By Kaya DeerInWater, Shkodedeajek chapter president
Citizen Potawatomi Nation is one of two tribal nations with its own chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. In February 2019, CPN and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians started the first two tribal chapters of AISES, which provide opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Members promote and support each other in their own communities. ASIES was founded in Oklahoma in 1977 and has 4,600 individual members in 189 chartered college and university chapters as well as 15 professional chapters and 158 affiliated K-12 schools.
CPN’s AISES chapter is named Shkodedeajek (the People with the Fire in Their Hearts). Pronounced shk-oh-duh-deh-ah-juhk, it is a reference to the greater Potawatomi Nation as the Keepers of the Fire. Our Tribal chapter includes more than 75 members organized into four central committees that focus on supporting different aspects of our local and national STEM community. The chapter also hosted an event during the 2019 Family Reunion Festival where participants got a chance to work with computer coding or medicinal plants. One portion focused on a tutorial in robotics coding with Bluetooth-enabled SPHERO robots, and the other centered on using native Oklahoma plants as healing teas.
In 2020, Shkodedeajek plans to host more events with local schools, send a delegation of leaders to the annual AISES Leadership Summit and National Conference, and start a mentorship program for students. This chapter is open to any Citizen Potawatomi, regardless of geographic location, as well as any Native person who resides within CPN’s jurisdiction that spans over five counties. If you are interested in joining, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit aises.org/membership.