Incumbent – Mark Johnson
Headshot of Mark Johnson, District 7 incumbent

Please discuss the importance of voting in Tribal elections and being actively involved in your district. Discuss various ways you think you could increase voter turnout and/or participation in Tribal events.

Voting has been a contentious subject for many people over the last few years. What was once considered a hard-fought right for Native Americans, that wasn’t necessarily solidified for us until the 1965 Voting Rights Act, has been twisted and turned by the national parties in such a way as to spread distrust in all voting systems. Fortunately for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, we have had the ability for all voting age members to participate in our Tribal elections for years, with the ability to vote in-person in Shawnee or through absentee mail-in ballots. I believe it is each members responsibility to participate in our Tribal electoral process, it is your way to have your voice heard, and elect members who share the values that you find important for you. As a Tribal Legislator, I have had the opportunity to hear from a lot of members about our voting system, most like our system, and some take issue with it for one main reason, “I didn’t receive the ballot request form” which can almost always be traced back to not having your current address on file with the Tribe. In our highly mobile society, it is easy to forget to submit an address change form to the Tribal Rolls when you move. We also have members who are concerned with the visibility of their personal information on the outside of the ballot request postcard and the absentee ballots, which is understandable. The Tribal Legislature takes these concerns seriously and we have been working with the Election Committee on ways to remove these concerns and still conduct a secure and fair election, and I believe some commonsense changes will be made in time for the 2023 Tribal election. Remember that you can always return these ballots and request forms to the Election Committee inside of a plain envelope if you wish, but you must make sure to fill in all requested information on the forms inside. We also can do a better job, in a transparent way, of explaining the election process to our members, both through the HowNiKan and during our District meetings. It is also important that you share an email address with your District Legislator, so that you can be included in the “remember to request your ballot” emails that we all send out, plus all other important information that we can share.

With voter turnout around 10% in District 7 in a normal year, we all need to do a better job reaching out to our members and keeping them engaged with the Tribe. I believe that most members are content with the direction of the Tribe and are happy with the benefits that are available to them. Unfortunately, this can also lead to them not bothering to vote which can lead to some real unintended consequences if too many don’t vote.

The bottom line is that our Tribe doesn’t work without our members being actively engaged, we need you to take an active interest in our heritage, history, language, culture and the things that matter to you and your family. Plan a trip to the District Gathering this fall or the Family Heritage Festival and visit home. I as your Elected representative to the Legislature with continue to work towards providing the highest quality resources and benefits to you and your family.

Challenger – Browning Neddeau

Please discuss the importance of voting in Tribal elections and being actively involved in your district. Discuss various ways you think you could increase voter turnout and/or participation in Tribal events.

Widoktadwen/Community. Mawjeshnowen/Get together. What does widoktadwen mean to you? To me, it means togetherness. Migwetch/Thank you to the Tribal citizens who have been in community with me. I see and hear you. I invite you to view my community involvement at: You may notice my strong community involvement nationally, statewide, and locally permits me to build and sustain relationships throughout our Tribe.

Examples of my community involvement:

  • Organize international virtual storytelling events.
  • Create programming for national conferences.
  • Present international, national, state, and local workshops on topics such as: Native nation building, cultural [mis]appropriation, seed stories, Ethnic Studies, and visual storytelling.
  • Author an e-newsletter for District 7 Tribal citizens titled: “Ni Je Na Ginwa District 7 from Browning Neddeau.” To be added to the e-newsletter mailing list, please email me at
  • Facilitate mkesen/moccasin-making workshops.
  • Moderate the Facebook group “Ni Je Na Ginwa District 7 from Browning Neddeau.”
  • Collaborate with tribal leadership of various tribes such as: Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation, Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria, and Waccamaw Indian People.
  • Serve on Waccamaw Education Task Force by invitation.
  • Participate in powwows as a Southern Straight Dancer in California and Oklahoma.
  • Founded Native American Gathering.

Being widoktadwenek/in the community is inexorably tied to being Bodéwadmi ndaw/Potawatomi Indian. When my father, Donald LeRoy Neddeau (Pos-so), walked on from pancreatic cancer this past October, it was widoktadwen that kept the fire burning. In our Potawatomi ways, I organized a four-day fire to help my father on his journey. I reached out via social media, telephone, and email to bring people to the fire. People arrived with stories. 

Legislators are uniquely positioned to be widoktadwenek/in the community. To know and represent your community, you must be in the community and hear stories. When elected as the District 7 legislator, I promise to host two district mawjeshnowen each year in District 7, which is not the current practice in our district. The mawjeshnowen need to be accessible to the citizens to which I represent. We will come together to connect and tell stories. The future of our Tribe depends on the relationships and stories we share. 

For the month of May, I am hosting three virtual mawjeshnowen. The mawjeshnowen advertisement in the May Hownikan includes a QR Code to register for the free events. Come join the space and build community with District 7 Tribal citizens. You may email me at for additional information on the events or future opportunities to share space.

Increased voter turnout and participation in Tribal events happen when individuals feel a sense of belonging and purpose. I ask for your vote to build community, belongingness, and to keep our Potawatomi ways of knowing and doing alive. I look forward to being in widoktadwen with you, where belonging and purpose sing to our ancestors who worked so hard for us to be here. We will keep the fire burning, together. Chi migwetch/Many thanks.