The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Department of Education is accepting applications for the second session of Mdamen, the Tribe’s new leadership program that helps participants establish and maintain a strong connection to their Potawatomi heritage. The application period opened on October 1 and closes November 15.
Mdamen comes from the Bodéwadmimwen (Potawatomi language) word for corn and translates as “that miraculous seed.” Education Department Internship and Project Coordinator Kym Coe said their goal focuses on planting seeds of knowledge among Potawatomi people that will grow over time.
The seven-week virtual program was created to connect Tribal members across the country, Coe said. She will oversee the Mdamen program this year.
Once a week, participants will join a Zoom meeting to learn about government, culture and the economic development of the Tribe. Each session will touch on a different theme, from social services to economic development to culture and heritage. The program also includes smaller talking circles and breakout sessions with other CPN members. Mdamen concludes with a reflection session over what each participant learned.
Coe said Mdamen will follow a similar format to the inaugural 2022 program, with some of the same facilitators. Participants must commit to attending each virtual session and preparing a final reflection presentation. Program alumni will attend some sessions, offering their experiences to guide the new class.
“It was just really neat to see that CPN members all across the United States wanted to learn about what happens here at CPN headquarters,” Coe said.
Mdamen is modeled after the successful Potawatomi Leadership Program that is geared toward college-age Tribal members who are exploring their heritage. Tribal members asked if a similar program could be created for them after seeing the PLP’s success, and Mdamen was launched in the fall of 2021. The virtual format allows those who want to learn more about their Potawatomi roots to participate, even if they are unable to travel to CPN headquarters near Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Coe said Mdamen is a valuable opportunity to learn about different Tribal entities, from government operations to health care and enterprises like the FireLake Entertainment Center and FireLake Discount Foods. As a CPN employee, Coe said she learned a lot from the Mdamen talking circles about services that impact her community.
Coe encourages Tribal members to apply because the program offers many lasting perks. It can spark an ongoing journey of learning more about Potawatomi heritage and create a network of support.
“If you’re kind of riding the fence and you’re just not even sure what your Tribe can do for you, come see all the different things that are growing and the different opportunities that you could possibly be a part of, even across the United States,” Coe said.
She hopes anyone thinking about applying considers the long-term benefits after completing the seven-week course. Coe said one past participant learned about the wide variety of Tribal services available and found a supportive group of people who enjoy socializing in a virtual format.
“(The first class) created an alumni team,” Coe said. “They have a Facebook group, and they all visit every week and check in with each other. So, it’s become a huge network as well. We plan on creating a Zoom for them to meet once a month to help this new group and share their experience as they join.”
Mdamen is limited to 20 participants, open to Tribal members 18 and up. The deadline to apply is Nov. 15, 2022. Applications are reviewed by an independent committee. The sessions begin on Jan. 12, 2023, and continue each Thursday from 6-8:30 p.m. CST. The final session is Feb. 23, 2023.