St. Kateri Tekakwitha

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).

Kateri Tekakwitha: First Catholic Native American saint (BBC News)

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)

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One thought on “St. Kateri Tekakwitha

  1. Squatch84 says:

    I’m not sure why that photo *necessarily* evokes discomfort. Perhaps the sister pictured is of Native American heritage herself. If you knew that she wasn’t, and was simply dressing up, then I could understand where you’re coming from.

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