Post #1: Sonoran Catholicism

As we spent time at San Xavier Del Bac and when generally reading about the Tohono O’odham, I always find myself asking the question: why do the O’odham practice catholicism in any form, and are there still feelings of resentment involved? I, personally, don’t understand why they would incorporate catholicism when Spanish colonialism in general had a surplus of negative affects on the O’odham. In one of the articles we read about Father Kino, the author tells of a slaughter by the Spanish Missionaries of many O’odham, including innocent children and women. The story of white colonialism is brutal and horrific in many cases, including forced assimilation, mandatory boarding schools, and an overall disregard for the culture and way of life of anyone other than themselves. The famous Carlisle Indian School developed by Richard Henry Pratt, ran on the motto of “Kill the Indian, save the man”. Why then, were the O’odham more accepting and even embracing of catholicism and the Spanish ways?

Looking at many native American tribes, the O’odham were no doubt a very welcoming one. In the story of the Corn man, the O’odham women welcome him as a stranger and let him stay the night. Perhaps an open and loving culture could’ve led to the adoption of catholicism. Furthermore, because the O’odham were more open to the Spanish, the missionaries may have been more giving and understanding, and done what they could to help the O’odham. The Spanish interactions with the O’odham and the Apache for example were detailed very differently, and the O’odham even worked with the Spanish against the Apache. Because of this and evident in this is a joining of forces and an acceptance or a cohesion between the two. An in depth examination would most likely bring about a variety of answers, including the social acceptance and stronger cohesion, the introductory nature of catholicism and how new it was to the O’odham, and the new, easier way of life possibly introduced. At the end of the day, I still wonder why a tribe who suffered many deaths, were forcefully assimilated, had their culture disregarded and destroyed in many cases, lost land and wellbeing due to exploitation, and who suffered a plethora of negative effects still remained open and interactive with catholicism. Religion is interesting.


One Reply to “Post #1: Sonoran Catholicism”

  1. Religion definitely is interesting. I have also been frequently wondering about this adaptation of western beliefs that seem to contradict most of the traditional Hohokam and O’odham principles of cosmology. Part of me wonders if there was a part of the tribe that desired to be somewhat westernized in order to survive in the progressing world, or if they believed that giving in to some aspects of western culture would save them from forced, complete assimilation and total loss of their culture.

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