I know a great many people---many whom I care about---that are in Rome for the canonization. As I search the news media for stories about it, I'm disappointed in the ways in which stereotypes of American Indians are part of this moment. There's this photo:
Compare it to this photo, from the same news gallery.
The difference is notable, and it makes me wonder who the nun is, where she got that headdress, and why she wanted to wear it. (The source for both photos is The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2012/oct/21/1020_kateri/)
NBC's coverage includes this line:
And yet, at the age of 20, Kateri swapped the Totem for the Crucifix.I wonder what that reporter means by "Totem"? Sadly, Tekakwitha's canonization is being used as another opportunity to dress up like Indians:
The date of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization is going to be October 21, 2012! (Yay!) The cool thing about soon-to-be-Saint Kateri is that she was Native American. This opens up all kinds of crafting possibilities! Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s feast day is July 14. We made some fun, Native American dress up crafts to celebrate St. Kateri’s canonization with my kids!
Here's the photo directly beneath that paragraph:
There's no excuse for the NBC reporter's comment. I do not know what to think about the nun in the headdress. The Catholics-playing-Indian activities are well-intentioned, but ignorant and ought to be set aside. As a society, we need not do these sorts of activities. We see it a lot in the context of "Indian" mascots for sports teams. There's a lot more awareness of stereotyping in that context, and a lot of schools have abandoned those stereotypical mascots. That same awareness--apparently--needs to be developed amongst Catholics who dress their kids up in stereotypical attire to be "Saint Kateri."
Update, Sunday Oct 21, 2012
Native news media coverage of the canonization:
Turtle Island Indigenous Flock to Vatican to Witness Canonization, Indian Country Today
Chicago Delegation Joins Thousands of American Indians for Canonization, Native News Network