“Preserving, Protecting and Promoting the Dakota Culture for Future Generations”

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Birthplace Of Community 2011 James Anderson “Red Sky” Mdewakanton Mendota MN

The following text is auto generated and may contain some errors.

Where we are is in a little tone between Minneapolis and st. Paul comm Mendota but in the Dakota language it’s a lot more important than that it’s the adult a it’s where the rivers meet the Minnesota the Mississippi rivers come together right here

We don’t know how many thousands of years ago that the Creator put us here but this is where we were put right on pike island as our stories come from this is where our creation stories come from this is where our Genesis is this is our garden so there’s there’s very very sacred places here we have sacred Springs that are here we have sacred caves in st. Paul yeah all the bluffs along the river or we are at right now in Mendota are the highest points around and that’s where our people were buried a lot of them have been tugging up and a lot of the artifacts have been stolen and a lot of the land has been built on now but we know what this place is the airport’s three miles from here and they dug up thousands of burial mounds when they they built the airport they took all the artifacts and the remains to the University of Minnesota we know all these things we know what this place is and that’s why we have to continue to tell our story about what the place is most people don’t know the history of this area most people don’t know that what even Dakota means

It’s right across the river from where we are is a spring called cold water spring and the only Falls natural Falls that are on the river system which they call it laughing water but it’s really me me haha it’s rough turbulent water false is what it’s called and between the Falls and and that spring was a place where they would have what modern-day people would call a rendezvous in the one time of the year they get together there and people from all different nations would come by canoe and horseback in different ways most of them from on the water around here and and come there and before horses they had they walked and they would come with their packs and
everything and they would trade here they’d have ceremonies here there was an ancient villager to write by cold water spring that was the first this is where the first fire comes from of the whole Dakota or Lakota Dakota

so basically my grandmother it’s the native side is all on my mother’s side so my mother’s mother was wasn’t O’Shea Marcella oj and her grandfather was Joseph Corso and their other grandfather was Joseph Remy O’Shea Joseph Horsell was an Indian scout for general Sibley and Osito on his parents were actually Joe’s of course those parents are actually murdered up at Devil’s Lake when he was 14 and Henry Sibley took him in and raised him used him in the fur trading business Joseph Remy og who was again my grandmother’s father’s side was descended from the rebels
Joseph Remy oh she married Angeline Dupuy who was the daughter of Angela Grenville was the daughter of Joseph dreadmill my grandmother great-grandfather would have been be polite to tweet has the house up the road here

The French came here back in the 1600s but they didn’t come here here and take over everything and claim everything they came in here and started to marry with our people and and trade with them and brought different goods for them and and set up their trading posts and they had a pretty good relationship with our people for a long time but that all changed in 1805 when they signed the first treaty

Zebulon Pike the French sold the Louisiana Purchase I call him the French fencers too because they sold something that wasn’t there as they sold our lands from Mississippi West they sent Lewis and Clark out west will they sent Zebulon Pike up north to see what they had bought in this Louisiana Purchase and he came right to Mendota he came right to the Bedok Tay and on pipe island he talked to the seven Chiefs of the bidet what I’m too people about having land here for a military reservation to keep the settlers that were coming off our land we were called as the Dakotas around here the cup tears and those that lived around the fort because they built the fort where we were always lived you know it’s kind of difficult to say we were traitors or that we you know we went to live by the fort when they built the fort right where we always
with this kind broke out in 1862 Little Crow was approached by a lot of warriors and they said what’s going to happen we got to take our land back because in 19 or 1851 and they signed treaties given all of Minnesota away except for 10 miles on each side of the Minnesota River well on each side of that

Minnesota River is the best farmland in the country is Green Giants there now you know and I mean this is a valley that flooded out and that’s where they grew the crops so they encroached on that of course you know the settlers came in they’re like whoa why are we going to farm into rocks when we go down here in the valley and soon by 1862 our people couldn’t hunt anymore there was no more hunting for them because it was all private land and they couldn’t fish they couldn’t survive so there and they were surviving on the commodities that the government was supposed to give them 90% of the time when the money did come it was given right to the traders that were here because through the year they would give what they called credit to our people had inflated rates and everything else to keep them supplied with the food and everything else they need it was a very hard time during that that whole process of the government coming in and first you know in 1805 creating the treaty to try to what they said separate the native so they didn’t fight with each other and control control you know travel and trading so they that was that was the reason suppose they’re coming in.

I think it was to establish boundary boundaries because they didn’t have until they set down so today you’ve got this area the quarry you’ve got this area is that which that you say don’t care why don’t let me get treaty between you guys and now we know what you own and we know what you own and of course that led to the next thing which should be to treaty with them to get those labs you know so it was it was a way of getting the lands that they needed so many of our elders were involved in in the seceding in the ceded lands many of our elders were involved in fighting against keeping the lands so it was a very hard time in the mid 1800.

It was late August or mid August when the money was actually supposed to be coming on a train and the gold and the trainer’s and this one trader in particular down in Morton Minnesota told our people you’re not getting any more credit until we get our gold we get our money from the government he told them to eat shit in grass and the next day they in a warehouse because he had a warehouse full to give these provisions out in the spring by this time it was mid-august that some of it started rotting and everything else already them some of these provisions weren’t even any good but they fought him the next day with his throat cut his mouthful of grass and his warehouse was empty because the people were there with their elders and children and they were starving to death so this started what they call the uprising of 1862

They were marched the women and children from Morton Minnesota to Fort Snelling where they built a stockade and they put him in this stockade and all the Dakotas that were here all the Dakotas they could find were put into this stockade for that winter of 1862 to 63 and it was a bad winter and a lot of our relatives died and in the spring after they were put into the internment camps there were over 300 and some Dakotas that were put on trial right here at Fort Snelling and they had these little mock trials that lasted about five minutes apiece and if some would come and testify day they they found them guilty and they had over 300 men funk guilty and to hang and they said this list to Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln wanted a part of them all as what I had heard but because there was such an uproar because of all the people that were killed in Minnesota they wanted some heads they wanted heads to roll they wanted some more difficult is killed so Lincoln pardoned all but thirty eight and those 38 were here they were imprisoned at Fort Snelling then they were marched down to Mankato Minnesota and they built a gallows down there big enough to handle all 38 at one time December 26th 1862

They hung 38 Dakota’s at Mankato was the largest mass execution in the history of this country and maybe the world as a hanging goes at one time
my relatives were let to stay in Minnesota when all the rest of the Dakotas were were exiled Sibley who was a general at the time and he was the one that condemned most of our people to death but our relatives worked with a Sibley or simply kind of controlled them and and housed them and he took all the land around here all this land around the dome but he kept ten acres up on the hill here it’s called Sibley’s Indian homes and what he did is he because uh act of Congress of 1863 most of my relatives had already been farmer Indians like I said where the cut hairs were going to the church here already and doing those things
an act of Congress of 1863 promised lands and money to our people to start over again

Well that land and money never came so they were up here on this land and Sibley correspondant back and forth with Washington because he was getting tired of paying for it himself so he wanted money he wanted compensation from the government for these people and the monies that was promised through that act of 1863 and it never came our people lived up here in squalor I still I have pictures of our relatives living here honored years ago in teepees isn’t that that long ago
we weren’t raised Nick native at all my mother would talk about she said we’re related to a great chief but we never knew who he was I’d say mother who is that she’d say she didn’t know me no no it’s it’s Little Crow she didn’t talk about the Indian side of her at all because when she lived out Shakopee her father farmed over half of Shakopee in the 40s late 30s early 40s and

grandmother had a place here in Mendota so they went back and forth and back and forth from the farm her grandfather farmed in the house that grandmother had here in Mendota and it just wasn’t talked about much my mother said she was treated horribly when she went to school then it was called the Prairie I prior Lake Indian community and they were treated very badly so grandmother made them stay basically here in Mendota and go to school you know I talked to my dad a lot but both Mendota and the things that went on here

and as I was growing up he would never never talk about it he never talked about it his father his mother I’d never been his mother or grandmother or my grandmother or grandfather my grandfather passed away when he was probably probably in his early federal right rumors 50s or so using a car accident know if anybody mentioned that before about what happened with him he was living down on the shakopee on the reservation even with my dad and my grandfather and he was in a car accident while he was living down there and he was taken to the hospital in Shakopee and was refused treatment because he was an Indian

they told him that they don’t take his kind there and he had to take him to an Indian hospital the closest Indian hospital was the Pipestone so they had to take the drive send the ambulance from Pipestone up to Shakopee where my dad was pick him up and take him all the way back down there and they wouldn’t even treat him because he was Indian he ended up dying probably about three weeks later they may say it was from pneumonia but I feel it was probably from injuries he had internal bleeding and compound fractures and things from the car 

accident grandmother my grandmother my aunt my uncle’s were forced to go to Pipestone Indian school and there were kids in the early 1900s and one of my great uncle’s died there you know they were taught really not they were trying to get rid of the Indian in these people and so in order to protect their children’s children a lot of them they didn’t do anything you didn’t pass anything on they didn’t because people were punished for carried on those things so when I was growing up I knew very little about 

my Dakota side policy of the United States government in the late 1800s was to save a child kill the Indian and they rounded up and they kidnapped our children for I don’t know almost 80 years they would come and take him away at five years old take them to boarding schools which were nothing but concentration camps and teach them English and cut their hair and put uniforms on them and make them do all these menial tasks to keep these damp places running and I’m not making this stuff up you can look at any website and 

any Historical Society in this country has the same pictures has the same story that all of our people were put into boarding schools in and we’re trying to live through those kind of things still today my grandmother Lillian Felix was a sent off to boarding school she went down to Pennsylvania Carlisle the boarding school and she was pretty much taken away from her family went out there and had to work out there during the summer when she wasn’t in school my understanding was she wasn’t able to
do any of the native ceremonies she wasn’t able to speak the language they told her that she had to live like a white person I guess we’d say wasn’t able to do any of the things that she was able to do before I think 

she’s from systems in South Dakota and she actually had land out there at one time and I know that she sold her land to buy a house here in Mendota and the house that she bothers just right down
just down the hill at all that in talking with my grandmother my aunt they knew things but they didn’t pass it on I interviewed them both my grandmother and my aunt in 1985 and videotaped and my aunt Louisa talked about all this property that was stolen from us and whatnot but she would stop it who knows she said and she’d say things like hey you know Taku you know what

that’s a dakota word means what and she would throw little things in there of the dakota language you know i’d never heard it before she never talked about never talked I never knew tow years after they were getting gone that they even had gotten the pipe still hidden in school and that their brother died there it was very 

painful for them he didn’t want to talk about things that feel bad when I see other people dancing I mean I feel good I see other people dancing with their grandmothers and mother and aunties
but I never had that and I didn’t get the opportunity to do that so that’s one thing I’ve kind of always missed so I make it up now by going out and dancing in what the other elders and the other families but I kinda always wonder what we’ve been like had I been out to dance with my mother and my aunties and my grandmother I used to go down to Shakopee with my dad he had two friends that live down there that were kids when he was living there that was Norman Brooks and his brother his brothers name is but we used to 

go down and see those guys and just visit with them and they were living down there and just little shacks at the time yeah it must have been probably in the 60s sometime Norman had called my dad and my brother and asked him to come down said he wanted to meet with them and they went down and he told them that you’d give me CH 5 acres of land he wanted them to move back down on the reservation and because big time bingo was coming and my daddy had a house here in Minneapolis and his brother had one of the st. Paul they both had full-time jobs and moving down there would have been selling their houses and taking a chance you know they said that you know though nobody’s gonna ever go down there and play bingo down the middle of nowhere

so they both you know turned it down and then like I said in the 60s when they said they were gonna open enrollment they bought like 200 acres or something like that and they want to bring in 500 more members or something like that and at that time we went down and we talked to him and we met with a gal named Susan Tilton Hagen who was the enrollment chairman and as I sat and talked with her I brought a a genealogy of my family and I handed it to her and it showed she and I had the same great-grandmother she says well this is pretty interesting and I said

she told me that she says we have the same great-grandmother we just came down through different lines and she says she brought out a book it was their charter membership and she said if your name is in this book you will be accepted we applied Sharon and I am all my cousins
I started looking through the book and I saw my grandfather and my grandmother Felix and William they’re not Felix but Albert and I showed it to Sharon and I says here look they turned it around and they showed it to a Susan and I said this is our grandfather and her
grandmother and she says well then you will be accepted and six months later I went back down and asked her I says you know what’s going on I haven’t heard anything she says you weren’t accepted and I says well why is that

and she was what your name is not in the book nicest sure it is I showed it to you my grandfather and my grandmother both in that book and she goes well you must have made a mistake and she pulling the book up and handed it to me and I looked through the book and sure enough it wasn’t in there anymore a lot of our relatives were just scattered to wherever they they could live some statement notice um went around the Twin City areas so our basic we have stayed in touch with each other would be through either
baptisms weddings going to different lakes where people were getting together at family functions searches some of the area some of the people lived in this area so they continued one of the church were involved in the city and how the city ran the but over the course of the years of course if people started moving out and further out and we were losing touch with that trying to say is the gap between my grandmother and myself is a wide gap on the Dakota side and what we’ve tried to do is by bringing people back together is to revive I call it the rebirth
to community because it really that has been I mean since we’ve come together we’ve had language ongoing language classes code for class and we have a neat be in the back here sweat lodge which we had many ceremonies

that yet hot Nadar waves of First Nations people for a hundred years ago no they what happened here put people on the reservations concentration caste they put people in prisons and that we your 48 mm bah it’s not that it’s really not good to talk about this but we still have to talk about what happened to our relatives that they looked around relative this man the secret man here this is a very secret man this is where the Creator put us this is where our stories of great where the rivers meet over this island is the seven stars of Orion we came from

Oh Chet they shot go into seven players this is our garden to beat this is our place of our Genesis but it was also a place of art they tried to make it a place of our genocide they tried to eradicate our people there’s still a federal law that is reputable there’s still a federal law that’s out there that they haven’t changed but we’re still here we’re not we’re not the exact people that were here at one time but their blood runs through my veins sample told us and the four colors that must have to come together and pray together and we have saved the earth for our future generations babies otherwise there’s not going to be this could be the last carrier of the bundle but people are starting to wake up to this idea they’re starting to finally realize global 

warming here at this to get really mad Baba’s back what she’s doing she’s flooding and hurting
when we went down we told we wanted to become part of their members they just told us to go form your own group and that’s what they did Bobby and Sharon and Michael and Jim Anderson they got together and started meeting out with Bobby Tolleson just start growing their I should mention is my brother Bob when she I could be turned us away we started having meetings at his house and then we finally got an office behind the Mendota post office and then we got just one side of the mentor office post office in the back and then we got the front side of the post office I’m just the one side and then from there we went across the street and we had half of that liquor store which we didn’t like but it was a bigger office liquor store left 

and then we had that whole entire area which was really nice we’re there at two or three years and then he moved over here which was nice because I’m in a kitchen and we could make fry bread and you know we’ve had many many different events here we have a weekly Dakotan language class that is the longest-running language class in Minnesota so far but we are the keepers of the Eastgate we are the east gate keepers we are the center of the world people and I just like people to start to understand why we have put up the fights we have to protect these sacred sites we protect a cold water spring we’ve spent 17 months in teepees fighting to keep that spring alive there’s a hundred thousand gallons of drinking water a day comes out of the ground there they wanted to destroy for a road Pilot Knob Hillier where our Chiefs have been buried where the Treaty of 1851 was signed we protected that from development from them developing 

condominiums five hundred thousand dollar condos they wanted to put up the hill because it had a nice view of the cities but and we’re fighting now for our own little place in Mendota we’re not going to leave here where we have established ourselves now in a good way as good people do good things and we blow up the dark community to everyone find our native ways first thing I wanted to do was dance know what to do determine I was going to my sister Bev and I and my nephew made me my first regalia and he also made a regalia for his mother and so when we were out there dancing for the first time right can I speak for me
it was so emotional to be in regalia and out there dancing and it was just incredible I mean I can’t even tell you what it felt like for the first time and I don’t like chronic pain but it seems like when I’m out there in the 

circle and I don’t even feel any pain and it’s awesome and I see a lot of Native women who still don’t dance for whatever reason so I’ve been talking to a lot of them a lot of them are just I enjoy working with the community doing the things we do fighting for sacred sites remember in the traditions you really enjoy the pow wows over here we have a Anani thiol nu backyard here where we do sweat lodges and I’ve come to meet a lot of people know a lot of people just a lot of people in the Native community that if become involved with us and a lot of non-native people who are involved with us and I just enjoy what I’m doing right now other reason why we need together so that

as a group we can help preserve and protect and promote things like that since then you know we’ve had many colleges schools teachers come in open-door policy and a say can you do this for us you know someone remembers we will speak at different things present things you know it just it’s a way of it’s not just us it’s the people that come in the store whether they’re native or non-native is helping to preserve protect and promote the dakota way the presence we have in Mendota we feel is very important and we may lose that because we moved 

around several times in this town because of lack of money and funding that’s getting twenty five dollars a week for about six months now I’m getting fifty a week so I’m not doing this for the money that’s for sure but yeah so there’s just no money you know and it’d be nice I’ve always been told if we got federal recognition you know there’d be people out there to help us you know get grants for other grants so maybe each person who works here could be paid a paid staff would be nicely you know 

it was an important thing not only for us but it’s important for all people because once the language is dead and the cultures did that perspective of the world is gone too and and that’s what’s important you know to understand that you just have to listen to an elder speak sometime they speak in a totally different way than Europeans do Europeans talk down to you Dakota elders talk kind of mmm like like with you I’m pleased to be here thank you for I’m honored that you would

you know allow a lowly person like me to speak in front of you and I’m just honored that you would have that thought to have me come here and I should give you a gift for that yep and I believe in the prophecies of the four colours of man of the Buffalo Calf woman that we need the four colors of man to come together to protect the earth for our future generations so we we aren’t prejudiced against the four colors of man we’re 

not we’re not saying the Indians are the only way you can survive we’re not saying the Indian ways we don’t care how you interpret the Creator we know us we know what it is we don’t believe in a heaven or hell we believe in a spirit world what you get here what you’ve done in your life have you treated your elders and your children and and how you treated Mother Earth is what you’ll get in the spirit world and we firmly believe that

Sharon Lennartson and the Faribault Dakota Project

Jeff Jarvis Faribault Dakota Project Mendota Dakota Sharon Lennartson Mdewakanton

Sharon Lennartson, tribal headwoman of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, exploded with joy when she learned of the Faribault Dakota Project in the works.

“I yelled and screamed to my boys, “Somebody’s finally going to listen,’” Lennartson recalls. I wanted every bit to be a part of it.”

In partnership with the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission, Rice County Historical Society, Faribault Mural Society and Santee Sioux Nation, the Mendota Dakota Community will offer historical insight to a project that will honor the Dakotas’ impact on Faribault’s early years.

Jeff Jarvis, a Faribault artist, designer and historian, connected with Lennartson after taking the lead on the project.

The idea for the memorial began several months ago when the commission became aware of a hand-drawn map that illustrated where Native Americans had lived on city namesake Alexander Faribault’s property after the Dakota Uprising. Faribault and Bishop Henry Whipple both wanted to protect the Dakota, who had helped Minnesota settlers during the U.S.-Dakota War, from being banished from the state.

Although the HPC initially envisioned land near the River Bend Nature Center as the location for the Faribault Dakota memorial, the new options include Peace Park, the Buckham Memorial Library Plaza and Heritage Park. The project is expected to begin in 2021.

Jarvis plans to combine written word, artwork and photography to depict the story of the Faribault Dakota on a three-panel interpretive sign. The panels will provide backstory of the Faribault Dakota community, including a history of the Wahpekute, partnerships that supported Native Americans in Faribault, maps, timelines, photos of tribe leader and Dakota verbiage with English translations.

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Sharon Lennartson, tribal headwoman of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, exploded with joy when she learned of the Faribault Dakota Project in the works.

“I yelled and screamed to my boys, “Somebody’s finally going to listen,’” Lennartson recalls. I wanted every bit to be a part of it.”

In partnership with the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission, Rice County Historical Society, Faribault Mural Society and Santee Sioux Nation, the Mendota Dakota Community will offer historical insight to a project that will honor the Dakotas’ impact on Faribault’s early years.

Jeff Jarvis, a Faribault artist, designer and historian, connected with Lennartson after taking the lead on the project.

The idea for the memorial began several months ago when the commission became aware of a hand-drawn map that illustrated where Native Americans had lived on city namesake Alexander Faribault’s property after the Dakota Uprising. Faribault and Bishop Henry Whipple both wanted to protect the Dakota, who had helped Minnesota settlers during the U.S.-Dakota War, from being banished from the state.

Although the HPC initially envisioned land near the River Bend Nature Center as the location for the Faribault Dakota memorial, the new options include Peace Park, the Buckham Memorial Library Plaza and Heritage Park. The project is expected to begin in 2021.

Jarvis plans to combine written word, artwork and photography to depict the story of the Faribault Dakota on a three-panel interpretive sign. The panels will provide backstory of the Faribault Dakota community, including a history of the Wahpekute, partnerships that supported Native Americans in Faribault, maps, timelines, photos of tribe leader and Dakota verbiage with English translations.

“That was the first time any of us at the office had seen [the map],” Lennartson said.

One of the houses on the map is labeled “LeClair,” which could refer to Lennartson’s great-grandfather, Wakon LeClair, who was Alexander Faribault’s helper. Lennartson explained “Wakon” means “holy,” and her great-grandfather was a medicine man or spiritual advisor. Her family tree also contains Faribaults and a common ancestor with Chief Little Crow, acclaimed leader of the Mdewakanton from 1846 to 1863.

Thinking about the project and what it means to have her people recognized, Lennartson recalls the tragic stories of her late grandparents, Lily and Albert LeClair. Her grandmother died at her Mendota home after the medical staff at a hospital failed to take proper care of her, and her grandfather, who broke his back in a car accident on the reservation, was turned away by another hospital because he was a Native American. He suffered for months because the hospital that did take him in didn’t have the proper medical equipment to treat his broken back, and Lennartson said he “died of a broken heart.”

Lennartson herself was not raised Native, but she and other Mdewakanton descendants started the Mendota Dakota Community nearly 25 years ago to return to their roots. Other members of the tribal council will have opportunities to share their input for the Faribault Dakota Project, and so will members of the Santee Sioux Nation and Lower Sioux Agency.

The Mendota Dakota people have been in Minnesota for thousands of years, Lennartson said, and Dakota ancestors and descendants have been in Mendota for over 130 years. She and the others in the Mendota Dakota community are related to Chief Cetanwakanmani, Chief Taoyatwduta from the 1862 war, and Chief Wabasha as well as Agathe Winona Red Woman Angelique DuPuis Renville and Mazasnawin Iron Woman Rosalie Freniere. Some of their ancestors are from Little Crow’s village, Kaposia.

“This is about as happy as I’ve ever been,” Lennartson said of the announcement of the Faribault Dakota Project. “It’s time … Just to know that different families are recognized and not forgotten — they’ll never be forgotten.”

This story written by MISTY SCHWAB misty.schwab@apgsomn.com

Sharon Lennartson Dakota Project Aug 2020 Mdewakanton Mendota.jpg

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as Lily of the Mohawks was born 1656 and died April 17, 1680

She is a Catholic saint who was an Algonquin–Mohawk laywoman. Born in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, on the south side of the Mohawk River in present-day New York State, she contracted smallpox in an epidemic; her family died and her face was scarred. She converted to Catholicism at age nineteen, when she was renamed Kateri, and baptized in honor of Catherine of Siena. Refusing to marry, she left her village and moved for the remaining five years of her life to the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River in New France, now Canada.

Tekakwitha took a vow of perpetual virginity. Upon her death at the age of 24, witnesses said that minutes later her scars vanished and her face appeared radiant and beautiful. Known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by some of her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is often praised as the first Native American saint, but what is more remarkable is just how quickly she achieved sanctity. Normally sainthood is the process of twenty, thirty even forty years and yet, within four years of her baptism, St. Kateri had become a saint. What was the secret to sanctity that had St. Kateri found?

St. Kateri was born to a Christian mother of the Algonquin tribe and to a non-Christian father of the Mohawks. In 1660, when she was four, she tragically lost both of her parents and her little brother in a small pox epidemic. Although she survived smallpox herself, her eyesight was forever impaired and her face was scarred. She would later thank God for this, regarding it as a special grace that, receiving little attention, she was left to devote herself more freely to God.

Although St. Kateri’s mother had died before Kateri could be baptized, her good mother died ardently praying that God would provide for her child. St. Kateri was then raised by an uncle, the chief of the Turtle Clan, who was very wary of Christians and often opposed to them. However, there was some friendly contact with missionaries and at age 18 she started receiving instructions in the faith. Finally, her uncle reluctantly consented to her conversion and on Easter Sunday in 1676, she was baptized, taking the name Kateri, after St. Catherine of Siena.

Although her uncle allowed her to convert, St. Kateri still had to face the hostility of her own tribe and she suffered greatly from them. They simply could not understand why she refused to work on Sundays, but since she would not work on Sundays, she would not eat on Sundays. They would regularly hide all the food and leave her with nothing. Some would throw stones at her and insult her she would walk to the chapel. On one occasion, her uncle even sent a warrior to frighten her, as he pretended to attack her with a hatchet.

Eventually, St. Kateri began to fear for her life and fled to the mission of St. Francis Xavier, two hundred miles north, in Canada. Her village priest instructed her to deliver a letter for him, and when the missionaries at St. Francis Xavier opened it, the letter read, “I am sending you a treasure, guard it well!”

At the mission in Canada, her fellow Christians were devout, but St. Kateri soon distinguished herself by her great fervor, particularly in her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Her great love for the Blessed Sacrament was largely responsible for her swift rise to sanctity. St. Kateri attended two masses every day and she was always the first one at the chapel. Arriving at four in the morning, she would stand outside and pray until the chapel opened, even during the winter. She would visit the Blessed Sacrament several times per day and would always be the last one to leave at night.

The fruit of her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament led St. Kateri to have a great purity of heart. “Her chastity was the most beautiful flower in her crown,” said her first biographer, Fr. Claude Chauchetière (source #5). She preserved such extraordinary purity through constant mortification of the senses and through devotion to the Blessed Virgin. On the feast of the Annunciation in 1679, St. Kateri joyfully made a private vow of perpetual virginity and asked Mary to accept her as a daughter.

Only a year after making her vow, she became extremely ill, possibly having caught pneumonia. On April 17, during Holy Week, St. Kateri Tekakwitha passed away at age 23. Those who assisted at her death were privileged to witness a miracle, the first of many that would be attributed to her. Although St. Kateri’s face had been marked by smallpox her whole life, as her soul ascended to its heavenly glory, her skin became clear and radiant. With the apostle St. Paul, she could truly exclaim, “I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

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