The Potawatomi Leadership Program has been in place since 2003 and serves to educate young tribal members on CPN and give them workplace experience and knowledge for their college and future careers. The program is only open to enrolled tribal members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and is limited between 8 to 10 students.

This year’s program began June 24 and ended on August 2, 2013.

PLP students devote 6 weeks to work as interns at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation headquarters in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Students participated in group activities including a naming ceremony and spend time with each CPN program.

For 2013, the ten students ranged in age from 18-20 and came to CPN from Oklahoma, Maine, Colorado, Oregon, California, Louisiana and Texas.

This is the second in a two part series featuring the 2013 PLP members.

Gage Johnson is 18 years old and a member of the Greemore family from Seminole, Okla.. He will be a freshman at Oklahoma Baptist University in the fall.

“When I was in sixth grade, my older sister attended PLP and had a life-changing experience.  Since then, I have anxiously awaited my opportunity to take part in this prestigious program. I have learned invaluable information about our culture, heritage, and language.  Also, I have learned so much about how the tribe operates and its enterprises. One thing has been extremely obvious throughout this entire experience. The tribe’s main goal is to serve its people and preserve our ways.”

Regarding his most memorable experience out of his six weeks serving the tribe, Gage brought up the PLP’s use of a spiritual sweat lodge.

“It was memorable because we actually built a sweat lodge ourselves. We cut our own bows for the structure, soaked them in the pond in order to shape them, and basically did it all our own. Then we participated in the spiritual sweat, and it was intense.”

Gage will study Applied Ministry and will make history at his college, Oklahoma Baptist University, as a member of the college’s first football team since 1940. 

Katlyn Anderson is 18 years old and a member of the Nadeau and Ford families from Enid, Oklahoma. She will be attending Northern Oklahoma College in the fall.

“I wanted to learn more about my family’s history and be exposed to more of the culture.  I wanted to know more about who I am. I have learned some words from my native tongue.  I also learned what happens at the powwows and was privileged to participate in one.  I have learned what a sweat is, and I am currently learning how to make a sweat. I am also learning all of the different kinds of departments that the tribe has.”
Katlyn had not been to Shawnee prior to the PLP program.

“I hope to know a lot about my culture and be able to take what I learn and teach my family about what I have learned. This experience has really opened my eyes and has given me experiences that I’d never take back.”
Katlyn plans to continue her education and obtain her degree in elementary education.

“I enjoyed learning about the history of the tribe and would love to do this all over again. It was an amazing experience. The different stories and departments were very informative. I was blown away by the passion that everyone has.

Kate will spend the summer playing basketball and preparing for her first year of college.

Miranda Hazelton is 18 years old and a member of the Peltier family from San Antonio, Texas. Miranda will be a freshman at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the fall. 

“PLP was the perfect combination of the two things I was looking for: knowledge of my heritage, and an internship to prepare myself for college. I’ve learned things from how to fringe to how our government works. Every day is something new, and sometimes it’s a lot to take in, but I’m excited for everything I have yet to learn.”

Miranda had previously been to Shawnee for festival in 2010. 

“I want this to be the starting point for my involvement in the tribe. I want to go from here and keep learning, keep with it any way I can, and then bring it all back to my family and get them involved too.”
Miranda will major in modern languages, and hopes to become an interpreter, and then to use that career to travel the world.

Nelson Wadman is 20 years old and a member of the Pettifer family from Milwaukie, Oregon. Nelson will be a sophomore at Idaho State University in the fall.

“I was interested in the PLP Program because I wanted to learn more about my tribe and what I can do to help it. I have learned some of the language, some of the dances, some of our tribes’ history, some of my family history, and a lot of the tribal customs and culture.”

Nelson had never been to Oklahoma before the PLP program.

“I like Oklahoma and everyone is really nice. I have grown from this experience and I have definitely become more in touch with my Potawatomi heritage.”

“I hope to learn more about my family’s history and really take ownership of my family’s culture.”

After college Nelson plans to either go to medical school or go into law enforcement.

“I would suggest the PLP program for anyone. It’s a life changing experience that makes you think, not only about your own future, but also the future of our people.

Nelson will spend the rest of his summer visiting with family and getting ready for rugby season. He plays rugby in the Utah Rugby Union.

Sarah Sandlin is 18 years old and a member of Tescier family from Topsham, Maine. She will be attending the University of Richmond as a freshman in the fall.

“I applied for the PLP program so I could have the opportunity to learn about and feel more a part of my tribe. I have learned that my tribe has a rich culture, one that I’m very proud of and wish to learn more about.”

Sarah had been to Shawnee for the Family Reunion Festival once before the PLP program.

“The PLP program gave me a lot of insight into my tribe. I’ve always associated myself with Potawatomi, but never fully understood what that meant.”

Sarah plans to attend the University of Richmond to study Political Science.

“I hope to explore a lot of things in college and I’ll probably end up in Graduate School as well.”

Sarah will spend the remainder of her summer in Maine with family.

“If you’re passionately curious about your tribal identity, you should participate in the PLP program. The past six weeks have changed the way I think about myself and what I thought the tribe was.”