Several offices in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal government are on the ballot for Election Day 2017, including the executive office of tribal chairman and legislative districts 1, 2, 3 and 4. The Hownikan asked each candidate a brief set of questions as an introduction to both incumbents and challengers as CPN voters around the country will be voting on at least one election this year alongside the annual tribal budget. More in-depth articles on the candidates’ views and background will follow in the coming months ahead of the June elections.

Tribal Chairman – Incumbent John “Rocky” Barrett

Full name and Potawatomi name: John “Rocky” Barrett, Keweoge (He Leads Them Home) 

Hometown: Shawnee, Oklahoma

Occupation: Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Chairman – 1985 to present | First National Bank and Trust Co. of Shawnee, Oklahoma – Chairman of the Board – 1989 to present | Cattle Rancher – BLC Angus Ranch – 500 head of Registered Angus cattle, cow/calf operation, bulls and replacement heifers – 1987 to present.

Potawatomi family name: My Grandfather was Oliver Peltier, my grandmother was Ozetta Bourassa Peltier 

On why he believes running for the tribal chairman position is important: “Running for Tribal Chairman is important to me to continue the progress the tribe has made over the past 32 years. In particular, the importance of seeing through the successful establishment of the most unique tribal governmental form in the United States, with a “virtual Tribal Legislature” that provides elected representation for every member no matter their home location, is vital. The completion of our development as a multi-faceted tourism and commercial attraction that pulls customers from hundreds of miles around us should now become a source of opportunity, homes and jobs for our people.”


Tribal Chairman – Challenger Steve Castaneda

Full name and Potawatomi name: Steve Daniel Shincis Castaneda, E-conush (Leader of Small Group)

Hometown: Born in Wapato, Washington, currently resides in Shawnee, Oklahoma

Occupation: Street Maintenance for the City of Shawnee Municipal Government 

Potawatomi family name: Burnett descendant of Abram Burnett the Last Chief of Citizen Potawatomi Nation and Clara Burnett, Clara E. Shincis

On why he believes running for tribal chairman is important: “My people suffered through the great Trails of Death to settle here in Oklahoma. With the words of the federal and local government, our lives would be better. Then with the Great Land Rush our lives were upturned again. Then our tribal office uses great words to give hope to all members, but only help a few in Oklahoma and not much to the members of this, once great people that we call Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribe. Now it’s time the tribe gives back to the tribal members. Every person counts and I am here for them.”