Meet Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680). She is Mohawk and Algonquin. She is also the first North American Indian be canonized by the Catholic Church. She is the fourth Native American to become a saint, having been preceded by three central American natives. You might think that is what makes her uncommon, or might have thought it unusual that I am taking time to plug a Catholic saint (which is certainly an uncommon thing for me to do), and fair enough on both points.
What really interests me here is Kateri’s attire. Standing as she is here in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, I can’t tell if her attire is fitting or not. You see, she appears to be dressed as Pueblo, which is a little bit unusual (perhaps not fitting) for a Mohawk woman. How did she get so dressed? It might have something to do with the fact that Kateri’s sculptor in this instance was Estella Loretto of Jemez, which would make her attire fitting after all.
Of course, for some of us ‘odd’ is good proxy for ‘interesting’.
Tekakwitha is portrayed in Iroquois dress inside the Cathedral itself. I would hardly have noticed that this was the same woman, and I have to thank my friend John for pointing this out to me. Just what to make of the changes in dress, I’m not entirely sure. A visit to a Catholic Church is certainly an uncommon experience for me.
In any event, it is a beautiful sculpture.