Tribal Chairman – John “Rocky” Barrett

Headshot of CPN Tribal Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett

Bozho nikan
(Hello friend),

Citizen Potawatomi Nation enrollment is based on the connection to an ancestor on our Tribal Rolls. While many Tribes operate this way, I believe that CPN is special in recognizing and learning about those founding families. To recognize their sacrifice and encourage our citizens to learn more about their history, we began honoring these founding families each year at our Family Reunion Festival.

We haven’t had honored families since 2019 due to the cancellation of the Festival in 2020 and 2021. This year’s Festival honored all the Tribal members Citizen Potawatomi Nation has lost due to COVID-19, and we took the opportunity to revise the Honored Families schedule for the next several years.

Honored Families began in 1998, when the Tribe changed the format of the annual powwow from an open event to one specifically for Citizen Potawatomi and renamed it the Family Reunion Festival. Prior to this change, many of our members found it difficult to identify each other and meet relatives of their larger Potawatomi families.

Along with the format change, we decided to honor 7 to 9 families each year who moved from Kansas to what was then Indian Territory beginning in 1872. Those who relocated formed what eventually became the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. We put the families in a rotating cycle, and many times it serves as a special incentive for out-of-state Tribal members to travel to CPN the year their family is on the list.

You may notice some changes from the past. We reorganized family groups so that families with larger enrollment are not all in the same group. We believe this will help us to host about the same number of honored attendees each year. This will allow everyone a chance to participate in activities and have equal recognition.

During Festival, each honored family has a marked section of the Round House as a place to gather, and during the Saturday evening powwow, the honored families follow CPN’s government leaders and Veterans’ Organization Color Guard during Grand Entry.

Some plan beforehand and make special shirts or hats to easily find each other and stand out in the Honored Families photo. Many also make teams of eight for hand games Friday night for a bit of fun family rivalry. If your family is among the families being honored in 2023, now is the time to plan your regalia so that you can dance.
Please review the schedule at and make plans to attend, especially the year your family is being honored.

(Thank you),
John “Rocky” Barrett
(He Leads Them Home)
Tribal Chairman

Vice-Chairman – Linda Capps

Headshot of CPN Tribal Vice-Chairman Linda Capps.


This is an appropriate summer to thank the people that are affiliated with the Nation in various ways. I want to begin by thanking the Tribal members — the core of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. I have said it dozens of times in the past and, no doubt, will say it in the future; this great Nation belongs to you. You are the key element of the Nation. You have the right to interact, ask questions, provide comments and reap the benefits that are provided for you by the Nation. We would have no Tribe without our Tribal members.

Thanks goes to our legislators who have performed a superb job during the past 15 years. We are fortunate to have such competent and dedicated Tribal members serving in a legislative capacity. Our legislators give of their talents, time and resources beyond what is expected. I commend their supreme efforts in reaching out to their constituents on a regular basis, while handling their governmental duties. Each have a deep appreciation and love for this Tribe.

Of course, highly deserving of my praise are our CPN employees. What great employees we have! It is common knowledge that I refer to them as the “best of the best.” They prove this daily. The Tribe held both our annual Family Reunion Festival in June and then the fifth annual FireLake Fireflight Balloon Festival in August. Our employees are the ones that do the lion’s share of work for these events.

This has been one of Oklahoma’s hottest summers on record. Since the end of May, we have had numerous days that topped 100 degrees in temperature, but it is always hot in Oklahoma during the summer. Our employees jump right in for these two events and prove their resilience and diligence, regardless of the heat. I am so thankful to each employee that worked so hard this summer. May they be truly blessed.

All our employees are highly deserving of my praise. They are the glue that keeps our Tribe together when we grow, develop new programs and expand our horizons. They are the ingredient that keeps us visible in the community, respected by other organizations, valued as contributors and appreciated by our own Tribal members. They are in the trenches and on the front lines. We are truly fortunate to have such capable employees at CPN.

Along with our Tribal members, legislators and employees, we salute the throng of people that do business with CPN programs and enterprises. We appreciate the customers, clients and patients that we see on both a regular and occasional basis. We depend on them at our enterprises and within the programs that provide services to our Native and non-Native population. It is my sincere desire that each enterprise, program and service constantly strive to provide a quality product. I would hope that “quality service every time” is a common theme throughout CPN.

I wish for you to see the greatness of CPN from this praise round-up. All the above components are in my heart and on my mind on a regular basis. I need to express it more often.

I cherish the opportunity to be your Vice-Chairman.
My best,

Linda Capps
(Black Bird Woman)
405-275-3121 work
405-650-1238 cell

District 1 – Alan Melot

Headshot of CPN District 1 Legislator Alan Melot.

Bozho jayëk
(Hello everyone),

School is back in session, and summer is winding down. Fall will be here soon!
I missed being able to go to the 2022 Potawatomi Gathering. A series of unfortunate events prevented me from attending, and I definitely look forward to being there next year. It was a treat, however, to be able to see the pictures and stories many of you shared on social media. I was able to share in the Gathering vicariously through social media and appreciate each of you who participated and were willing to let us enjoy your trip from the sidelines.

Plans are underway for a district meeting in Blue Springs, Missouri, in October. I am coordinating with District 4 Legislator Jon Boursaw for the Kansas City area meeting. Look for details on that meeting in Jon’s column below. In short, we will meet on Saturday, October 22 at 10 a.m. with presentations and lunch at the Adams Pointe Conference Center Courtyard Marriott KC East. Please RSVP to me or Jon at either of our listed emails or phone numbers by October 18.

I have decided to postpone a district meeting in the New England area until next year. I’ve heard from several of you back East that you want to get together and have a meeting. I absolutely want to get together with you, but I’ve put the planning off for longer than I should have and now don’t have the time to get things together like I want. This is my fault, and you have my apologies for dropping the ball on something I had said I would do. If you are in the eastern part of District 1, please get in touch with me so I know who and where you are in order to plan for a meeting!

The Potawatomi Trail of Death Association will have a presence at the Fulton County Historical Society Trail of Courage event near Rochester, Indiana, on September 17 and 18. This event is aimed at re-creating a pre-1840 atmosphere with a wide variety of vendors and activities. Among those things are Potawatomi influences and involvement in the area. I plan to attend and would love to see any of you who are able to come. You can find more information at if you are interested.

Part of my work as a therapist focuses heavily on acknowledging thoughts and feelings as they are. This past month or two have been difficult for me, and I have felt depleted, both personally and professionally. Throughout this tough time, I have had the privilege of having my dad, Jerry Melot, stand by my side and be supportive, and I want to recognize him here. My heart is full of gratitude for my dad. My dad has been my friend since I was born, teaching me how to be a man and pursue what is right. My dad has demonstrated integrity and bravery in difficulty, wisdom in uncertainty, respect for his and others’ boundaries, honesty with his own strengths and weaknesses, humility with his willingness to pursue continual growth, truth in acknowledging situations and people for what they are, and love demonstrated in his heart of service toward others. Dad leads by example with these teachings and has taken time to heal from his traumatic upbringing and broken cycles of violence and dysfunction. Dad invested a lot of time in me, and with activities ranging from taking me backpacking often to making me mow the yard, passed on life lessons that have been enriching and given me purpose and direction. Thank you, Dad, for being a gift and example to our family and our Potawatomi Nation.

It has been a privilege to serve as your Legislator for this past year. I look forward to hearing from you, whether on how I can do better or serve you in any way, or just to say hello!

(That’s all),

Alan Melot
Legislator, District 1
608 S. Sergeant
Joplin, MO 64801

District 2 – Eva Marie Carney

Headshot of CPN District 2 Legislator Eva Marie Carney.

Bozho nikanek
(Hello friends),

Update on our Little Rock meeting
We had a good turnout for our Little Rock meeting. We also had a heartwarming, and relatively common outcome at District meetings: two Citizen Potawatomi sat next to each other as the meeting began and discovered they were close neighbors. They found they had even more in common than their Citizen Potawatomi heritage. I believe they will become good friends. This is what can happen during District gatherings; I hope you’ll attend all that are within striking distance and experience a similar sense of family.

I’ve included a few photos taken by our Little Rock host, Dixie Morgan Quinn Nelson/Mmkebdemkokwe and her spouse, Jonathan Nelson. One is of our wisest attendee, Sheila Hill, who told the group that she is one of a set of triplets, all of whom would be celebrating their birthday in the week after our meeting.

Migwetch (thank you) to Dixie for securing us the space and to Dixie and Jon for helping with set up and clean up.

Among our meeting activities were family visiting, a hand games demonstration and a good lunch. We had a Potawatomi prayer said before lunch, and as I promised CPN District 2 citizen Ted Wolfelt I would do, I read a passage from a book Ted gifted me when we met up during the April Clearwater, Florida, meeting. Ted had me promise to share something from the book, Native American Wisdom (Kristen Maree Cleary, editor, 1996) at future District 2 events. Here’s the short piece I read, attributed to Potawatomi Senachwine:

For more than seventy years I have hunted in this grove and fished in this stream, and for many years I have worshipped on this ground. Through these groves and over these prairies in pursuit of game our fathers roamed, and by them this land was left unto us as a heritage forever.

Today, I’m packing my bags to head off to the beautiful groves and streams of the Hannahville Indian Community, our hosts for the 2022 Gathering of the Potawatomi Nations. I will write about the visit in my October column.

Upcoming events
Please mark your calendar and RSVP to our District 2 Fall Feast, scheduled for Saturday, November 12. It will take place in the parish hall of the Little Falls Presbyterian Church, 6025 Little Falls Road, Arlington, Virginia, 22207 ( Bring favorite dishes (with recipes, if you’d like) to share. I will provide the turkey and a vegan main dish along with beverages. We will visit, make traditional rattles out of elk and bison hide, and share a family meal. Children are welcome. The craft is appropriate for children 8 and up with one-to-one adult supervision. RSVPs are requested — email or call me, please. Postcard invitations will be mailed, but please know that you do not need to receive a mailed invitation to join us — and you don’t need to live in District 2. All are welcome.

The Feast takes place during the long weekend of events celebrating Native American veterans and the completion of the National Native American Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). To register for the procession and for all other details, visit The NMAI will host three days of celebrations November 12 through 14 — the Fall Feast location is a short Uber or cab ride from the NMAI. Consider spending the weekend in the area!

Please keep in touch
I look forward to hearing from you! Migwetch (thank you) for the honor of representing you.

Bama mine

Eva Marie Carney
Ojindiskwe (Blue Bird Woman)
Legislator, District 2
5877 Washington Boulevard
PO Box 5591
Arlington, VA 22205
888-849-1484 toll-free

District 3 – Bob Whistler

Headshot of CPN District 3 Legislator Bob Whistler.

Bozho ginwa
(Hello everyone),

Two and a half years ago, about 70 educators from Texas and Oklahoma, along with over 50 representatives from the 170 American Indian Nations citizens living in Texas, met in Grand Prairie, Texas. Our objective was to investigate the possibility of creating a high school ethnic class on American Indian Native Studies. The class would encompass culture, heritage, history and sovereignty. I, along with District 3 citizen Carl Kurtz, participated in the creation of this program. In June, I was a delegate of the committee to represent our group along with five others to convert our program under the guidance of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) into a formal program for the Texas school system. On August 1, I made a brief two-minute presentation on our program along with many others to the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). I stressed that there are over 350,000 members of Native American Nations living in Texas whose children attend Texas schools. I included the fact that I represent over 2,800 of our citizens that live in Texas. In my presentation, I advised that I have had complaints from my own constituents and others of violations in the areas of our culture, heritage, history and sovereignty by teachers, schools and non-Native students. The incidents are a direct result of a lack of knowledge by literally almost every Texan about the 574 sovereign Native American Nations in the U.S. and the dire need for this ethnic class. Aug. 1, 2022, was the first reading to the SBOE, and comments of support from citizens are needed in order for them to recognize that hundreds in the Texas population firmly believe this ethnic class is needed. My single presentation in representing you is minimal at best, considering there may be others that do not wish this class to be created because they are embarrassed that their classes now exclude practically all information about us. They are ashamed that many hundreds of Native American children between 1870 and 1984 were all but kidnapped from their parents and shipped off to so-called Indian schools. Many of these children were brutally whipped or had lye put in their mouths because they were speaking their language at the school. Jim Thorpe’s twin brother died at Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. The truth is now coming out from the elders that lived through some “12 years of hell” that they spent in these schools. While our class doesn’t specifically talk about that exact cruelty, there are many areas where we have positives about ourselves as well as information on broken treaties and stolen land. This needs to come out in our education system, and I need your support. Please go online and write to the TEA! For anyone who wants to physically review our work and would like a copy, simply email me, and I will forward a copy of a link to view the draft presented to SBOE. Our program is on pages 110 through 126.

TEA requires that your email provide specific comments and recommendations for a work group, so please identify the work group in the subject line of the email. For our program, please indicate “Social Studies TEKS Review Work Group E American Indian/Native Studies Feedback” in the subject line. Your comments can read something like, “The content for the ethnic class is good over the time period covered, and the class is needed in order to prepare our children for future years and college.” As a point of information, this is a one-year class, and due to the class time limit, we had to make choices on what to include. It would be much more than a one-year class had we covered more history and other areas that you think we didn’t highlight. We need positive comments so this program moves ahead. Negative comments could lead to the SBOE telling us to start over. Please submit your reinforcing comments to TEA at I urge you to send in those emails! They are needed, and please use comments that are positive about the need you are stressing. Migwetch!

Jim Thorpe
On July 15, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially acknowledged Jim Thorpe as the sole champion of the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games. Jim Thorpe, a Potawatomi descendant and Sac and Fox Nation tribal member, is the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States in the Olympic Games. In 1913, the IOC stripped Thorpe of his gold medals for having played minor league baseball for meager earnings while he was in college. His family has been fighting for this reinstatement for literally the last 100 years.

As mentioned in my article last month, the 10th anniversary of American Indian Heritage Day of Texas will be celebrated on Saturday, September 24 this year. It is to be held at the Trammell Crow Park at the Trinity (Arkikosa) River in Dallas. The “River of the Canoes” theme will feature a variety of ceremonies on the 24th. Powwow times are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The address is 3710 Sylvan Ave., Dallas, Texas. Directions from various locations in both Texas and Oklahoma may be found at in the powwow section. There will be vendors there with various crafts. It is recommended that you bring your own seating since it is an open, natural park on the river bed. Also bring your own food and water as there will not be any food or water vendors at the event.

For the last several months, the TV news media, our President and the gas industry firms have all been telling us about the oil shortage. They state that is the reason for literally double the price we pay for our gasoline compared to last year. Our government claims the oil companies have leases that allow them to drill for oil. However, the fact is the leases are worthless since the companies drilled on that land years ago and have extracted all of the available oil. They need to have new areas authorized for exploration, and the U.S. government will not provide that approval. Based on some scientific research, it has been alleged that the U.S. has more oil reserves beneath various areas in our country than the entire rest of the world. In the meantime, the oil companies are buying oil from other nations at a very high price. In June, our President authorized the oil companies to increase the amount of ethanol added to current gasoline. The press and oil companies have made little notice of this. The addition of ethanol has accomplished the following: provides a full tank of fuel. However, because there is less actual gasoline in this new mixture, our mile per gallon of fuel has dropped by around 20 percent. Yes, we are seeing some reduction in what we pay in the last few weeks, but it is not even close to what the gasoline companies are making with this change in the fuel composition. Do the math. $2 to $4 is a 200 percent increase. A price drop from $4 to $3.65 is an 8.75 percent decrease in price coupled with our 20 percent loss in fuel mileage per gallon. The gas companies did reduce our price marginally but very minimal compared to what they gained in profit compared to our losses in mileage. We need to insist that the President cancel the increase in ethanol and bring the fuel back to the prior percent of oil converted to gasoline level. This deception is very similar to what the food companies have done by reducing the content of packages but keeping the size of the package the same. I recently saw a Snickers candy bar that is now selling for close to $2 that in the 1940s was 5 cents, a 4,000 percent change in 80 years or 50 percent per year over that period. This recent gasoline change is four times that yearly average. It would be nice if the press and others would simply tell us all of the facts and not hide the negative side through deception by omission. From a legal standpoint, they are basically breaking the law.

I was very much aware of the mileage difference immediately since I keep daily records of my driving for tax purposes. My in-the-city gas mileage dropped from 21 mpg to 17 mpg or 19 percent. My highway mileage dropped from 24.4 to 18.4 which is a 24.6 percent loss. So, I am saying it is around 20 percent as an average. Most of my driving is on the highway, which is why I noticed the variance so quickly. I went to the dealer to see if a recent tune-up had created the problem, and they confirmed that they were getting numerous complaints about miles per gallon decreases. The dealer confirmed that when they do a tune-up all they do is change out the spark plugs. They do not change any setting on the fuel injection system. In earlier times when we had carburetors, we could lean out the fuel mixture and use a “hotter” spark plug to increase mileage. You had to be careful not to overheat the engine due to preignitions with the stronger spark plug. This is no longer an option with current fuel injection systems due to cost and ongoing maintenance.

Dancing For Our Tribe
In my July article, I advised how to secure a copy of this 304-page 10×13 inch hardcopy book from Amazon containing 272 color and 32 black-and-white photos of members of the nine Potawatomi Nations created by District 1 Tribal member Sharon Hoogstraten. I am at the Gathering this year hosted by Hannahville, and I met briefly with Sharon. Sharon made a presentation at the Gathering and sold several copies of her beautiful books. I managed to get a photo of Sharon as she sold a copy of the book to Oklahoma district CPN member Kristen Arambula Hernandez. A copy of the photo showing them and the book was submitted with this article. Sharon suggests you buy the book from Oklahoma University Press. They have one of the best Indigenous booklists in the country, and she is very proud that they have added her book to their collection. In my own opinion, I believe this is also a great move to support a firm in Oklahoma since that is where CPN is headquartered. The book is $80 and may be ordered online. Go to and scroll through the book list to find the link to order this wonderful volume depicting our people in regalia.

As mentioned directly above, I attended the Gathering this year the last week in July hosted by the Hannahville Potawatomi Nation. The first two days are devoted to language and history. I found it very worthwhile and learned some new things about our history as well as in the language area. On the second day in the language class agenda, I attended a very good class hosted by District 1 Tribal member Wkenodan Gétgadékwen. He is a 16-year-old who has literally become very proficient in our language in just three years through the use of stories and making the decision to concentrate on learning the language. Justin Neely, our Language Department director, had suggested I attend his class, and I found it to be a good experience. When we moved into the formal powwow side of the Gathering, there were many crafts available, and I was able to make a rattle. I had the opportunity to take a couple of photos of CPN members involved in some of the events, which I believe you will enjoy. District 5 Tribal member Dorothy Horvak participated in the mile walk on Saturday. A photo of her on the trail is attached. I also visited their cultural center and found that an elder lady’s skirt-making class was underway. CPN members Theresa Talbot, Margaret Zientek and Joan Atkins modeled their new skirts for me under a special marquee that Hannahville had setup on one of their walls. A photo of that is also attached. At the tribal leaders’ meeting on Friday, we voted to accept the Ojibway Tribe Kettle and Stony Point First Nation into our Potawatomi membership. This now brings our number to 12 nations. Five are in Canada and seven are in the U.S. Also at the meeting, a gift of the book by Sharon Hoogstraten was made from Hannahville to our Chairman for our library at the Cultural Heritage Center as a good permanent historical record of the regalia worn during these times.

District 3 meeting
A District 3 meeting will be held on Saturday, September 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. We will meet at the Dallas Urban Inter-Tribal Center. The address is 1283 Record Crossing Rd., Dallas, Texas, 75235. A light lunch will be served. Please RSVP to or call 817-229-6271, giving your name and the number in your party planning to attend by Friday, September 9. This site was chosen so that those attending will know where this facility is located since you are eligible to receive non-emergency medical treatment there at no charge. It is nonprofit and will accept your insurance information for third-party billing. You are not responsible for any co-pay.
I look forward to seeing those of you that are able to attend the September 17 meeting. It is an honor to serve as your elected District 3 representative. I am your voice and am here to help on Tribal matters where you have questions. So, please contact me when you feel I may be of assistance.


Bob Whistler
Bmashi (He Soars)
Legislator, District 3
112 Bedford Road, Suite 116
Bedford, TX 76022
817-229-6271 cell

District 4 – Jon Boursaw

Headshot of CPN District 4 Legislator Jon Boursaw.


2022 Potawatomi Gathering
I returned yesterday from the Gathering hosted by the Hannahville Indian Community, who are located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was a beautiful site to have the Gathering. The Hannahville tribe recently built a beautiful, covered arena with an artificial dance surface that was like walking on thick carpet. As always, the Gathering offered me the opportunity to see and converse with friends from the other Potawatomi tribes. But what everyone enjoyed were the cool temperatures, with mornings in the mid-50s and the highs in the upper 70s and low 80s. Next year, the Gathering will be hosted by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, located near Battle Creek, Michigan. You should plan on attending.

Put It on Your Calendar — 2022 District 4 Meetings

I have scheduled three District 4 Meetings for this fall. They are:

Rossville, Kansas: CPN Community Center in Rossville on Saturday, October 8 at 10 a.m.
Due to last minute cancellations, the meeting program is presently under development. Lunch will be served at noon. After lunch, I would like to show a few of our CPN Veteran DVDs. Please RSVP by 5 p.m, Tuesday, October 4, by calling me at 785-608-1982 or emailing me at You can also call Lyman Boursaw at 785-584-6401. Please identify which meeting you plan to attend.

Wichita, Kansas: All-Indian Center, located at 650 N. Seneca St. on Sunday, October 16 at 1 p.m.
We will begin with a lunch at 1 p.m. I have been assured that a member of the CPN Health Services Program will be available to describe what services in our clinics in Shawnee, Oklahoma, are available to CPN members in Kansas. Time permitting, I would like to show a few of our CPN Veteran DVDs. Please RSVP by 5 p.m., Tuesday, October 12, by calling me at 785-608-1982 or emailing me at Please identify which meeting you plan to attend.

Greater Kansas City Area: Adams Pointe Conference Center Courtyard Marriott KC East, 1500 NE Coronado Drive, Blue Springs, MO 64014 on Saturday, October 22 at 10 a.m. This is a joint meeting with the CPN members from District 1 and their Legislator Alan Melot. We have invited CPN Chief District Judge Philip Lujan and CPN Adult Protective Services Director Janet Draper to speak. Judge Lujan will describe how the CPN court system works, and Janet will talk about her relatively new program. I’ve heard them both speak previously, and I am confident you will enjoy their presentations. Lunch will follow their presentations. Please RSVP by 5 p.m., Tuesday, October 18, by calling me at 785-608-1982, or emailing me at Be sure to indicate which meeting you plan to attend.

Upcoming CPN Elders’ Potlucks

The dates for the next two Elder Potlucks held in CPN Community Center in Rossville at noon are:

September 9: Roast Beef and mashed potatoes. RSVP by the 6th
October 14: Breakfast Casserole with Biscuits and Fry Bread Nuggets & Sausage Gravy. RSVP by the 11th

Come join us and bring your favorite side dish or dessert. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Tracy or Brenda at 785-584-6171. Masks are not required but highly recommended.

Flu Shots
If you haven’t received your flu shots, you can check with Tracy Kinderknecht, our Senior Support Network RN in Rossville, to see if she still has shots available. She can be reached at 785-584-6171.

Sugar Creek Tour
Tracy and I would like to conduct a tour of the location of what had been the Sugar Creek Reservation in Lynn County, the final stop for the Potawatomi Trail of Death. We are looking at either Tuesday, October 11 or Thursday, October 13. This will be a full day venture. If you are interested, please let either Tracy or I know. Tracy’s number is 785-584-6171. Mine is listed below.

Honored to serve you
It is an honor to serve you as your district representative. I appreciate hearing from CPN members in Kansas, whether in the form of a letter, email, phone call or in the office. Please let me know how I can be of assistance to you. If you are not receiving emails from me, it is because I do not have your current email address or what I have is incorrect. All you need to do is send me your email address, and I will enter you into my District 4 information file. My contact information is listed below.

(Thank you),

Jon Boursaw,
Wetase Mkoh (Brave Bear)
Representative, District 4
2007 SW Gage Blvd.
Topeka, KS 66604
785-861-7272 office
785-608-1982 cell
Office hours:
9-11 a.m. Tuesdays
3-5 p.m. Thursdays
Other times: please call

District 6 – Rande K. Payne

Headshot of CPN District 6 Legislator Rande Payne.

Bozho nikanek
(Hello friends),

Greetings from the breadbasket of the world. As the dog days of summer begin to give way to cooler temperatures and shorter days, it seems we may have survived a third consecutive year of drought. January, February and March were the driest in over 100 years. As the water wars heat up between environmental groups and agricultural and municipal stakeholders, California added nearly $3 billion to the 2022 state budget for drought relief. Sadly, the money is primarily directed at programs that are band-aids to get through another dry year and do little to improve long term water supply for the state. We’re living in the midst of a perfect storm: changing climate, increased demand for water, dwindling supplies and an aging water infrastructure. California’s population has increased from 10 million to nearly 40 million since the last meaningful water infrastructure projects were completed.

California has managed its water about as well as it has managed its forests. But I believe there is hope. While we never hear from state officials that they got it wrong, we are starting to see a quiet and subtle shift back to forest management practices that were in place prior to environmental groups and so-called government experts shutting them down. I believe the same will hold true with water. Just as successive years of mega-fires are forcing change, the increasing demand for water combined with a fragile supply system will also force change. The entire western border of the state is the Pacific Ocean. They say that desalination isn’t cost effective, but neither are electric cars, yet here they are. All our challenges have solutions. It’s unfortunate that politics seem to always get in the way.

I would like to thank District 6 Tribal member Jack Mitchell for letting me know about a program to help Native American college students with tuition and student services. The University of California’s Native American Opportunity Plan ensures that in-state systemwide tuition and student services fees are fully covered for California students who are also enrolled in federally recognized Native American, American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. This plan applies to undergraduate and graduate students. If you are an enrolled CPN tribal member, you are eligible for the Native American Opportunity Plan. Your in-state, systemwide tuition and student services fees will be fully covered either by UC financial aid or another federal, state or other financial aid program.
Students with greater financial needs can qualify for even more grant support to help pay other educational expenses, like books, housing, transportation and more.
You don’t need to fill out a separate application to qualify for the Native American Opportunity Plan. If you qualify, UC will contact you directly with further instructions. If you think you may qualify and have not been contacted by UC, reach out to your Native American student resource or community center or campus financial aid office.
For more information and applications simply visit the University of California admissions website at

In closing, I would like to invite you to the annual District 6 & 7 Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 22. The Festival will start at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. There will be CPN news updates, an interactive Q&A session, craft making and, of course, a great lunch. Postcard invites will go out soon. RSVP on Eventbrite at Mark and I look forward to seeing you in October!

Potawatomi Word of the Month: bisa – rain

Words of Wisdom: “In leadership, focused passion accomplishes much more than merely considering an intellectual, scholarly approach.” – Fred Smith

Wisdom from the Word: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

Migwetch! Bama mine
(Thank you! Later again),

Rande K. Payne
Mnedo Gabo
Legislator, District 6
31150 Road 180
Visalia, CA 93292-9585
559-999-3525 office
559-999-5411 cell

District 7 – Mark Johnson

Headshot of Mark Johnson, District 7 incumbent

Bozho nikanek
(Hello friends),

On Saturday, October 22, Rande Payne and myself will be hosting a combined District 6 and 7 meeting and Fall Heritage Festival in Visalia, California. You will be receiving your invitation postcard. Please RSVP if you would like to attend; you can register online at

August in California can be a brutal exercise in the art of self-preservation at times. As we entered the month, we were in a two and a half week stretch of 100°+ days. If there can be a bright spot in that, generally the humidity stays relatively low in California, so when you go outside, it’s more like sticking your head in an oven than it is a sauna, like Oklahoma can be at times. With our first calves due starting the third week of September through the end of October, I always get a bit nervous. Our animals are family to us and a bridge to my heritage. My grandfather, on his summer outings from the Carlisle Indian School, worked on a dairy farm in New Jersey and when he returned home to his allotment in Shawnee, he continued to raise cattle. I often wonder if he had the same concerns and worries that I do, just in a different context of time. Well, most likely some of them are, but in general, I think we have it much easier than our grandparents did, and you notice I didn’t use the word better because I think in a lot of ways, with all the hardships, they had a better, simpler life — not in all ways but in many.

I would invite you to explore your heritage with our Tribe at the Cultural Heritage Center website at Take a look around the site and explore the many items that are available to you with just a click. Our team at the Cultural Heritage Center has done an outstanding job making information available to you.

Once again, I would like to say what an honor it is to serve you as your District 7 legislator. As always, give me a call, and I will be happy to work with you on any questions you may have or provide you with additional information you may need to access Tribal benefits that are available. Please also take the time to give me a call or send me an email with your contact information so that I can keep you informed of the happenings within the Nation and District.

(Thank you),

Mark Johnson
Wisk Mtek (Strong as a Tree)
Legislator, District 7
1565 Shaw Ave., Suite 202
Clovis, CA 93611
559-351-0078 cell

District 8 – Dave Carney

Headshot of CPN District 8 Legislator Dave Carney.

Bohzo nikan
(Hello friend),

I am writing this column on the last day of July, and it is a sweltering 95 degrees. I know many of the Tribe’s citizens across the USA have no sympathy for me when I say that — particularly those in the sunbelt. However, 95 degrees in Olympia, Washington, is unusual and uncomfortable. I am not sure how my “cousins” in Oklahoma tolerate the many 100+ degree days every summer. I am certain that most would not swap that for six months of rain that occurs in the Pacific Northwest.

Weather dictates what we do, where we go, what food we eat, how we recreate — and so many other things. It was even more so in the days of our ancestors. This is on display in the Cultural Heritage Center at the Nation. According to Dr. Kelli Mosteller, we were a seasonably nomadic Tribe and followed the herds as a source of food in the winter and what food was raised or collected in the other seasons. Weather dictated a lot about who we engaged with, what tools we used, etc. This interconnectivity is what inspired the structuring of the Life Ways exhibit in the Cultural Heritage Center into four distinct seasons. There are large displays of a traditional birch bark canoe on a river in the Great Lakes area, a classically built wigwam (no nails or screws) and paintings of gathering food at different times of the year. Mural settings are inspired by scenery from Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.

After the Trail of Death, and upon arrival in Kansas, our ancestors faced harsh winter weather with no shelter after having been promised homes upon their arrival. There were several deaths that winter due to severe weather — many Potawatomi simply dug a hole in the ground and covered themselves with a blanket. As they became settled, they eventually created shelter for themselves. It would be a fair statement that we have citizens of our Tribe all over the world now — living in all kinds of weather conditions.
I recently had the honor of naming a Seattle-based citizen (a member of the Tescier and Bourbonnais families) who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for about a decade now. Bsedot (She Listens) was the Potawatomi name given to Jenna Barrett on a rainy Saturday morning. Her husband, Iko, was a great support and a lot of help as our “fire keeper” in the moist weather. Migwetch (Thank you) — it was an honor to be part of your Potawatomi journey.

As always, it is my honor to serve as your District 8 legislator,

Dave Carney
Kagasghi (Raven)
Legislator, District 8
520 Lilly Road, Building 1
Olympia, WA 98506

District 9 – Paul Wesselhöft

Headshot of CPN District 9 Legislator Paul Wesselhoft.

Bozho nikan
(Hello friend),

The Greatest Mystery
The greatest mystery is not of life, amazing as it is, or death, as mysterious as it will be, but of existence itself! Ask yourself this question: in the long history of time, some 13.7 billion years, why do I exist and exist now?

You could have existed centuries ago, or you could exist centuries from now, or you could have never existed at all. Your grandparents didn’t have to meet, your parents didn’t have to meet, didn’t have to fall in love, and didn’t have to have the miraculous unification of their sperm and egg. And you could have been the unfortunate product of a miscarriage. But you were born, exist and thrive.

It actually happened. You exist now — this century, this year, this month, this day, this very moment in the long history of time as you read my article. Why do you think that is?

Why do you think you were not born centuries ago? Why do you think you were not planned to exist a century from now? Why were you planned to exist at all? Why? Did the world somehow need you? Could the world have continued along without you? Were you necessary? Why in the world are you here?

Imagine for a moment what your non-existence would be like. Imagine no memory, no thoughts, no feeling, no smelling, no tasting, no hearing, no seeing, no nothing. All there is is blackness, and even blackness does not exist for you. There is nothing!
You didn’t ask to exist, nor did anyone on planet Earth; yet you are here, existing, and existing now. It didn’t have to be this way.

This is your turn at existence — at life — because you were given a turn. Make the most of your turn, your time and your life while you exist now. It will be brief.

(Thank you),

Paul Wesselhöft
Naganit (Leader)
Legislator, District 9

District 11 – Andrew Walters

Headshot of CPN District 11 Legislator Andrew Walters.


“For the want of a nail…” That was the caption on a picture that hung on my dad’s office wall. I remember it as a kid. Dad was the Director of High-Altitude Missile Research for the U.S Army in the later 1960s. It was then that he acquired the picture and, finding it pertinent to his work, hung it above his office door. The picture was simple — a horseshoe nail laying on the dusty ground. After he left the Army, the picture found its way to the house and onto the wall there. A daily lesson for our family.

Dad was born in 1920. He grew up during the Great Depression, a time when no one had much. Jobs were scarce. Many families lost their homes, businesses, savings, investments and futures. Dad survived in that frugal environment. Keeping things that might still have use, spending only out of necessity and squeezing the last bit out of everything in life. The Army gave him a way to escape the oppressive sharecropping poverty of the deep East Texas woods. Back in 1938, when he first entered service, his pay was $18 a month. Having sharpened his shooting skills on opossums, raccoons and squirrels shot out of necessity to feed his mom, dad and brothers, dad managed to obtain an expert qualification with his issued Springfield bolt action rifle. That bumped his pay to $20 a month. Dad went through World War II as a First Sergeant in an Infantry Company. He served 180 days on the front lines and was awarded three Bronze Stars with “V” attachments. He wore his Combat Infantryman’s Badge with dignity and honor throughout his career. After WWII, he came home only to be deployed to Korea, where he was a Junior Warrant Officer in the 57th Field Artillery. It was there in late November, near a place called the Chosin Reservoir, that he was captured by the Chinese. He escaped and eventually came back home, scarred, battered, but not broken. Dad grew his career, his family and future based on those childhood struggles and scars of war. So, the picture was fitting, and the proverb appropriately described his philosophy of life:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
— Anon

In remembering those times, those teachings, that proverb, I often think about how the Tribe operates and the businesses we have. How things have changed. How our Tribe is a lot like my dad’s life. Born in hard times. Going through sorrow, misery and heartbreak. Then coming out battered but not beaten. A better version of ourselves forged with pride and determination in the furnace of adversity. Then I wondered why some would give away or sell all our “nails” for self-profit and personal benefit. Why some who question the Tribe’s efforts to enhance our business ventures, to increase our profits and build new enterprises, would forsake the Tribe and their heritage for 30 pieces of silver?

I have come to know and understand that the monies derived from our business enterprises go to fund programs that assist our members. These “nails,” these enterprises, fund programs like scholarships, burial assistance, down payment assistance and others. These programs necessitate funding of well over $100 million, just to assure there is money when Tribal members request assistance. The Tribe levies no taxes. None of us, as citizens of the Nation, are required to pay taxes to the Tribe. The money that we receive for ARPA, WIC, child development, Title VI elders, housing, workforce development and Indian Health Service is solely from grants and funds provided by the U.S. government. So, growing our Tribal businesses is vitally important. Without it, we’d have no money to give for those life-enhancing programs. Our overall financial situation is secured by having each detail, every dollar, accounted for and used in an appropriate manner. The Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer are businesspeople who appreciate the nuances of Tribal business development and have done a yeoman’s job securing our Tribal success. Their work assures we will never “…want of a nail…” and our Tribe be lost.

In today’s world, Tribal government has moved from poverty and squalor to business development and profits. While traditions MUST be observed, languages taught, skills re-learned, stories told, drumming heard, we cannot turn away from the fact that Tribal business is what keeps the machine running. Tribal enterprises keep our Nation sovereign, gives jobs and gives us a future. Without Tribal business, we would be just another waif of the federal government — a red puppet dancing on the strings of entitlement.

The management team for our Tribe has no equals. Checks and balances are in place to assure continuing prosperity for the Tribe as a whole and to assure that each member will be afforded the rights and privileges of Tribal membership and the benefits of being one of the almost 39,000 members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma. “For the want of a nail…” Ofttimes, the difference between success or failure comes down to something that profound yet simple.

(Thank you),

Andrew Walters
Legislator, District 11