In 1831, three members of the Nez Perces tribe and one Flathead Indian journeyed to St. Louis to learn about the white man and his religion.
William Walker, a half-breed Wyandotte, an educated man who had been converted to Christianity wrote a letter to a New York business man who was interested in establishing Christian missions among the Indians. The letter was published in a newspaper, generating an almost immediate response.
Northwest missions developed in Oregon after interest from Native Americans about Christianity and the desire of missionaries to convert the Native Americans in the 1830s and 1840s; Methodist, Presbyterian, and Catholic missionaries traveled to Oregon.
The Methodist Mission was led by Jason Lee, establishing a mission in Oregon in 1834. Jason Lee was determined to see the mission through. He raised contributions totaling $100,000, and recruited 51 people to join forces with him at the Mission on the Willamette River.
Dr. Marcus Whitman began investigating establishing a Presbyterian Mission in Oregon around 1835. He made a trip to Oregon in the company of a fur trading expedition to talk to the Indians. He raised the funds for supplies the same year and then set out with his wife Narcissa Whitman, Rev. Henry Spalding and his wife Eliza, as well as several hired hands. In September, 1836 the party reached Fort Vancouver, and scouted the region for a site for the mission. They decided to establish two missions. Whitman established his mission near the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu and Spalding established his near the Nez Perce at Lapwai.
Whitman returned to the east in the winter of 1842, to publicized opportunities available in Oregon Country. As the preceding years brought more trains and settlers, disease began to decimate the tribes. In 1847, after rising tensions with the Cayuse Indians, Whitman and Narcissa were killed in a massacre that left many dead.
Source: Northwest Missionaries
Stephenie Flora, oregonpioneers.com