In addition to the annual Family Reunion Festival in June, CPN will also be hosting the 2016 Potawatomi Gathering of Nations in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on July 28-30. Regular attendees, first time participants and tribal members from different Potawatomi bands should start preparing for the two events. CPN employees who have attended and worked both events throughout the years offer their advice on preparing for these events.

Who are the honored families and what should those family members do?

Curtis Grant, CHC Tribal Heritage Productions: “The honored families for this year’s Family Reunion Festival are the Clardy, Frapp, Kahdot, Juneau, Pappan, Crumbo and Muller families. Every year the honored families are encouraged to participate in the Tribal Heritage Production videos to help archive each family’s history.

“Tribal Heritage Productions documents the culture and identity of tribal members by videotaping and producing family history videos which can be found at the cultural heritage center.

“Tribal members are encouraged to wear some type of Potawatomi regalia during the interview and can either be filmed as an individual, a couple or with their whole family. Times and dates for each family’s interview are posted on the Festival schedule and occur throughout the three-day event.”

Are family photos taken for the honored families? How does that work?

Benjamin Apitz, CPN Public Information photographer: “On Saturday at least an hour before General Council, honored families meet up at the powwow arena for a scheduled group photo. I suggest making plans with your family before the day of the group photo. You might think about starting a Facebook group or something similar to help organize the group photo. A good idea is to have everyone in the same colored shirt. For each honored family you can wear different colored shirts to easily identify which family is which within the group photo of the honored family.”

What is the process for donating items to the Cultural Heritage Center?

CPN Curator and Archivist Blake Norton: “Unfortunately we are unable to accept any donations during the event given the legal, recording and conservational requirements needed to appropriately accept them.

“There simply isn’t enough time for the staff to adequately process the large amount of submissions made by tribal members during the three-day gathering. 

“However, any other time of the year we do accept donated items. The process is considerably long. Upon assessment, we accept a collection on a temporary basis or consideration status and submit it for approval by our Collections Committee. Once approved, acquisitions are determined gift or loan and appropriate legal processes are completed.”

What is the proper attire for Grand Entry and how can someone enter the competition dancing?

CPN Powwow Arena Director Coby Lehman: “The powwow arena is a sacred area for the tribe and not wearing the proper attire is offensive. Every year I see people wearing flip flops, shorts and people bringing their pets in the arena. These things are not allowed and are some of the common mistakes we see each year.

“Tribal members looking to participate in dancing during Grand Entry or the various social dances need to have adequate attire to do such. Men and boys need to have at least a ribbon shirt, closed toe shoes and pants. Women and girls need to have at least a skirt, their shoulders covered and closed toe shoes.

“Competition dancers will need to sign up the day of the powwow to participate in the judged dances. For those interested in competition dancing and have never done such please watch the video below that PLP members Brian Wojahn and Kate Anderson made about showcasing the different styles of dance typically seen during the powwow. It can also be seen at the CPN Hownikan YouTube page.”

watch the video

What are some options for people making their own regalia?

Margaret Zientek, regular attendee and dancer at Festival and Gathering: “Those who are creating new regalia or additions to their regalia should start doing so several months before the events. If you are commissioning someone to make an item, even more time should be allowed to get your regalia done in time.

“Anyone within driving distance to the cultural heritage center can attend their regalia making classes on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Professional powwow dancer Leslie Deer instructs the class how to make anything from shawls and ribbon shirts to blouses and applique. Sewing machines are provided but participants need to bring their own fabric or purchase it inside the CHC at Potawatomi Gifts. 

“For those unable to attend the classes look into the area you live in and if there are any similar classes you can attend. There is also plenty of resources for regalia making classes online such as the Cheyenne and Arapaho Television show on YouTube, Making Regalia with Juaquin Lonelodge.

“During both events, the CHC will offer different regalia making classes including shawl making, bead working and moccasin making. Plenty of sewing machines will be available for those in need of making a quick repair or an addition to their regalia.”

The 2016 Family Reunion Festival will take place June 24-26 while the 2016 Gathering of Nations will take place from July 28-30. For more information about the Family Reunion Festival or Potawatomi Gathering of Nations please visit