Michael Bourbonnais Q&A
June 16, 2014
Dave Carney Q&A
June 16, 2014

What does it mean to you to be a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation? 

“It is at the core of who I am as a person. I was raised with the stories of our proud people and of the
struggles of our family. I was raised to respect our culture and heritage, and to serve others before myself,
which I have done all of my adult life. I, like my father before me, walk with the blood of our ancestors. I am proud to carry that blood, and will always respect it.”

In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge facing the tribe?

“As I have said many times recently, maintaining and strengthening tribal sovereignty is the greatest
challenge that we as a Tribe will be facing for some time to come. In history, every time the government has moved to remove or weaken our tribal sovereignty, we as a people have lost everything and we have been forced to accept their terms. We as a people can no longer accept that fate. What was destroyed in a moment in time during the removal, like our language and traditions, is taking several generations to build back. Without tribal sovereignty and our right to self-determination, it will be lost again.”

Looking back at your time in office, what are you most proud of?

“I am very proud to have been a part of a government that works, and has governed the Citizen Potawatomi Nation through a period of great economic diversification and expansion. This is the basis for all the services and programs that the nation delivers to the members. The Nation needs to maintain at least a five percent growth to maintain its programs at the same levels due to the population growth of the tribe. Fortunately the Nation has exceeded that growth rate, which has allowed for the expansion of programs and increases where feasible. Some will say that the money is not necessary, but it is allowing us to preserve our past and to build back our heritage.”

If you win the election, what are your plans for the upcoming session?

“One of the things that we as a legislature have started to do is to close down the district offices because they are underutilized, and use the money savings to bring more services directly to our members in the districts. I want to work towards growing our staff that can bring cultural and language programs directly to the districts in several small gatherings, placed so that our members don’t have far to travel. I also want to keep pushing to expand member benefits to those outside of Oklahoma. I will also continue planning for the next 10 generations of Potawatomi.”