As the June 27 Election Day draws near, we spoke with District 13 incumbent Bobbi Bowden about the challenges facing Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Indian Country and how she would address them.

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

“The greatest challenge facing the Tribe at this time is the rapid growth of our enrollment. While it is exciting to see our Nation grow to more than 32,000 members, we must continue to grow our enterprises and increase our revenue so we are able to continue to provide the services which so many benefit from and depend on. These benefits include prescriptions, medical services and scholarships to provide education for our future leaders, just to name a few. In order to do this, the legislative branch must continue to work together with our executive leaders to ensure continued success of our enterprises so we may continue to provide benefits to our membership.”

How do you see the Tribe continuing the growth, in economic and population terms, in the coming years?

“I believe our Tribe will continue to grow by population and economically in the coming years. When our Nation implemented our new constitution and added legislative representatives in each district, this gave us the opportunity to get information out to members throughout the United States. We are blessed to have incredible legislative representatives in each district that have ‘taken the bull by the horns’ and informed citizens in their districts of the benefits, the traditions and the pride of being a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

“As our population grows we are blessed beyond measure to have leadership with the vision to help our economic future grow. We have to work closely to implement new business plans and ideas that will allow our Nation to continue to prosper.”

What is your take on the Tribe’s disputes with the City of Shawnee?

“It is very hard for me to put into words. I do not understand how the city leaders and some of the residents do not see the positive impact the Tribe has on the city of Shawnee and the State of Oklahoma. Not only is the Tribe the largest employer in Pottawatomie County with more than 2,200 employees, we continue to donate to local nonprofits in Pottawatomie County, contribute to Oklahoma schools and pay millions in taxes and payments in lieu of taxes.

“To me, it would be a very easy decision for the City of Shawnee to want a good working relationship with the Tribe and work together to come to a solution.”

How would you increase awareness and knowledge about CPN across the state to tribal and non-tribal populations?

“I would increase awareness by finding ways to educate Tribal and non-tribal members about the economic impact tribes have on the State of Oklahoma and the counties where our enterprises are. The September 2014 edition of the Hownikan shows the economic impact the Tribe had in 2013. It is very eye opening. I would like to see that information shared not only in tribal publications but also in city and state publications.”

What is the greatest threat you see facing Indian Country as a whole?

“At this time the conflict with the State of Oklahoma and the City of Shawnee. The outcome of these issues will set precedence for other tribes in our state and the effect on their enterprises as well.

“This will not stop in Shawnee or Pottawatomie County and, in my opinion, is a definite threat to Indian Country as a whole. Whether I am re-elected or not, I will continue to do everything I am able to do to support our leaders as this conflict continues.”