From: Sister Zoa Braunwarth, OSF
Just recently we were reminded of the atrocities inflicted on our Native American brothers and sisters in the 1862 Dakota War here in Minnesota.
It is heartening to know that on Sunday, October 21, 2012, the first Native American, Kateri Tekakwitha, was canonized in Rome. This public honor is given to people who have lived exemplary lives according to the teaching and deeds of Jesus.
In 1656 Kateri was born in what is now upstate New York (Auriesville) into the Mohawk/Algonquin tribes. A smallpox epidemic caused the deaths of both her parents and brother. The disease left Kateri with impaired vision and facial scars. As a child she was cared for by the Mohawk clan.
Kateri became a Christian and according to the Jesuit missionary accounts she was very prayerful. Her non-Christian friends, tribal members, and relatives were her concern even though she suffered from them because of her Christianity. She was also a spiritual guide to friends. Examples of direct quotes from her and recorded by the priests: “Take courage despite the words of those who have no faith.” “Be assured that you are pleasing in the sight of God and that I shall help you when I am with Him.”
She was skilled at traditional women’s arts, making clothing and belts from animal skins, weaving mats, baskets, and boxes from reeds and grasses, and preparing food from game, crops and gathered produce.
Kateri died at age 24. Her gravestone in Auriesville, N.Y. reads:
Ownkeonweke Katsitsiio Teonsitsianekarn
The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red men.”