Today’s vaguely Thanksgiving-themed post is about Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk convert to Catholicism from the late 1600s. Last month, she became the first North American native to be canonized by the Catholic Church. She’s being treated as a patron saint for ecology, which was predictable in a politically uncomfortable way (i.e., it reinforces the “noble savage”-ish image of Native Americans as people who are specially in tune with nature. The fact that some Native Americans have latched onto this image as a way of asserting their cultural superiority over the modern West in the post-1960s era complicates the politics of that image but doesn’t make it less problematic).
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Model Ecologist (Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center)
National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine (the excavated village of Caughnawaga, in present-day New York, where Tekakwitha was baptized. She subsequently moved to a Catholic mission in present-day Quebec)
Photos of Tekakwitha’s canonization at the Vatican (from which the–again, uncomfortable–photo below is taken)