During the 2022 Citizen Potawatomi Nation Family Reunion Festival, the Tribe’s Cultural Heritage Center hopes to collect many family heritage interviews during the celebration. The process to schedule family heritage interviews has changed slightly but remains quick and convenient.
In prior years, the honored families had a pre-scheduled time to participate in interviews. This year, all families may use the Festival Interview link on the Potawatomi portal to schedule an interview time.
“We had to think about how we could still encourage people to come up and make sure that we’re capturing interviews. In the last year, especially with the pandemic, the IT department has developed the portal system,” said CHC Director Dr. Kelli Mosteller.
Tribal members may already be familiar with the portal as the one-stop location to manage everything from scholarship applications to address changes.
“I think a lot of our Tribal members know the portal is the place where they signed up for their CARES (Act) and ARPA money and the same place they go to enroll a new child,” Dr. Mosteller said. “It’s sort of the hub of everything.”
She said a new section of the portal allows Tribal members to log in and select a 30-minute time slot for an interview.
“You can do an individual interview, or if you want to, get your grandma and aunts and uncles and all go to a big family interview,” she said.
Dr. Mosteller and the CHC staff envision the online scheduling as an annual Festival feature, with its ease, convenience and ability to schedule interviews around various Festival activities.
“Let’s say someone signed up for a class, and they’re in the class making moccasins during the time when their family interviews slot is supposed to happen,” Dr. Mosteller said. “This lets people schedule the rest of their Festival activities — games they want to play, activities they want to participate in — and then slot the interview in at a time that is the most convenient for them.”
No matter what time people select, preparation for the family history interviews is easy, she said.
“After they sign up, we will reach out to them via email, giving them a questionnaire,” Dr. Mosteller said. “These are not the only questions that will be asked, but I think it helps people have conversations among their family ahead of time to talk about family history.”
CHC staff encourages Tribal members to bring family heirlooms and include those during the interview as well.
Scheduling through the portal also reduces the wait time usually associated with the interview process. Participants can complete the paperwork ahead of time, allowing CHC staff to jump right into interviews.
“You’ll already be familiar with the kinds of questions we’re going to ask,” Dr. Mosteller said. “We start with those core questions that we use to spur people’s memories and get them talking. Then the interview sort of takes on a life of its own.”
After the interview is complete, Tribal members then decide how the information is maintained.
“They will be able to access a copy if they so choose. It will also be stored at the Heritage Center where they get to choose whether or not it is (publicly) viewable,” Dr. Mosteller said. “They will have full control over what level of access other people have.”
Mosteller said the CHC staff understands not all families want their information widely shared and are prepared to observe any privacy restrictions.
To schedule your family interview, visit the portal at portal.potawatomi.org. For more information, call the CHC at 405-878-5830.