District 4 candidates

Jon E. Boursaw – Wetase Mkoh (Brave Bear)

I look forward to serving you for another 4 years, but I need your vote to do it.

I have had a career of positions that have prepared me to be an effective Tribal Legislator. I am a retired Colonel of the US Air Force where I served on active duty for over 24 years. Most recently I have had 17 years’ experience in senior positions in Native American Governments. Originally, I served as the Executive Director for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Mayetta, KS for 6 ½ years where I supervised 32 Tribal Programs. This gave me firsthand knowledge on how tribes are supported by federal funding and grants. This was followed by being asked to take on the position of Director of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Culture Heritage Center in Shawnee, OK for 2 ½ years. My first assignment was to lead the effort in creating the Tribal Veterans Wall of Honor. Finally, I have served as the District 4 Legislative Representative for the past eight years. I have worked extremely hard to make myself available to the CPN members in the District. I have kept them apprised of items of interest, upcoming events, and benefits such as the CARES assistance. As a result of my time in these two positions I am very familiar with the major activities, programs, and projects ongoing within the Nation. Though out all this time I have regularly attended and participated in the CPN Annual Family Reunions and the Gatherings of Potawatomi.

I plan to continue to hold annual District meetings at various locations in the District. I will use my monthly Hownikan column to keep the members aware of new developments, upcoming tribal functions and give recognition of individual achievements by CPN members. I will continue to expand my email list of members in the District which allows me to contact members directly about Tribal activities, upcoming events, and other items of interest. Finally, I plan to continue to hold regularly scheduled hours in my office in Topeka. This allows to me to directly assist members.

To me the most pressing issue is the future cost of providing the benefits and services we enjoy today that are funded through Tribal revenue. With the substantial growth of new members over the past couple of years I am concerned about how we are going to fund the increase costs in the future for benefits such as scholarships, mail order pharmacy, health aids, burial fund and even the Hownikan. We must continue to expand the Tribe’s economic development efforts while ensuring those we have and those in the future are generating lasting favorable revenue for the Tribe.

Finally, I strongly solicit your support for Chairman John A. “Rocky” Barrett for Chairman. I have worked for and with Chairman Barrett for the past several years and there is no one more dedicated and qualified to lead the Nation than him.

Photo by Dave Leiker

Elexa “Amo” Dawson

Bozho, jayek. Amo ndezhnekas. I am a mother, a songwriter and working entertainer, a student of sustainable agriculture, a home agriculturalist, and a community organizer. I have to be transparent. This is not a job that I am seeking because I need the work. I would not be asking you for your vote if I just wanted something to take up my time. The reason I am seeking this office is because I feel that culture, language, foods and lifeways, and environments are worth our investment and priority.

If elected, I will proudly do the work to represent the CPN members of Kansas. Potawatomi people, like all other nationalities, are a diverse group of thinkers. I can’t possibly represent every viewpoint, so I think it’s important that I’m clear about mine. We are in a time, much like other times in our history, that our family is being pulled apart over ideas about our future. 

The Hopi prophecy said it this way: You can go with the gold, or go with the green. 

My ancestral family, the Ogees and the Beaubiens, have been commerce-friendly since the beginning of contact days. Ogee is an evolved form of Augee, after Michael Augee, who was a French fur trader in the 1500s, who came to Madeline Island and married an Anishinabe woman who is unnamed in our records. The Ogees, since the early Chicago days, were industrious people. They didn’t come to Kansas on the Trail of Death. They were affluent enough to go to Council Bluffs. 

They operated successful ferries and roadhouses. They were part of the group that all CPN families were part of, the group that favored private land ownership over communal land sharing, which is what separated us from the Prairie Band in Kansas. Robert Allen Ogee was a wealthy inventor and friend of diplomats.

I’m proud of my family’s history. I’m grateful for the experiences that led to my life here, in Kansas, today. But I will seek the lessons to be learned. The generations before me made choices, and I’m here to learn from what I know, and make the choices that are honorable for me, honor my ancestors, and honor the generations that will come after me.

So, if I am elected to serve, I will serve in the best interests of the environmental health and wellness of our lands, because what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves. I will serve in the interests of the seven generations that will come after me. I will work hard to restore our language and culture to our people. I will work to build our community in Kansas and beyond, so that we can be more than just descendants, we can be who we really are: Potawatomi. 

Migweth to my elders and relatives for your guidance and support. My fire has grown through this process, thanks to my community. Igwien.