Seven years ago, Andrew Adamietz became a member of the 2010 class of the Potawatomi Leadership Program. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Business Committee launched the concept in 2003 as a way to teach youth about Tribal history, culture, economics, government and professions.
Following his brothers’ footsteps, Adamietz was accepted into the program and came to Shawnee, Oklahoma, from the small town of Wyalusing, Pennsylvania for the six-week summer session following high school graduation.
A descendant of the Frapp family, his mom’s side imparts his Potawatomi heritage. Adamietz learned about the PLP from his older brothers George and Steven, each graduates of earlier programs. George participated in the inaugural group in 2003. Through the program, each sibling explored the Tribe and their Native ancestry.
Summer of firsts
“I don’t really have the opportunity to travel all that much, and so it got me out of the state, and it got me to a new place, which was really fun and interesting,” Adamietz said. “It was my first time going out and doing something by myself.” It was also his first time to travel by plane.
He studied all the Tribe’s enterprises and departments, including businesses, services, government and even a radio station.
“It opened my eyes to a lot of different things,” he said. “Communications mainly, because I was always very fascinated with how the tribe communicated with all of its members and all the different things they were doing from the radio to the newsletter, to just the stuff that they have circulating like within the tribe itself.”
In fall 2010, Adamietz began college at Pennsylvania State University as a communications major. He ultimately graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in secondary English and communications education. The PLP helped him determine a post-secondary education path.
“It was kind of my first foray into professionalism in that I was able to work on projects with all sorts of people from different backgrounds,” Adamietz said.
The program also gave him the confidence to be himself, including taking on a theater minor and made him seriously think about leadership roles and how to better foster long-term relationships with people.
“Most importantly, I did get to learn about my culture or my heritage and not only about our tribe, but just how the landscape of modern America changed all tribes,” he said. “The plight and the strengths and the worries and the fears of tribes, which I thought was very eye-opening.”
One of the Potawatomi Leadership Program’s most important cultural experiences, he said, is a student naming ceremony at the end of the summer. Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett named Adamietz Naw Gishek, meaning “Center of the Sky.”
“It was very emotional, and also it reaffirmed what I thought of myself in that I consider myself very competent. I think that I do influence people for the better,” he said. “I kind of make that my guideline.”
Following college graduation in 2014, Adamietz moved to New York City, which had been a goal. He likes the opportunities it provides on a day-to-day basis and the cultural diversity.
“The thing about New York City is that whatever you want to be here, you can be it,” he said. “If I wanted to be a baker, I could quit my job right now, go be an apprentice and do that. … If I wanted to be an actor, I could do that. If I wanted to be a CEO of a company. If I wanted to go back to school.
“I obviously love my hometown, and I visit home often, but I just knew that it wouldn’t give me everything I needed as far as what I want to do… I wanted to learn about different people and their customs and culture, and that’s exactly what New York City gives me.”
He was a New York Kids Club preschool location manager for two years before accepting a position in the summer of 2016 as an Associate Producer at FCB Health, a midtown Manhattan medical advertising agency. Adamietz leads website, brochure and email design projects that pharmaceutical companies use to market to health care providers.
“I like the opportunity it gives me to be a leader, and I do like to manage projects,” he said. “This was exciting because I do get to have the opportunity, but I’m always growing. I’m always looking to do new things.”
Adamietz joked about being “another 20-something-year-old in Brooklyn who isn’t using their bachelor’s degree,” but he keeps his options open and follows where life leads him.
“I really do want to get back to teaching and education, but more so for companies,” he said. “I want to teach people how to lead, how to manage, how to talk to people.”
Adamietz hopes to combine his educational and leadership skills forged during PLP into a job that fulfills him daily.
The confidence and opportunities for exploration the CPN program provided also helped Adamietz take on singing and acting after high school, which led to his minor in theater.
While at Penn State, he was involved in several productions for its musical theater program including roles in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying and Jesus Christ Superstar. Adamietz also portrayed lead character Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.
In New York City he also built up a community around his passions and signed up for acting classes at the now-closed New York City branch of Chicago-based The Annoyance Theater.
“I got a job at a restaurant that was right around the corner from me. I met a lot of great people there. It was, as most bars are, filled with people who are trying to act and be actors and entertainers,” he said. “If I ever want to do like an improv jam, they’ll be like, ‘Hey, you want to come?’ or just random stuff like that, which I love.”
Besides improvisational comedy, his skills include whistling, sketch comedy, speech dialects and even beatboxing. He also acted in a couple of short films. For Adamietz, it’s all fun.
“I have a monthly improv show (Dirty Little Secrets) that I do with a couple of friends,” he said. “Since I’ve come to New York City, I’ve been in a couple of readings of some musicals (and) writing some plays and sketches, taking classes, although I don’t know if I want to throw myself at that 100 percent.”
As Adamietz explores life and builds relationships, he reflects on how the Potawatomi Leadership Program provided the foundation for where he is today.
“I’m just super thankful for being able to do the program because, had they not been so flexible and open and just generally great, I wouldn’t have been there at all, and I wouldn’t know any of this,” he said.
He keeps in touch with Frapp descendants through a Facebook group and hopes to return to Shawnee for another CPN Family Reunion Festival.
Learn more about Potawatomi Leadership Program at plp.potawatomi.org.