Kateri Tekakwitha was born in Gandahouhague, in the territory of the Mohawks, which later became part of New York. Her father was a Mohawk warrior of the Turtle clan, and her mother was an Algonquin captive. At the age of four smallpox ravaged her village, leaving her disfigured, impairing her eyesight, and depriving her of her parents. She was then raised by an uncle. She met Jesuit missionaries and, despite opposition to Christianity from her tribe and particularly her uncle, met with the missionaries in secret. She was baptized at Easter, 1676. She then became subject to increased contempt and derision from the people of her village for her conversion, as well as her refusal to work on Sundays or to marry.
In 1677 Kateri fled to Quebec, to the mission of St. Francis Xavier du Sault, called Caughnawaga by the native people. The following Christmas she received her first communion. At Caughnawaga she contributed to the community's economy while engaging in great personal austerities. She also continued to keep her personal vow of chastity. In 1679 she was allowed to begin a small convent at the mission. The following year she died. She was beatified in 1980.