Of Corn and Catholicism


Of Corn and Catholicism

A History of Religion and Power in Pueblo Indian Patron Saint Feast Days

Andrea Maria McComb Sanchez

Borderlands and Transcultural Studies Series

222 pages
3 photographs, 1 illustration, 1 map, index


February 2025


$65.00 Pre-order

About the Book

In Of Corn and Catholicism Andrea Maria McComb Sanchez examines the development of the patron saint feast days among Eastern Pueblo Indians of New Mexico from the seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century. Focusing on the ways Pueblo religion intertwined with Spanish Catholicism, McComb Sanchez explores feast days as sites of religious resistance, accommodation, and appropriation. McComb Sanchez introduces the term “bounded incorporation” to conceptualize how Eastern Pueblo people kept boundaries flexible: as they incorporated aspects of Catholicism, they changed Catholicism as well, making it part of their traditional religious lifeway.

McComb Sanchez uses archival and published primary sources, anthropological records, and her qualitative fieldwork to discuss how Pueblo religion was kept secret and safe during the violence of seventeenth-century Spanish colonialism in New Mexico; how Eastern Pueblos developed strategies of resistance and accommodation, in addition to secrecy, to deal with missionaries and Catholicism in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; how patron saint feast days emerged as a way of incorporating a foreign religion on the Pueblo’s own terms; and how, by the later nineteenth century, these feast days played a significant role in both Pueblo and Hispano communities through the Pueblos’ own initiative.

Author Bio

Andrea Maria McComb Sanchez is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics at the University of Arizona.


“This is a terrific book, a model for new scholarship on Native American religious traditions. McComb Sanchez argues that the Pueblo Indians did not develop their characteristic patron saints’ feast days until the early nineteenth century, much later than scholars have previously assumed. In the process, she shows how and why Pueblo people intentionally incorporated selected aspects of Catholicism into their own ways of knowing, being, and acting in the world.”—Tisa Wenger, author of We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom

“An impressive piece of scholarship. It will be incredibly useful for courses on the Southwest, religious traditions, Native American studies, [and] American studies. I found its working through of the place of patron saint feast days incredibly compelling—thoughtful and sophisticated in its rejection of easy formulations about what is and is not tradition. . . . A pleasure to read.”—Anthony K. Webster, author of Intimate Grammars: An Ethnography of Navajo Poetry

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Chapter 1: The Feast and the Focus
Chapter 2: Conquest, Conversion, Violence, and Secrecy
Chapter 3: Religious Accommodation, Appropriation, and the Establishment of Boundaries
Chapter 4: Finding the Feast Day
Chapter 5: The New Order

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