Lady Blackrobes is a very well written historical biography with some autobiographical input about the Sisters of the Ursaline Order and the Native Americans whom were considered pagans that the Sisters wished to bring “into the comfort of the kingdom of God.”  

As was stated in various ways throughout the book, there was certainly no fame or glory in the work the Ursaline Sisters were undertaking. Theirs was a life of extreme poverty, an intense workload that was truly excessive for each Sister, and many trials that had to be overcome.  

The Sisters believed that they were the possessors of the absolute truth and their unshakable belief in the dictates of the Christian Church, namely Catholicism, blinded them to the possibility of any perception of the beauty, simplicity, balance, and harmony with nature that is inherent within Native American spirituality. In the minds of the Sisters, there was no reconciling the two beliefs and since Christianity was the sole arbiter of truth, they had no choice but to completely stamp out and annihilate any ritual, semblance or portion having to do with the ancestral souls they sought to save from eternal damnation.  

Equally, on the Native American side, the impact the Sisters had on the Native American culture could not be understated for from that time forward the seed thought of Christianity was planted deep within the collective consciousness of the Native American mind. For you see, the result of this seed thought would be the concept of initial sin and the overbearing feeling of guilt and inadequacy that comes with the acceptance of the concept of initial sin. This would begin the fall from grace of the Native American’s, from their perfect state of balance and oneness in which they existed with their Mother the Earth, as well as Father Sky, Grandmother Moon, and Grandfather Sun, driving a wedge between them and their Creator, The Great Spirit. No longer would they be able to communicate on a personal level with all their Relations, the Standing People, the Winged Ones, the Crawling Ones, the Stone People, the Four-Legged’s, etc. For it would be taught by the Sisters that nature was inferior to man and that it was a sin in the eyes of their God to communicate with all these creatures, treating them as if they were their brothers and sisters. No longer, could the great Eagle carry the messages of the People upon its wings to the Creator, for God spoke directly to only the Priests of the church and only they were able to interpret the will of God and have direct access to God. This would have consequences that would come to bear results in the Native American community continually, even unto the present day.  

Having Native American blood myself, as the reviewer, this book brought great pain to my heart. Even though it is apparent that the Sisters were moving from a place of love which they viewed as an errand of mercy, regardless of how benevolent they viewed their acts to be, their ignorance and lack of understanding still casts its shadows within the heart of those of us who carry Native American blood today.  

Those who are familiar with the following phrase will understand perfectly the theme of this book: Kill the Indian, save the boy.  

~review by Lone Eagle Eye

Author: Irene Mahoney O.S.U.

Fulcrum Publishing, 2006

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