Tribal members and families can experience the recently renovated Cultural Heritage Center during Family Reunion Festival 2018. In January, the CHC wrapped up nearly four years of renovations and revealed 11 new exhibits. Each section takes visitors through Potawatomi historical eras starting with pre-European contact through the 21st century.
“If you are a Tribal member who has not seen the updates, it’s very well worth your time,” said Kelli Mosteller, CHC director. “I think everybody can learn something.”
The CHC began as a place dedicated to preserving the Tribe’s history in 2006.
“The Cultural Heritage Center is a way to showcase what the Tribe has been through, where it’s come and where it’s going,” said Blake Norton, curator.
Today, it serves as a not only a museum but also a community center and resource for Tribal members.
The CHC staff hosts guided tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on June 28. If visitors are unable to make it on Thursday, the renovation team designed sections to provide high-quality self-guided tours. Also, research and genealogical resources are available with knowledgeable staff on hand to answer questions throughout the weekend.
If looking to contribute items, please note, the CHC does not accept donations during Festival.
“The three-day Festival period does not allow our Tribal members and staff enough time to adequately complete the acquisition process,” Norton said. He encourages those interested in giving or loaning the Tribe historical pieces to schedule a time with staff outside of Festival.
During Festival, staff and Tribal members host Potawatomi craft and regalia-making workshops, eagle demonstrations and other activities at the CHC.
“We are also working on getting supplies together for Blake to do a demonstration on how to build a wigwam that will be outside behind the Heritage Center,” Mosteller said.
The sessions are free except for moccasin and shawlmaking. Individuals must cover the cost of supplies, which is $40 per person for moccasin and $35 per person for shawl.
These items are available for purchase at the CHC gift shop.
Staff developed Festival programming and activities for all ages, and everyone is encouraged to participate regardless of experience or skill.
“Most of the people that are doing those two classes have never done that before and would not consider themselves crafty, and you do not need sewing knowledge to do the applique class,” Mosteller said.
The CHC is more than just another Native American museum, Norton said. “It’s a museum and cultural center specifically for this community. What better time than Festival when all the Tribal members are here to celebrate that fact?”
For more details on CHC programs and tours, check out the schedule of events in this month’s issue of the Hownikan.