Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, for whom the conference is named, was a member of the Mohawk tribe. She was born to a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in 1656 in upstate New York along the Hudson River, and was baptized by a Jesuit missionary in 1676 when she was 20.
She was devoted to prayer and cared for the sick. She died in 1680 at the age of 24. In June 1980, she became the first Native American to beatified.