The First Native American Saint and The Falsehoods in the News Media

There are numerous reports out today that the Vatican will canonized the first-ever Native American. These reports have been reported by CNN as Pope names first Native American saint and Reuters via the Chicago Tribune as Vatican names seven saints including first Native American. The new saint referred in these erroneous articles is Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, known as Lily of the Mohawks. She lived in the late 1600s in and died at the young age of 24, during her life and times many Native Americans were ravaged by decease and war but she is not the first Native American to reach sainthood.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is the second Native American saint. The first Native American to be named a saint by the Vatican was Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. Saint Juan Diego was canonized by Pope Juan Paul II in 2002. Saint Juan Diego was a Mexica living during the time of the Spanish conquest of the New World in what is now modern day Mexico City. Saint Juan Diego is the first Native American saint, and Saint Kateri Takakwitha is the second Native American to be honored as such.

The false aspects in the reporting of the canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha are so basic, and yet so widespread, that you have to question the basic research and journalism employed at CNN, Reuters, AFP and other news agencies that are reporting these falsehoods. If you can’t trust the news networks to report the basic facts on trivial events how can you trust them to report the truth on events that are more complicated and have a larger impact in society. Since this error is so widespread in so many reports from so many different networks it just proves that journalist, much like your basic bloggers, just cut and paste from press releases and copy edit link bait headlines.

While the New York Times, the paper of record, incorrectly reports that “Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven saints, including the first Native American” Wikipedia correctly states that Saint Kateri Tekakwitha “is the first Native American woman to be venerated in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Pope Canonizes Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope - NYTimes.com 10/21/12 10/07 AM

Pope Canonizes Kateri Tekakwitha

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