Kelli Mosteller in Native Currents. Discussion »
SHAWNEE, OKLAHOMA While the official ceremony took place in Rome, many Catholic communities with large American Indian populations around the country celebrated the event in their own way.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation Women's Hand Drum Group
Nine individuals from Dewegen Kwek, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Women's Hand Drum Group, participated in a special ceremony held in the cafeteria of St. Gregory's University because of inclement weather. Father Nicholas Ast introduced the group and read the statement given by Pope Benedict XVI during the official canonization.
The women sang a variety of water and healing songs to honor Kateri's life as a devout Native woman and a healer. Gwen Pellegrino, a St. Gregory's University student and Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member helped organize the event. She remarked that,
“St. Gregory's is very interested in fostering intercultural communication and we were eager to seek some entertainment and the ability to recognize Kateri's canonization. Of course the Citizen Potawatomi women's drum group was the obvious choice.”
Immediately following the ceremony the group placed lilies at the foot of Kateri's statue on campus.
Kateri, known as "Lily of the Mohawks," was born in 1656 in the Mohawk Valley of present-day New York. Exposed to Catholicism at an early age by her mother, Kateri was baptized and committed her life to the faith at the age of twenty. After a short but fervent life dedicated to prayer and carrying for the sick and the aged, Kateri died at age twenty four. Though some people have mixed emotions about her story and the legacy of Catholic missionary work among Native Americans, many Catholic Native Americans are thrilled about Kateri's inclusion, something they have been waiting years to see.
Kelli Mosteller, the director of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She is a tribal member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
posted October 24, 2012 10:20 am edt