Incumbent – Mark Johnson
Bozho nikanek / Hello Friends,
Election Day for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation District 7 Legislator, the last Saturday in June, is rapidly approaching. When I first ran for the position 12 years ago and was elected, I took the oath of office and made the promise that I would carry out the duties of this office and represent you, all the members of District 7, to the best of my abilities and do what was right for you now, and the generations yet to come. It is a duty that I take very seriously, and one that requires serious thought and discussion. In my opening statement for this year’s election, I spoke of how the Citizen Potawatomi Nation has faced unprecedented challenges and amazing opportunities over the last couple of years, and how we have been able to provide over $84 million dollars in direct economic support to our members impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in various programs, first through the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and then the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), including the $1,400 direct payment to every eligible member. I told you that as your Representative, I have fought to expand benefits for our members outside of Oklahoma, and how I am especially proud of the CPN Care program that has been launched this year to provide our members and their families with 24/7/365 access to quality Health Care, over the phone or online. We have built a world class Cultural Heritage Center, Language Department and Education Department to keep you connected with your heritage and make sure that you have the tools you need to succeed. Not only is the Tribe the largest employer in the County, but we also have the best employees who take great pride in serving you daily.
You know I have written and spoken during my service to you, about the attacks on our Tribal Sovereignty from outside our Tribal government and the concerted efforts to fend off those attacks. While we can hope that at some point they stop, it is likely that they will not as new state and local leaders get elected, the success of our Tribal Nation makes it an attractive target. I have worked in every way I can to solidify our Tribes financial position and grow our Tribal businesses to meet the needs not only today, but into the future, as our membership has grown past 37,000 members, so that our children and their children, and their children’s children have a Tribe and a place on earth to call home.
I am proud to carry on the traditions of my Great-great Grandfather Louis Vieux, who was also in service to you when he was chosen to represent the Tribe. I am proud to have the support of Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett and Vice-Chairman Linda Capps, and several other Legislators. In my 41-year career in the Fire Service, I found that Honor, Integrity and Cooperation were the hallmarks of great leadership, I believe that I have lived up to those standards and I hope I have earned your trust and your vote. Please take the time to return your ballot or go to the polls in Shawnee and vote. Experience Matters.
Igwien / Heartfelt Thanks
Mark Johnson / Wisk Mtek (Strong as a Tree)
Representative, District 7
Challenger – Browning Neddeau
Chi migwetch/Many thanks to the Tribal citizens who reached out and shared your stories, experiences, and hopes for our Tribe and District 7. King (2005), a Native author, wrote that the truth about stories is that is all we really are – a collection of stories. Our Tribe’s (1984) publication, Grandfather, tell me a story, echoes the role stories play in our lives. We understand the world in which we live through stories. District 7 citizens’ stories help me understand their perspectives and experiences. I am honored that citizens share stories with me as we keep the fire burning for the seven generations before and after our time. I invite you to connect with me via my website to share stories: browningneddeaucpnd7.com. You may join the Facebook group “Ni Je Na Ginwa District 7 from Browning Neddeau.”
Tribal citizens requested me to run for the District 7 legislative seat. Citizens contributed financially and with their time to share about our collective work, igwien/a heartfelt thanks. Additionally, they expressed grave concerns over the current lack of presence within District 7. We currently do not have regularly planned opportunities in District 7 further perpetuating a lack of belonging, opportunity to hear stories, and relationship building. As a community organizer and published Potawatomi scholar, I am excited about serving as the District 7 legislator to build our community that so anxiously awaits the attention we deserve.
Tribal citizens are encouraged to be active in our Tribe, yet leadership engages in divisive political advertisements instead of celebrating the assets of all candidates. When incumbents who frequently agree with leadership are challenged in Tribal elections, Tribal leaders promote a culture of power (Delpit, 1988) which is a reactionary approach to maintaining power. This Eurocentric practice is not what it means to be Bodéwadmi ndaw/Potawatomi Indian. When citizens seek involvement in our Tribal government, it is met with fear and practices designed for those in power to remain in power. I, however, advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion amplified over exclusion. How can we hear, learn, and grow from our collective stories if the only story Tribal leadership wants to hear is their own? I look forward to a Tribal government that centers the Seven Grandfather Teachings which includes the gift of truth.
I humbly ask for your vote as the District 7 legislator. Our collective stories feed the fire of what it means to be Bodéwadmi ndaw/Potawatomi Indian. Cultural survivance (Vizenor, 2009) is tied not only to stories we are told, but the stories we tell. Jagenaganon/All my relations.
Citizen Band Potawatomi Tribe (1984). Grandfather, tell me a story. The National Endowment for the Humanities.
Delpit, L. (1988). The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people’s children. Harvard Educational Review, 58(3), 280-298.
King, T. (2005). The truth about stories: A Native narrative. University of Minnesota Press.
Vizenor, G. (2009). Native liberty: Natural reason and cultural survivance. UNP – Nebraska. Paperback.