[Relique/ Relic ID # 655-1483]

cube2Relique/ Relic ID # 655-1483

Classification: Second class relic

Source: Originally unearthed in the geographical area of the Laurentien/Adirondack/Appalachian valley system which traditionally (pre-colonial) functioned as trade/hunting routes for Mohawk, Iroquois, Abenakis, Hurons-Wendat, Cree, Montagnais, Atikamekw, Algonquin and other tribes. Was part of the collection of small relics housed at the National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha shrine in Fonda, New York, USA. Believed to have slowly made a secret pilgrimage north along the Appalachian valley passage to an area outside of Montréal, Canada. Donated to and retained for scientific research purposes at our lab until March 2014.

Description: Partial mandible of a young equine said to have once belonged to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656 – April 17, 1680), Algonquin-Mohawk – also known as “Lily of the Mohawks”.

*Please see the Specimen Gallery for correlating images of the artifact.

Biological/Forensic Inquiry (Osteobiography): A high concentration of K3L and E3L proteins found in the specimen indicates the possible presence of the Vaccinia virus or what is believed to have originally been “horsepox” (though incomplete scientific records have lost conclusive evidence of actual origin of the virus). Additionally, moderate myelitis correlates with genetic indications of Vaccinia. Resulting pathology: Within a reasonable scientific certainty, it can be established that the equine spread the Vaccinia virus to its owner, Kateri, who suffered symptoms thought to be smallpox (Vaccinia affects humans similarly to a mild form of smallpox). Healing properties of Vaccinia are linked to the invention of the vaccine in 1798 (after Kateri’s time), originally developed from this similar virus. This suggests the possibility that natural inoculation against the smallpox virus would have occurred through close contact with the infected animal. Vaccinia is one of the most complicated viruses known, with some 100 genes which give instructions for key parts of the human immune system.

Details: MgSO4 10/28/13 | Sat. sol. 10% | D. O. C. 12/07/13 | WFH | protocell liquid suspension in polyhedron5: cube

Comments: Kateri Tekakwitha beatified by Pope John Paul II 1980, canonized by Pope Benedict XVI October 21, 2012. The equine relic, as a second class relic, is believed to be an object that once came into contact with a saint and is associated with healing ‘miracles’ by virtue of association (similar beliefs occur in various cultures worldwide – see “contagion magic”). Our scientific inquiry and findings suggest that the opposite may be the case, with Kateri’s ‘healing’ properties having derived from regular care of and contact with the equine companion.

Common history: “Tekakwitha” is said to have been a name given to Kateri, meaning: “she who bumps into things” (indicating faulty vision). The figure of Saint Kateri can be understood to have been used as a bridge between two conflicting realities: that of traditional indigenous culture and colonial Christianity. Her birthright as daughter of a Mohawk Chief (paternal) and Roman Catholic Algonquin mother, Tagaskouita (who had been captured and taken in to the Mohawk community) rendered a young Kateri, orphaned at age 4, vulnerable to the political desires of both the Jesuits and the Turtle Clan, where her adoptive paternal uncle was chief. As part of the Turtle Clan, she became skilled at traditional crafts, such as sewing animal skins, weaving mats, baskets and boxes from reeds and grasses, and at food gathering and preparation. Following an invasion and the destruction of her village by the French, the clan established a new village, Gandaouagué, along the Mohawk River. As conflicts continued as a result of territorial wars and the fur trade, the young Kateri aided in tending to the wounded, at the side of visiting Jesuit priests. After refusing several attempts by her family to force her to marry, Kateri converted to Catholicism where she was free to remain unmarried. Though she was not the first Mohawk to do so, due to her actions, she was spurned from the village and moved to and settled in the newly established Kahnawake Mohawk Territory (originally recorded as a Jesuit Mission), across from the island of Montréal. The Christian practices of mortification of the flesh and charity closely resembled cultural practices of the Mohawk, which served as a transition point for Kateri. The traditional male warrior practice of flesh piercing was taken up vigorously by Kateri as a Christian ritual – she is said to have slept on a mat of thorns in order to lend power to her prayers. With her close female companion, Marie-Therèse Tegaiaguenta and clan matron/mentor, Anastasia Tegonhatsiongo, Kateri informally established an association of devout female nuns and converts before her death. As a native woman, she was denied access to ordainment despite her desire to formalize a group of native disciples.

Jesuit claims are that after her death, Kateri Tekakwitha was healed of all pox scars and “became so beautiful and so white”, losing her indigenous “ruddiness”. This apparent white-washing has remained unchallenged on public record to this day. Her gravestone reads, “The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red men.” Her nickname as “Lily of the Mohawks” refers to the lily-whiteness bestowed upon her after her death. Her remains were cremated and sometimes used for healing. Relics from her grave, held against the bodies of the ill, have been documented as producing miracles of healing from the Variola virus and Necrotizing fasciitis.

Conclusions: Kateri suffered partial loss of vision probably due to subconjunctival and retinal hemorrhages resulting from Vaccinia virus. Given that Kateri suffered her illness in early childhood, and that children infected with the human smallpox virus (Variola Minor or Variola Major) have historically suffered an over 80% mortality rate, it is a high probability that her actual illness was what is believed to be horsepox (Vaccinia). Total mortality of her family members infected with smallpox (while she survived) supports this hypothesis. By dint of her animal husbandry, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was imbued with ‘healing’ powers, apparently then yet unknown to medical science but in later centuries “discovered” through careful observation, correlative variables and finally, scientific medical evidence (causative).

Scientific implications of the relic specimen:  The relic may in fact retain some of its potential for inoculation against small pox, though further research is in this case unwarranted as the Variola virus has been effectively isolated within WHO Type 4 laboratories. However, implications in the protection against streptococcus and staphylococcal species (responsible for flesh-eating disease) do warrant further scientific investigation. Political implications of the specimen are strong. European colonial bioterrorism against First Nations peoples, as an historical event in Canada and the US (18th c.), remains suspended within contradictory streams of information: accounts of blankets infected with Variola virus strains and handed out to the native population in an attempt to eradicate and eliminate indigenous land claims is contraindicated by other accounts of blankets infected with Vaccinia virus strains in order to inoculate the First Nations populations against widespread European-introduced smallpox outbreaks. While neither account necessarily precludes the other, it is not the intention of our researchers to take a position. What is hypothesized, however, as demonstrated by this specimen, is that inoculation may possibly have been understood/used by indigenous and/or religious ‘healers’ earlier than North American medical records lay claim to.

Status: On display under surveillance at 45.4987°N 73.5801°W

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