S. empire. With great skill the author considers the role of merchants, missionaries, settlers, and diverse Indian communities over a period of sixty years of profound change, showing how "westward expansion" was part of a larger imperial project."
— Evan Lampe,

"In this sound analysis of Indian-white relations in Oregon, the author clearly presents the significant regional issues and effectively integrates them into the broad national patterns."
— Roger L. Nichols, University of Arizona, author of Natives and Strangers: A History of Ethnic Americans
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."

About Gray H. Whaley

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

First Peoples books are part of a special publishing initiative among four scholarly presses, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. Books with the logo exemplify contemporary scholarship and research in Indigenous studies. The initiative supports this scholarship with unprecedented attention to the growing dialogue among scholars, communities, and publishers.