In the second half of the 1800s, The United States turns her attention to the demands of Manifest Destiny, which include killing or containing the tribal people of the Northwest and establishing a transcontinental Anglo nation.
Among the last tribes impacted are those in the Columbia River Valley and on the Columbia Plateau, in an area now comprised of eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and western Idaho. The tribes there, as elsewhere, are subjected to a practice known to the Indians as The Gun and The Cross, wherein survivors of the former are ultimately destroyed by the latter.
At the same time, three major social movements sweep across the land in reaction to the ascent of the Anglo-Americans. These are the Peyote Church, the Ghost Dance Movement, and Washani the last being the least known and which has both religious and secular followers.
The latter two movements are restoration movements, wherein a ripple in time and space will occur, swallowing the White people and returning the dead Indians and all the slaughtered animals, restoring the continent to how it was before the arrival of the Europeans.
The spiritual leader of Washani is a shaman and prophet of the Wanapum tribe named Smoholla, 1813-1895 (the subject of Smoholla Dreaming, nonfiction, same writer, already written and hopefully coming soon). His following grows and his philosophical influence on the resistance of other tribes becomes enormous. One of these many tribes is the Yakima, of eastern Washington, and this tribe is one of two featured in the story.
Among the Yakima is a great leader named Kamiakin, who is a secular follower of Smoholla, and he differs with the prophet on the issue of depending on the Great Spirit to rid them of the White people.
Kamiakin sees their only hope is to start killing the invaders right now, before there are too many, and not to stop until there are no more; which could have worked pretty well in a tribal conflict, but this new foe is something no one on this continent has seen before a vast, consolidated, rapidly growing and seemingly inexhaustible nation. What ensues is named by the victors as the Yakima Wars, 1855-1859.
James Wilbur grows up in Upstate New York, the son of a Presbyterian minister. Most, it not all, of our founding fathers were Presbyterians. Princeton University was founded by Presbyterians. James is raised subject to his fathers dual assumptions that God is a Presbyterian and Methodism is a lesser religion.
To outsiders, the difference between Methodism and Presbyterianism is like the difference between Minnesota and Manitoba; but there are some issues between them, especially concerning evangelism, which most Presbyterians hold in low regard and many Methodists of the day consider an integral part of religious practice.
Naturally, when James eventually finds his way, it is to what his father considers the Devils trifecta: Methodism, the Methodist ministry and missionary work.
James Harvey Wilbur marries Lucretia Ann Stebens on 3/9/1831, and they begin their married life at the same and tender age of nineteen. They have a daughter named Ann, and James drifts into Methodism, which takes them from Upstate New York to New York City and the general offices of that church.
Lucretia Wilbur is not a church-chosen partner for James. She rolls her own cigarettes, is partial to good whiskey and is a plain-talking freethinker. However, there arent many volunteers beating down the church doors looking for missions, so this little family is eventually sent west by ship to build the first church in Portland, Oregon, and to tend to that flock.
Thirty years go by. Ann grows up, marries and later dies of influenza. The Wilburs are both then forty-nine. Instead of retiring and going back east, like normal people, they head to the Columbia Plateau and begin a new life with the Yakima.