The 2014 Gathering of Potawatomi Nations took place in the woods of western Michigan, home to the Gun Lake Potawatomi Tribe. Located near the Canadian and United States border, its cool summers were the exact opposite of what CPN member and University of Texas A&M-Kingsville student Caleb Lee is used to. Lee, a Bourassa family member, is a resident of southern Texas where he has lived his whole life. He made the cross country trip to this year’s Gathering to embrace his culture and continue to work on his undergraduate thesis which examines the relation between Native American talking circles and the judicial system.
The resident of the small town of Bishop, Texas is pursuing a degree in criminology, ultimately in pursuit of his ultimate goal of becoming a game warden.
“My mentor and one of my professors, Dr. Stan Hodges, is a Native American himself and suggested I look into how talking circles in the Native American community solve disputes similar to how our modern day judicial system does,” said Lee. “Once I looked into it I knew that I wanted to do my thesis over this topic since it would also help me connect with my heritage.”
Lee developed a questionnaire for respondents that will provide information to feed into his research for his final thesis.
“I’ve got a lot of good information and so many people are willing to help,” said Lee. “However, I have found that quite a bit of people I’ve given the survey to have never even heard of a talking circle or know little about them. I hope interacting with everyone on this topic can open their eyes a little on this method of social communication that is still being practiced today.”
“Being at the Gathering I’ve learned a lot and have enjoyed interacting with the other tribes and getting their opinions on talking circles besides CPN members,” said Lee. “The experience has been wonderful and I’m really grateful to have this opportunity of doing something beneficial for my Tribe.”