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Our Heritage - Tobique Maliseet First Nation

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Madawaska Maliseet First Nation

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ARX Publishing - Kateri Tekakwitha

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Saint Kateri Tekakwitha - A child of Nature

Tobique Maliseet First Nation Peoples

 Before the arrival of the first Acadian settlers in about 1784, the Upper St.John River valley was home to Native Peoples, in particular to the Wulustukieg or Maliseet (Malécite) Nation, a branch of the Algonquin peoples.  The very name Madawaska is from the Maliseet's Algonquin language: "madawes"—porcupine, "kak"—place.

The Maliseet's name for themselves, Wolastoqiyik, or Wulustukieg, is derived from the word wolastoq, which means "beautiful river." Wolastoq (Wulustuk, or anglicized, Walloostook) is the Maliseet name for the St.John River.

The Wulustukieg or Maliseet people thus call themselves the people of the St.John River, which shows the extent to which they identify with this region.

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In Her Footsteps: St. Kateri Tekakwitha  (Click to Play)

About Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

    Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) is honored as the Patron of people who love nature, work in ecology, and work to preserve the natural and human environments.  She is the first Native North American saint.

    Kateri's baptismal name is Catherine, which in the Iroquois languages is Kateri.  Kateri's Iroquois name can be translated as, "One who places things in order" or “To put all into place.”  Other translations include, "she pushes with her hands" and "who walks groping for her way" (because of her faulty eyesight).

    At the age of four, smallpox attacked Kateri's village, taking the lives of her parents and baby brother, and leaving Kateri an orphan.  Although forever weakened, scarred, and partially blind, Tekakwitha survived. The brightness of the sun blinded her and she would feel her way around as she walked.

    Kateri grew into a young woman with a sweet, shy personality.  She helped her aunts work in the fields where they tended to the corn, beans, and squash, and took care of the traditional longhouse in which they lived.  She went to the neighboring forest to pick the roots needed to prepare medicines and dye.  She collected firewood in the forest and water from a stream.  Despite her poor vision, she also became very skilled at beadwork.

    Although Kateri was not baptized as an infant, she had fond memories of her good and prayerful mother and of the stories of Catholic faith that her mother shared with her in childhood.  These remained indelibly impressed upon her mind and heart and were to give shape and direction to her life's destiny.  She often went to the woods alone to speak to God and listen to Him in her heart and in the voice of nature.

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