Tribal Chairman – John “Rocky” Barrett

Headshot of CPN Tribal Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett

Bozho nikan
(Hello friend),

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could dramatically harm Native American families across the country.

The case challenges the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act, often known as ICWA. One of the most important parts of the act concerns Native American children who have been removed from their parents’ custody or who are orphaned, among other situations.

The act created a federal law that requires Native American children who need homes to be placed with Native American relatives and families. The act protects tribal sovereignty by federally recognizing a tribe’s ability to care for Native children, not through state courts. As one would expect, tribes prefer a placement with blood relatives and members of a child’s own nation.

Opponents of the act say this is an unfair form of discrimination against non-Native people who may want to adopt a Native child. However, claiming this is a racial issue ignores history and disrespects tribal sovereignty.

When the legislation was enacted in 1978, between one-quarter and one-third of Native American children who were removed from their homes were placed with non-Native families, and many never returned to their tribes. Even under the act, our tribe has seen precious children who represent our future torn away from us. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation lost touch with eight children taken by state court order between 1975 and 1985.

To keep our culture alive, our children should be in homes where they can develop a full connection with their ancestry. It is the only way to ensure our traditions continue.
Tribal sovereignty is not racial. It is legal and political. Tribal governments govern by personal consent. Being a sovereign nation is different from a race. The United States needs to honor the agreements it made with sovereign tribal nations, who are best equipped to determine their own course and care for the welfare of their people. Tribal leaders want to keep children out of state welfare systems and find them homes where their full identity can be celebrated and nurtured.

For decades, the Indian Child Welfare Act has helped prevent the incalculable harm caused by removing children from their tribes and begun to repair the damage caused by discriminatory policies of states and the federal government.

If the act is overturned, Native nations would face genocide by separation. It would be like reviving the boarding school system that devastated so many families and traumatized so many children.

The Supreme Court must not allow this echo of a dark, bloody history of stealing children to continue.

As always, it is an honor to serve as your Tribal Chairman.

(Thank you),

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

Vice-Chairman – Linda Capps

Headshot of CPN Tribal Vice-Chairman Linda Capps.


The Citizen Potawatomi Nation partners with many nonprofit entities in Shawnee, Tecumseh and the surrounding area. We are especially proud of what we do for such a deserving organization as the Salvation Army. Each year, the Salvation Army puts out an impact report. The most current one for October 2021 through September 2022 lists the advisory board, which includes many prominent community members leaders. Our own Richard Driskell with FireLake Discount Foods and Amanda Estala with First National Bank are two of the members. Richard works diligently with the organization to help provide food and other necessities for our neighbors and brings hope to the individuals and families that are served.

The Salvation Army offers transformative programs to improve the lives of those who find themselves in dire need of food and overnight shelter. The organization represents a trusted source of help, hope and compassion to the disadvantaged. For over 121 years, the Salvation Army of Shawnee has carried out its mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

FireLake Foods Director Richard Driskell represents Citizen Potawatomi Nation as he accepts the Salvation Army’s Doing the Most Good Award in November 2019.
FireLake Foods Director Richard Driskell represents Citizen Potawatomi Nation as he accepts the Salvation Army’s Doing the Most Good Award in November 2019.

Captains Patrick and Stacey Connelly operate the organization and proudly maintain a Boys & Girls Club, worship services, family store and online information via Facebook @SalArmyShawnee. The community impact during the last year included 2,796 persons served, 33,861 meals served, 4,929 nights of lodging provided, 1,160 first-time clients and 2,976 volunteer hours donated. They also provided 2,182 toys and gifts, 583 grocery orders and 10,237 items of clothing.

The Salvation Army Christmas Gala event each year provides an opportunity for community individuals and businesses to offer sponsorships for food and other programs. This year’s guest speaker was Sherri Coale, long time girls’ basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma. She is an Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductee, former coach, writer, speaker and a believer in people. An entertaining and popular personality throughout Oklahoma, Sherri talked about her recently released book, Rooted to Rise. She would, indeed, be a hit for any audience, but she particularly fit in to speak at the Salvation Army Gala due to her message about how the intersections of people’s lives make them who they are. The stories in her book are about those whom she has cherished throughout her lifetime.

I am proud of how CPN works with nonprofits throughout Pottawatomie County. In addition, CPN reaches out to each school district in some manner. There are Potawatomi children in each school district in the county; therefore, every school is important to the Tribe. The best example is our vehicle tag operation. Profits from the CPN Tag Agency are sent to schools around the state. Of course, those schools reaping the most dollars are those in Pottawatomie County because that is where most of our Tribal members reside.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you some important things that our Tribe does for the community. There is much more than is listed in my article, so I will cover other organizations that we support in another article. I appreciate having the honor to be your Vice-Chairman for so many years.

(Thank you).

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.
Graphic on a light blue background with holly branches and snow flakes wishing readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Alan Melot's family with love and appreciation.

District 2 – Eva Marie Carney

Headshot of CPN District 2 Legislator Eva Marie Carney.

Bozho nikanek
(Hello friends),

Health insurance coverage

Marketplace Open Enrollment

Are you in need of health insurance coverage, or are you thinking you need to investigate alternatives to your current coverage? Please be aware that the Marketplace Open Enrollment is November 1 to January 15. You may qualify for help paying for a Marketplace health plan or for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). (You can apply and enroll in Medicaid or CHIP at any time of the year.) If you enroll by Dec. 15, 2022, your coverage will start Jan. 1, 2023. To learn more about coverage through the Marketplace, visit or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users can call 1-855-889-4325.

CPN Care

Please also consider enrolling in free-to-you telehealth coverage through CPN Care ( Services include telemedicine, life assistance, discount prescriptions and a medical bill review. To get started, you must activate your benefit by logging into If you have any issues with your CPN Care account, call 888-565-3303 or email (Ally Health is the company that operates this benefit program for CPN.)

Fall Feast celebrated during Veterans Day weekend

The second weekend in November was a busy one. It started with events celebrating Native American veterans and the dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian on Nov. 11. Several of our CPN veterans marched in the beautiful processional, including District 2 resident Kimberly Chatfield Pratt. The National Mall was filled with Indigenous visitors and sage smoke. While in the museum, I was able to view the original 1829 Prairie du Chien Treaty in which the Council of the Three Fires ceded land to the U.S. The next day, about 45 Potawatomi and our families gathered for District 2’s traditional Fall Feast. Migwetch (thank you) to our speakers Sharon Hoogstraten, who presented on the process for producing her gorgeous book, Dancing for Our Tribe (, and Anna Korzeniewski, who wore her beautiful regalia made during her summer in the 2022 Potawatomi Leadership Program and shared about the meaning behind her regalia pieces and overviewed her PLP experience. Migwetch to Bob Richey, who taught how to make a rattle with his usual grace and calm. The Feast concluded with gifts to our wisest, youngest, and farthest-travelled attendees and a group photo. Photo space in this column is limited, so please check out my Facebook page for more Fall Feast photos.

Aurora, our youngest attendee, is awarded a crib blanket.
Aurora, our youngest attendee, is awarded a crib blanket.
Fall Feast 2022 Group Photo
Fall Feast 2022 group photo

Upcoming events

Native Art Market

The always-terrific Native Art Market will take place at the two National Museum of the American Indian sites (Washington, D.C. and New York, N.Y.) on December 3 and 4. Come meet Indigenous artists from the United States, Canada and Central and South America. I plan to attend in Washington, D.C., one of the two days. Please reach out if you plan to go too; I hope we can meet up and maybe grab a coffee together.

Montgomery, Alabama, gathering/memorial tour

District 2 will visit the Museum and Monument at The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, from noon to 3 p.m. (CT). The memorial is informally known as the National Lynching Memorial; it commemorates the Black victims of lynching in the United States and is intended to focus on and acknowledge past racial terrorism and advocate for social justice in America. I’ve scheduled this for the long Presidents Day weekend. We will start with lunch and visiting together at the museum café and then tour the museum and memorial. All facilities are wheelchair accessible. There is no cost to guests for this event! RSVPs required by Feb. 3, 2023.

Please keep in touch

I look forward to hearing from you! Migwetch (thank you) for the honor of representing you. Wishing you warm and comforting winter holidays; see you in 2023!

Bama mine

Eva Marie Carney
Ojindiskwe (Bluebird Woman)
Legislator, District 2
5877 Washington Boulevard
P.O. 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),

At the beginning of November, I was advised by our landlord that they were terminating our month-to-month lease. Our last day in the office will be on November 30. As I write this article, I do not have a new address for mailing. Look for it in my January column.


With leaving an office that we had been in for quite a number of years, it meant looking at items that really weren’t needed any longer. It made me think about some of what I also have in my home. That item is old paint that I have kept for those small blemishes that we get over time on painted surfaces. I had recently disposed of some old cans of paint and looked at the dates on the cans. Some I had were over 10 years old. If you have any old paint for later use, you might check to see when you purchased them. Old, opened paint shelf life on average is five years. If you have any old but unopened paint, it is usually good for up to 10 years. So, you may want to look at what you have on-hand and dispose of that expired paint.

Native American poetry and culture

District 3 Tribal member Elisa Berger sent me this wonderful link to a great collection of Native American poets. Some are widely known while others are voices of a new generation from many of the various Nations in the U.S. I suggest you take a look and enjoy some of these wonderful poems available at


By the time you read this article, the December 7 deadline for signing up for seniors using Medicare will have closed. For those of you who are on Medicare and did sign up, I recently attended a meeting with the firm that I use as an alternate to basic Medicare. The program I use is an advantage plan, and I do pay a monthly premium for that plan. For everyone receiving a Social Security check, the government is deducting over $140 monthly that you are paying for your Medicare benefit. Between January 1 and March 31, you have the option of changing companies if you remain in the same type of plan you have paid for. The firm I use is Care N Care, and they have a basic plan similar to Medicare that you may sign up for, and the government will send them the funds deducted from your Social Security for that coverage. From what the person at the meeting I attended said, their plan may provide better coverage. I am not selling insurance and am simply telling you of another option. Up until this year, Care N Care insurance was only available to three counties in north Texas. They have now expanded to seven or eight more counties, some of which are near Austin, Texas. You may want to give them a call to see if they are able to provide you better coverage that you have now with no added monthly premium. For those of you who turn 65 later in 2023, you may also want to look at this option. Call Care N Care at 817-529-9230.

In closing, let me say have a Jesos ga nigit mine mno weponget, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I thank you for the honor of being your district representative.


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.


Holiday greetings

Peggy and I would like to sincerely wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope that your holiday season is safe and only filled with joy and happiness. I look forward to 2023 with great expectations and enthusiasm as I continue to foster the awareness of the history and presence of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Kansas and my endeavor to connect with and serve CPN members across the state.

Indian Education Formula Grant (Title VI) Program

Are all the enrolled members of your family attending public schools registered with their school under the Title VI program? If not, the parents need to reach out to the appropriate school’s front office to register. All it takes for the student to be eligible is proof of membership with the Tribe, such as an enrollment card. The U.S. Department of Education programs funds the Indian Education Formula Grant (Title VI) program. It supports the efforts of school districts, Indian tribes and organizations, postsecondary institutions, and other groups to meet the unique educational and culturally-related academic needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students. These efforts help these students meet the same challenging state academic standards as all other students. This is also another reason to ensure that all eligible children are enrolled with the Tribe.

If Tribal members who have children in USD 501 (Topeka) have any questions or need assistance, they can contact Yale Taylor, the USD 501 Consulting Teacher for Native American Studies, at 785-295-3116.

Current Historical Sites Renovation Projects

The Nation has received a federal grant to perform much needed work at the Uniontown Cemetery near Willard, Kansas, which is located across the Kansas River from Rossville. The grant will allow us to complete the Ground Penetrating Radar Survey of the site, rebuild the rock wall surrounding the burial site of a Tribal family (circa 1860s), and add signage to the site, which will tell the story of what at happened there in 1849.

Work is currently underway at Abram Burnett’s burial site in southwest Topeka. The project includes installing a new fence surrounding the site, cleaning the monument, removing a couple of trees, adding signage to the site and a general cleanup of the internal area of the site. This is a small project but long overdue.

Upcoming CPN Elders’ Potlucks

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

December 9, variety of soups. RSVP by the 6th.

January 13, meatloaf. 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.

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 5 – Gene Lambert

Headshot of CPN District 5 Legislator Gene Lambert.


Let’s just take a moment for first things first. It is the month of December, and the most important thing to acknowledge is the birth of Jesus Christ.

How we celebrate may vary from home to home but remembering the hardships Joseph and Mary endured giving birth to our baby Jesus would supersede all else.

As we move out of 2022, let’s give thanks for the many gifts and opportunities given to each of us.

I would also like to share moments of a wonderful year in reconnecting with our Tribal members, friends and families after a long absence from the norm:

  1. We had a very successful meeting for Arizona at the Goldfield Ghost Town, and it was only the beginning. Winners were posted in the last article.
  2. We had four naming ceremonies in my backyard for George Valencia’s two daughters, Sophia and Bella from Arizona; Lucas Whitman from Colorado; and Lori Ketterman, new to Arizona from New Mexico. What a grand day it was with their families attending and our awesome Native foods prepared in love by Lori and contributed to by Lucas and George. We had about 20 to 25 in attendance for a spirit-filled day.
  3. Our next stop was Denver, Colorado, and we had another wonderful gathering of Potawatomi for an afternoon learning about our ceremonial customs and why we do them. Our winners of the day were Carolyn Koester, our wisest; Cedric Truth Charlier, age 2, our youngest; and Areta Bloodinghaird and Sylvia L. Weeks, the furthest traveled. Seems we had a tie.
  4. Hopefully you were able to participate in the bow and arrow contest. I do not have a winner given this article is being written before the contest deadline. I will keep you posted as soon as I know.
District 5 Legislator Gene Lambert with youngest in attendance, Cedric Truth Charlier, and mom at a recent gathering.
District 5 Legislator Gene Lambert with youngest in attendance, Cedric Truth Charlier, and mom at a recent gathering
Youngest in attendance and mom, furthest traveled, and wisest in attendance at a recent District 5 meeting.
Youngest in attendance, Cedric Truth Charlier, and mom; furthest traveled Areta Blooodinghaird and Sylvia L. Weeks; and wisest in attendance, Carolyn Koester

Having had the opportunity to reconnect has been wonderful this year, and I am looking forward to more meetings in all of District 5’s states in 2023. This would include Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and parts of Texas. Legislator Bob Whistler carries most of Texas, but we have had a couple of meetings planned together in the past. Perhaps we can do that again in 2023.

Again, I hope this year finalizes itself into a huge win for everyone. It certainly has been a win-win for me.

Take care and love each other as friends and family are truly your greatest asset.

Thank you to all the members that have supported me in the ups and downs throughout the years as you have been my greatest asset.

Merry Christmas. Enjoy your holidays, and let me know if there is anything I can do to assist in that process.

Love you all.
Your legislator,

Eunice Imogene Lambert
Butterfly Woman
Legislator, District 5
270 E Hunt Highway, Ste 229
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143
480-668-0509 office
480-228-6569 cell

District 6 – Rande K. Payne

Headshot of CPN District 6 Legislator Rande Payne.

Bozho jayak
(Hello everyone),

As drought conditions persist here in California, I try not to think about how vulnerable we are to the lack of rain and snow. No matter which side of the climate change argument you’re on, the bottom line is that we’re quickly running out of water. It seems that just like everything else, it has become extremely political. Unfortunately, banning the sale of fossil fueled vehicles by 2035 doesn’t do anything to address today’s water woes. Forecasters are predicting a third consecutive La Niña rain season at least into the first part of next year. Let’s hope and pray it changes and we get lots of rain and snow soon! And let’s hope and pray that last month’s election cycle results in politicians that produce water security solutions for our great state.

On a much brighter note, I want to thank all who attended the District 6 and 7 Fall Heritage Festival. I also want to thank District 7 Representative Mark Johnson for helping make the gathering informative and enjoyable. Mark and I both appreciate the assistance and support from Vice-Chairman Linda Capps and Administrative Assistant Jamie Moucka. They both make our jobs so much easier. And a big shout out to my sisters Sharon and Karen and brother Terry for helping set up and sign everyone in.

It was a delightful day to be outside. After our traditional smudging ceremony and teaching on the four directions and medicines, Tribal member Scarlette Almero gave an informative talk about ways to get involved locally with Native American events. Scarlette also provided information on resources available to all Native Americans. Mark and I appreciate Scarlette taking the time to share with us. We had several Tribal members attend a gathering for the first time. In honor of our ancestors who were on the Potawatomi Trail of Death during October, a brief presentation was given on that period in our history. Tribal members were also encouraged to participate in the 2023 Potawatomi Trail of Death caravan.

We took a break to feast on some delicious homemade tacos provided by Lucy’s Tacos. We had the choice of asada, chicken or pork and all the fixings and choice of salsas. After lunch, Mark provided information about resources available to Tribal members. All were encouraged to take advantage of the telemedicine program, CPN Care ( It is free and anyone living in the Tribal members’ household can use it.

Christine Divine was our wisest member in attendance. Christine turned 90 last month. She is a Toupin family descendant and resides in District 6 in Visalia, California. Debbie Johnson traveled the farthest. Debbie is from Shawnee, Oklahoma, and is a descendant of the Ogee family. Our youngest Tribal member was Barbara Jean Leyva, a Tescier family descendant from Corcoran, California, in District 7.

Furthest travelled at a recent gathering stands wrapped in a Pendleton blanket next to District 6 Legislator Rande Payne and District 7 Legislator Mark Johnson.
Farthest traveled, Debbie Johnson, Ogee family, from Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Youngest in attendance at a recent meeting stands next to District 6 Legislator Rande Payne and District 7 Legislator Mark Johnson.
Youngest Tribal member, Barbara Jean Leyva.

We had a coloring contest for the kids. Harlee Welch from Kerman, California, in District 7 took first place honors. Harlee is a Tescier family descendant.

Then it was time for the hand games. After a few teams were eliminated, it was District 6 vs. District 7 in the final round. Because it was getting late, it was decided to play a sudden death round. Sharon Welch guessed correctly on the first play giving District 7 the win! Congratulations District 7. We’re looking forward to next year, and hopefully District 6 comes out on top next time!

I truly felt like I was with extended family at this year’s event. It seemed like we had just started, and it was already time to go. I guess that’s the joy of being with family.

In closing, I want to wish all a joyous holiday season. I’m looking forward to Christmas and the hope that each new year brings. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Potawatomi Word of the Month: bbon — winter

Words of Wisdom: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city!” — George Burns

Wisdom from the Word: “Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:8

Migwetch, bama pi
(Thank you, until later),

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 October 22, many District 7 members gathered together at the fall Family Heritage Festival that was co-hosted by Rande Payne with District 6 members in Visalia, California. It was great to be in the company of so many great Potawatomi families after the last couple of years. Rande did an outstanding job presenting our heritage and cultural traditions and medicines. After his presentation, I had the opportunity to discuss current topics in Tribal government and the legislature, including topics from benefits to voting. The afternoon was spent playing hand games with the winning team from District 7.

In October, I also had the opportunity to help a Tribal member while learning about Medicare Part D Letters of Creditable Coverage. Our mail order pharmacy meets the requirements of Medicare, and the Tribe will issue you a letter that will satisfy their requirements to avoid any penalties. Additional information is available in this issue of the Hownikan.

As we gather this holiday season, make sure you take the time to share your family history and stories. We owe it to our younger generations to keep the fire of our heritage burning brightly. Also, it is never too early to start planning your trip to the Family Reunion Festival in Shawnee next year; remember that it is always the last full weekend in June.

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 available to you. 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),

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

With so many new members enrolled last year, I find that I am communicating with individuals of all ages that are curious about their Potawatomi past and what it means to be a dual citizen of the United States of America and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. This year, I met some newly enrolled and engaged members at the Portland Fall Feast in October and the Olympia cookout event in May. The journey to discover what it means to be Potawatomi is unique to each one of us. Many people start with tracing their family tree, while others take a deep dive into culture and language.

The Nation has made substantial investments of time and treasure into providing tools for members to get their own answers. A trip to the Cultural Heritage Center can be amazing and informative, and for those who can’t travel to Oklahoma, I’d suggest spending some time at where there is a virtual tour available. Other assets found on this site are family allotment records, family manuscripts and a link to Ancestors.

To explain this, I defer to the site itself: “Ancestors is a digital research program focused on the family history of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. It provides members the opportunity to engage in genealogical research, build family trees and connect with Potawatomi relatives from around the globe. Members can also communicate directly with Cultural Heritage Center staff to assist with family research and/or donate to the family history collection.” For those interested in genealogy, it’s going to be a developing font of information.

Through both and, there are links to our Potawatomi (Bodéwadmi) language. With the leadership of Justin Neely, our Language Director, and his staff, there is a robust effort underway to assist those interested in learning the language accomplish their goals through online and in-person classes. There are other assets here such as an online dictionary and some animated cultural teachings.

As the coronavirus crisis is waning, we can once again experience gatherings with our Citizen Potawatomi family. Please consider attending the 2023 Family Reunion Festival.
The honored families this upcoming year will be Johnson, Laframboise, LaReau, LeClaire, Melott, Rhodd, Tescier, Weld and Young.

What does it mean to be an honored family? Like so many things, it’s what you make of it. It often helps if there is an enthusiastic matriarch or patriarch who does some organizing, planning or maybe even family T-shirt design. The purpose is to celebrate five to 10 of our original founding families on a rotating basis. Each of these families has a banner hung in the roundhouse to designate a special meeting area. Interviews with multiple generations of family members are recorded for posterity by the staff of the Cultural Heritage Center, and special recognition of these families happens when members move into the powwow dance arena.

Whatever your faith tradition, I wish you a very fine holiday and as always, it is my honor to serve as your legislator.

(Thank you),

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),

Aborted creativity

Michelangelo created a sculpture called the Florentine Pietà or The Deposition.
The Italian High Renaissance artist worked on this piece for eight years and in 1555 at age 80, he found himself displeased with a vein in the marble. In frustration, he attacked the work, broke off its limbs and virtually destroyed it. Fortunately, for us, his assistant rescued it and partially restored it, but Michelangelo never touched it again.
Likewise, Mark Twain in the late 18th century wrote several stories and novels that he gave up on because of lost creativity, including one with 400 words. The great writer realized that the novel was not up to his creative standard. He “put the whole thing in the fire.”

These historical events cause me to have contradictory emotions: courage and disappointment. Courage that it takes such to realize that your artwork is less than your standard, and you destroy it, and disappointment in that these great artists deprived us of their creations.

As a writer, I have written poems, plays, essays and fiction where I stalled somewhere in the middle and gave up — but for a time. I refused to delete or destroy them. It seemed to me that my writings were interrupted in their creative process. But to destroy them would be like an abortion — killing the seed of a creative work of tomorrow. Of course, I would never compare my minute creativity with that of these two great masters. Perhaps they knew precisely what was best for them and us.

A beautifully framed print of Michelangelo’s Florentine Pietà hangs on my wall. Even in its distorted state, I often admire it and wonder what it would be like with the master’s last touch.

Also, I wish I had those lost 400 words of Mark Twain. Better yet, I wish he had laid down his pen to take it up again when creativity may have enlightened his soul.

(Thank you),

Paul Wesselhöft
Naganit (Leader)
Legislator, District 9

District 10 – David Barrett

Headshot of CPN District 10 Legislator David Barrett.


Here we are at the closing of another year, and I will use the term “changing times” before we make any resolutions for the New Year. When I was growing up, there seemed to be certain things or core values that you took for granted. Let’s look at several things that you used to be able to depend on most of the time when I was in the workforce. If you did a good job at work, your company would back you up on protecting you. Most people would stay for a long time and even retire from that company. Nowadays, do we have that stability, dependability and predictability about our workplace? Don’t we owe our employer a good day’s work for what we agreed to work for? I have been told that some in the workplace seem to think that if they don’t feel like doing different things, they don’t have to. “Quiet quitting” is the latest workplace buzzword. Although it sounds like it refers to someone resigning from their position, it describes a rebellion against the hustle culture of going above and beyond what a job requires.

The coronavirus pandemic not only disrupted everyone’s lives with restrictions and a lockdown on public gatherings, but it also made some people rethink their career choices. Not only are people resigning from positions, but they also want to limit their workloads. Enter quiet quitting — the new way of doing a job’s bare minimum.

But what about other things that are changing our lifestyles today? Fentanyl death in our younger population, the suicide rate of our veterans and crime in our country.

Does each of us have involvement in our schools, in our local and national policies, and our communities?

We all make choices daily. Those choices that you make now and later will stay with you forever, and you will more than likely be held accountable for them sooner or later. We all should have accountability for our actions, and there should be repercussions for the injustice to others. Does it seem like we are heading in that direction, or have we gotten off-road?

When is it not the polite or correct way (out of respect) to not be able to listen to another’s opinions, feelings or ideas on certain issues? We can’t sit back nowadays and think things just will turn out okay. We still need God’s guidance, and we all need to research our daily matters to educate and know where we will stand on certain issues. Don’t trust the media, but absolutely verify what they are saying, especially who’s saying it and what they will gain by saying it.

With inflation and our economy, CPN will continue to try to still be consistent in our programs. To give our members a good as possible, stable environment, to be able to depend on our health care and all of the other benefits.

On Veterans Day, I attended the National Native American Veterans Memorial dedication in Washington, D.C., and the District 2 fall feast in Arlington, Virginia.

Looking forward to running again next year, and it goes without saying that it is both a pleasure and an honor to serve you and our great Nation.

Merry Christmas, and have a happy and healthy New Year.

(Thank you),

David Barrett
Mnedobe (Sits with Spirit)
Legislator, District 10
1601 S. Gordon Cooper Dr.
Shawnee, OK 74801

District 11 – Andrew Walters

Headshot of CPN District 11 Legislator Andrew Walters.


Personal responsibility. There’s a phrase you don’t hear much anymore. Used to mean that you are responsible for your actions and how your actions affect others. Now it’s a clause in an insurance policy. Have you ever wondered what the country would be like if we didn’t have car insurance? OMG… That would mean people would be responsible for their driving discourtesies and violations. Having a wreck could wreck your life. You’d have to be more careful, more responsible, more aware that there are actually other people around you. But instead, we pay some company to pay for our mistakes and irresponsibility, just in case things catch up to us while we go our own way.

You see, there are other facets in life where the same is true. Health insurance for example. We can eat, smoke, do whatever we want because we don’t for the most part have to be cognizant of our health. When something really bad happens, don’t worry, the insurance will pay for it.

This even extends into our everyday conduct. At one time, morals, pride, work ethic and family were guiding factors in our lives. Those things taught us and reminded us of personal responsibility. But with the breakdown of morals in today’s world — the destruction of family, the confusion born by an absence of religious beliefs or any belief for that matter, and the push toward an overinflated, amour-propre personal identity — they matter little. The “woke” attitudes of today go toward confusing relationships and obfuscating identities. Instead of making us individuals, the “wokeness” just makes us a part of the herd. You know… everybody’s special… just like everybody else. My mother used to tell me that the only thing you truly own is your name. And that your name is what makes you special, makes you who you are and, most importantly, makes others know of you and your family.

That’s where the Tribe comes in. You see, our Tribe has customs and beliefs that are ancient. And those customs and beliefs, like an anchor in a troubled sea, hold us fast. They let us know where we are in life, in the world. They make us feel like individuals, yet parts of a greater whole. Practicing our beliefs, learning our past, using our words, participating in our Tribe connects us to our past and holds us firmly in place during this tempest we call “life.”

I can trace my family lines through history, from Francis and Catish Bourbonnais through the Coders, and Dikes, and Peddicords, the Frys, the Churchills, Cuyons, Byllesbys and Langenkamps. The Jenks, Posts, and Buckmasters, the McClungs, Stephens, Stringers and others. Along with all the history, hardships, friendships, travels, intrigue and romance. Our history, the Tribe’s history, is glorious, beautiful and humbling. We are all inter-related through the journeys of our ancestors. We are all part of each other. Living pieces of the whole.

But all of this comes with a responsibility. That’s how this article started. Our personal responsibility to each other is to participate, to learn, to search and be a part of this group called the Citizen Potawatomi. As I’ve said before, being a Potawatomi is an honor, passed to us through generations of hardships. But it is also a responsibility to be handed down to future generations when the “we” of today will become part of “our” story for the Tribe of tomorrow.

We are all family. And in that spirit, may Cora and I wish our Potawatomi family Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. We love y’all.

(Thank you),

Andrew Walters
Legislator, District 11