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Citizen Potawatomi Nation awarded grant to establish Potawatomi Cultural Mentorship Program

Citizen Potawatomi Nation was awarded $367,469 by the Administration for Native Americans to establish a new cultural mentorship program. The Cultural Mentorship Program will be directed toward tribal youth ages 12-17 years old in Pottawatomie County. Youth will receive instruction on traditional Native American culture and Native teachings that will empower them to combat peer pressure, bullying, and other risk behaviors that lead to delinquency.

“This project will result in a positive change in the tribal community, by providing community support and mentorship programs that are currently not available to support our Native youth.  Without the intervention of this program Native youth will continue to succumb to peer pressure that leads to risky and criminal behavior,” said Kelli Mosteller, Project Director and Director of the CPN Cultural Heritage Center. “The Potawatomi Youth Cultural Mentorship Program within the CPNs Tribal Youth Program will sustain development of youth mentors, who will assume peer mentorship and leadership positions within the Tribal Youth Program.”

The objectives for the program are the development of three forms of curriculum for area Native youth and professional staff.  These curricula will include a cultural mentorship manual, a cultural activities curriculum, and a peer mentor curriculum.  These three tools will work together to educate our youth and train them to make better decisions in high-pressure situations.

“The development of this curriculum for staff and youth will be founded in CPN history, arts, culture, and lifeways,” added Coby Lehman, Cultural Activities Coordinator for the program.

The first year of participants will include 15 youth from Pottawatomie County, who have already been selected. Courses will be taught as part of the Tribal Youth Program, housed at the Potawatomi Learning and Cultural Exchange Gymnasium (the P.L.A.C.E.), Monday through Friday, 3:30-6:00 p.m. during the school year and weekdays during the summer for a total of 520 hours of mentored time per student.

“We believe that any comprehensive strategy seeking to enhance the lives of our people must mold our youth into tomorrow’s leaders by instilling cultural pride rather than entitlement,” said BJ Trousdale, Tribal Youth Program Coordinator. 

By the end of the two-year award period we hope to have developed an ongoing cultural mentorship program that can expand, as needed, to meet the ever-changing needs of our tribal community.

“This project will impact the community by reducing the rate of juvenile delinquency among our Native youth,” said Lehman.
Students interested in participating in Potawatomi Cultural Mentorship Program or Potawatomi Learning and Cultural Exchange Gymnasium (the P.L.A.C.E.) should contact Michael Logan at (405)214-5110 ext. 309 or michael.logan@potawatomi.org.