Abstract

Abstract:

The extraordinarily well-documented life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha and the “afterlives” of her physical remains are analyzed through the theoretical lens of a “political ecology of healing”—a framework emphasizing the interplay of ecosystems and decolonial praxis within historically colonized spaces. Investigating Indigenous political ecologies from the colonial archives of New France recovers the ways Native women maintained sovereign communities in their riverine homelands in an era of climate change, colonial invasion, and internecine violence during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Placing Indigenous women, their kinship networks, and their relationship with their ancestral lands at the center of decolonial history shows how Native communities along Kaniatarowanenneh—the St. Lawrence River— represented sites of Native resilience and regeneration rather than decline and dependence. Native women established a syncretistic religion devoted to Kateri’s memory that mapped Catholic rituals on traditional Indigenous ecological knowledge and practices. This Indigenous spirituality remained distinct from the devotional cult European American colonizers erected around Kateri, and it persisted after settlers forgot her. After more than three centuries, Kateri’s bones remain at Kahnawá:ke Mohawk Territory as a testimony to an unbroken history of Indigenous power, presence, and care for the land. Contemporary Indigenous movements for sovereignty, self-determination, and environmental justice have their origins in the political ecology of healing embodied by Kateri’s bones.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2332-127X
Print ISSN
2332-1261
Pages
pp. 55-86
Launched on MUSE
2020-09-18
Open Access
No
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