By Justin Neely, CPN Language Department Director

Bozho jayek
(Hello everyone),

We are planning our annual winter storytelling event for Thursday, March 3, at the Cultural Heritage Center from 6 to 8 p.m. We are planning on doing this event in person, but things can change. Last year, we did the event online only. We will also have the event online for folks who would like to join us from afar. We have certain stories traditionally that can only be told in the wintertime, preferably when there is snow on the ground. In the winter, they say the spirits are asleep and the earth is asleep. So this is when our ancestors would tell stories that involved Wiske or Nanabozho “The Trickster” in Potawatomi stories. If you plan on attending, please RSVP at so we can get some kind of head count. We plan on having food and drinks as well.

We have an ongoing intermediate class that meets every Monday and Thursday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Even though it’s called intermediate, I guarantee anyone interested in the language will enjoy the class. We also stream the class on Zoom. After the class finishes, usually the following week we edit the recording and then post on our YouTube channel.

Gde-dewegemen ngot gishgok mine nyew gishgok zhi nso dbegnek nash nyew dbegenak. We drum every Monday and Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. We are getting ready for and excited for the upcoming Family Reunion Festival. As many of you may know, we have drummed at our handgames for a number of years and are hoping to be ready and able to drum during the dance itself. If you are interested in drumming, drop me an email or just drop by during those times. As we get closer to Festival, we will probably drum some on the weekends as well. We can get you the songs and help you learn if it’s something you would like to do.

Speaking of YouTube, we have two YouTube channels: one for children and one geared for adult learners. Our online dictionary at is growing each week. We have close to 10,000 words and just reached 70 percent audio files for the words. We also have two online courses at One is called “A Day in the Life Potawatomi” and the other “Conversational Potawatomi.” We also plan to have a new platform soon, which we currently use for our high school and middle school courses.

Take some time to try and get involved in our culture. Start learning the language or attend a craft class at the Cultural Heritage Center. Start putting together regalia to dance at the Festival. Learn some traditional recipes or perhaps some drum songs. I believe we are in the Seventh Fire, the time for us to pick up those things that have been left behind. Now is your time to learn what it truly means to be Potawatomi. Here is a little winter story for you to enjoy: Wiske & Maple Syrup. Maple syrup was a staple of our diets when we lived in the Great Lakes. It’s how we seasoned our food. It is quite a process to tap the tree and boil the sugar down. This is why we have to do that today. It used to be Wenpengede. Easy.

Wiske mine Zisbakwet

Wiske and Maple Syrup

Bnewi kshamnedo ga gishtot ode bmadzewen wenpendek. Manek wesiyek mine pene shena mno gishgek. Jésh zisbakwet jayek emijwat.

Long ago, this life that was created by the Creator was easy. There was an abundance of animals, and the weather was always nice. There was always plenty of maple syrup for the people to eat.

Gispen nedwendemen anet zisbakwet mteno gbokbdon I mtekwen mine wjegemgek gechwa zibe.

If you wanted some maple syrup, you only had to break a branch, and it would flow out like a river.

Ngot gishek Wiske ga pabmoset mine nedwendek mbwachewet gi Neshnabek. Cho bmadzejek ga bwa gwedemojgewat anake bwa gtegewat. Ge winwa Cho wiye bwa minkewat mine bwa dneswat odanek.

One day, Wiske was walking along and wanted to visit the Neshnabek. No people were hunting, and no people were gardening. They also weren’t picking berries, and they were hanging around the village.

Gekpi mkowan ni bmadzeyen yatwashewat ge winwa emnekwewat ode zisbakwet.

Finally, he found the people lying on their backs and drinking maple syrup.

Wiske nendek gaga she yabyetzewat mine gishgamwat.

Wiske thought, “Soon they are going to become lazy and fat.”

Wiske ga zhyat jigbyek. Mine nadet anet mbish etot bidek gi mtekok.

Wiske went down by the river. He fetched some water and put it inside the tree.

Ode jo pi ngom gishpen bmadzejek nedwendemwat anet zisbakwet abdek ekchemikchewiwat.

Now today, if people want some maple syrup, they have to work very hard.

Ge winwa skegmedemget ode zisbakwet mine cho megwa bwa wjegemgek gechwa zibe.

They also have to boil down the maple syrup. No longer will it flow out of the tree like a river.