Tribal Chairman – John “Rocky” Barrett

Headshot of CPN Tribal Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett

Bozho nikan
(Hello friend),

With new offices being built for several different clinics and more changes coming in the next few years, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services continues to improve and maintain its status as a well-respected health care system in the greater Oklahoma City metro. In 2021, CPNHS saw patients more than 34,500 times and filled over 280,000 prescriptions.

One of the main ways we maintain patient trust is through our quality of providers, and throughout the last decade, we have attracted some high-caliber doctors and physicians assistants that put their patients first.

We have also had some leadership changes at CPNHS within the last year. Now, two Citizen Potawatomi women are at the helm. February 3 is National Women Physicians Day, and the two family providers who lead CPNHS deserve recognition for their hard work and ability to run a complex and comprehensive health care system.

Dr. Kassi Sexton is a family practitioner and became the CPNHS Chief Medical Officer last fall after serving as public health coordinator and medical professional director. She continues to see patients and enjoys face-to-face time with tribal members. She began working for the Tribe in August 2016, and during her time here, Dr. Sexton has helped lead the health care team through a wide variety of challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

She holds her doctorate from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and her master’s in public health from the University of Oklahoma. She is a descendant of the Vieux family and former recipient of the CPN Department of Education scholarship. In 2020, she was named one of Oklahoma Magazine’s 40 Under 40 award recipients for her success in the medical field at a young age.

Dr. Megan Wilson started with CPNHS as a family medicine provider in August 2017 and became CPN’s medical director last fall. Like Dr. Sexton, she continues to see patients while completing her additional responsibilities to keep the staff and facilities running well. Dr. Wilson was instrumental in CPNHS’s ability to offer telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Wilson knows the community well as she grew up in Choctaw, Oklahoma, near Tribal headquarters and comes from a family with a medical background. She attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma and came to work for CPNHS to serve her hometown and the Tribe after completing her residency at the University of Knoxville in Tennessee.

These two Tribal members help Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services carry out its mission of providing high quality, evidence-based and culturally suitable medical care to our Tribal population and those of other Indigenous communities around us. Expanding health services continues to be a goal for the Nation, and under their leadership, we will work toward further improvement.

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.


One of the benefits of working with a tribe is the abundance of government information that crosses your desk daily. It may include important rulings and policy, even from the Executive Office of the President. This information can be accessed on the internet, but notices help. I recently received one regarding the coronavirus pandemic:
Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 382 — a bill to terminate the public health emergency declared with respect to COVID-19 (Rep. Guthrie R-KY, and 19 cosponsors), and H.J.Res. 7 — a joint resolution relating to a national emergency declared by the President on March 13, 2020 (Rep. Gosar, R-AZ, and 51 cosponsors).

I would not have known about this statement had it not been brought to my attention; however, I now realize reference to the content has been publicized for weeks.

The COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency (PHE) were declared by the Trump administration in 2020. They are set to expire on March 1 and April 11, 2023, respectively. At present, the Biden administration plans to extend the emergency declarations to May 11 and end both on that date. This action would coincide with the administration’s previous commitments to give at least a 60-day notice prior to termination of the PHE.

Ending the emergency declarations on March 1 and April 11 might create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system. During the PHE, the Medicaid program has operated under special rules to provide extra funding to states to ensure that tens of millions of vulnerable Americans kept their Medicaid coverage during a global pandemic. In December, Congress enacted an orderly wind-down of these rules to ensure that patients did not unpredictably lose access to care and that state budgets don’t face a radical cliff. The extra time to May 11 could ensure the wind-down. Disruption in services is the first concern of the original termination of the PHE.

The second concern of the public health emergency ending is the termination of the Title 42 policy affecting immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Presently, Title 42 remains in place because of orders issued by the U.S. Supreme Court and a district court in Louisiana. Title 42 is often misunderstood and confusing to the American people. The program allows the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prohibit the entry of persons who potentially pose a health risk by being subject to previously-announced travel restrictions or by unlawfully entering the country to bypass health-screening measures. Its use was implemented under the Trump administration and has continued under the Biden administration to prohibit asylum seekers from lawfully petitioning for protection in the United States.

By the time you read this article, hopefully, there will be policies in place to address the wind-down of Title 42. There are studies that show heavy immigration into the United States has substantial negative wage effects for Native American workers, but other studies show that it has a very small effect on the average wages of Native workers. I appreciate the fact that organizations or individuals conducting the studies are considering the livelihood of Indigenous peoples in their analyses.

The coming changes are interesting to me and important to the American people.
As always, I cherish serving as your Vice-Chairman.

(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.

Bozho shishibéni
(Hello Citizen Potawatomi),

It has been a bit since I have written here in the Hownikan. The truth is, I have had little to say. I’m learning to speak less and listen more, and I’ve been spending time listening a lot recently.

Tragedy befell my family late last fall. My nephew, CPN member Dylan Cole, was
killed in a motorcycle accident. Dylan is my sister Cheryl’s son and has always been dear to me. He was 19 years old and had just married his best friend and sweetheart, Izzy, four weeks before his accident. Dylan was a peacemaker and was quickly becoming a man of integrity and purpose. Dylan was a hard worker and a good friend who was thoughtful and caring. He had a soft demeanor and was one of the most pleasant people I have ever met. Dylan was easy to be with, a quality in short supply in this world. My heart has been with Cheryl and Izzy and their families as they grieve this significant loss. Please keep them in your prayers as they find themselves having to adjust to life without him here.

Grief in these situations can be incredibly complex. We are often left with many questions, deep looks into our systems of belief and profound sorrow. My personal belief system views death as an entrance to our next life in which we shed mortality and receive the rewards of our life works and decisions — for better or for worse. I believe Dylan joined our family in Heaven when he walked on from this life. This belief mitigates my feeling of loss, but I am a degree or two away from being as close to him as others were. While I will miss him, this simply does not compare to the grief I know his family feels. This is often the case: grief increases in complexity and strength when it is less expected and closer to us. Grief typically comes in waves with unpredictable triggers and timing. If we can ride those waves like a surfer might, they become slightly more manageable; in this way, we can maintain perspective and do what is important to us rather than being drowned and debilitated. Another critical component is to remain connected to those around you and lean into community as much as possible. The weight of grief is easier to bear if we can bear it together. Grief is difficult, but we are not without the wisdom to navigate it in a way that allows us to act on our values and honor the ones who have walked on.

I’ve decided to forego a spring meeting to put my full support behind the Trail of Death Caravan this summer. The Trail of Death Caravan will follow the path our ancestors took when they were forcibly removed from our homelands. Many District 1 citizens have been working hard on this event for over a year! I will share information on how you can join us and participate, and I think you will be delighted with the way the caravan will offer different times and places to engage with each other and our history.

I’ve heard from some of you via email and Facebook as well as texts and phone calls, and it’s been a pleasure to visit with each of you. Please reach out to me if you think I can help in any way or if you just want to chat!

I hope this year finds each of you growing and with mno bmadzewen, good health and life.

See you soon,

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),

Winter Stories

It’s our tradition to tell stories in the winter. Stories featuring Nanabozho and Wiske should be told only in the winter when the earth and spirits are asleep. The PDF of the collection of winter stories I compiled in 2015 is available at

In 2021, Legislator Dave Carney and I co-hosted a meeting at which Justin Neely, CPN’s Language Director, entertained us with other great stories. The meeting recording is posted to YouTube – Justin can be heard starting at 22:05. Find it at

And I just came upon this charming traditional story, accompanied by James Faubert’s illustration included here. Please enjoy and share with your families during winter times.

Turtle gets a Shell: An Anishinaabe Legend

It was one of those days when Nanaboozhoo was in a strange mood. He had just awakened from a deep sleep that was disturbed by the noisy quarreling and scolding of the blue jays. He was a bit cranky; his sleep was disturbed and besides that, he was hungry. His first thought was to go down to the village and find something to eat.

Entering the village, he came across some men cooking fish. They had their camp located close to the water and Nanaboozhoo spied many fish cooking over a fire.

Now, being very hungry, he asked for something to eat. The men were happy to give him some but cautioned him that it was hot. Not heeding their warning, he quickly grabbed the fish and burned his hand. He ran to the lake to cool it off in the water. Still unsteady from his deep sleep, he tripped on a stone and fell on Mishekae (turtle) who was sunning on the beach.

At that time, Mishekae was not as we know her today. She had no shell and was comprised of soft skin and bone.

Turtle complained loudly to Nanaboozhoo to watch where he was going.

Colorful painting of two red-shelled turtles on rocks in swirling blue waters. A pink horizon and reeds are behind them.
Painting by James Faubert

Now, Nanaboozhoo felt ashamed of his clumsiness and apologized to Mishekae. He wondered, “What can I do to make it up to her?” He wanted to do something to help his friend. “I’ll have to sit and think it over,” he thought as he followed the path back to his wigwam.

Sometime later, he returned to the beach and called for Mishekae. Turtle poked her head through the soft beach mud. Nanaboozhoo picked up two large shells from the shore and placed one on top of the other. He scooped up Mishekae and put her right in the middle, between the shells.

Nanaboozhoo took a deep breath and began. “You will never be injured like that again,” he said slowly. “Whenever danger threatens,” he continued, “you can pull your legs and head into the shell for protection.”

Nanaboozhoo sat beside his friend on the beach and told Mishekae his thoughts. “The shell itself is round like Mother Earth. It was a round hump which resembled her hills and mountains. It is divided into segments, like martyrizes that are a part of her, each different and yet connected by her.”

Mishekae seemed very pleased and listened intently. “You have four legs, each representing the points of direction North, South, East and West,” he said. “When the legs are all drawn in, all directions are lost.”

“Your tail will show the many lands where the Anishnabek have been, and your head will point in the direction to follow. You will have advantages over the Anishnabek,” he went on. “You will be able to live in the water as well as on land, and you will be in your own house at all times.”

Mishekae approved of her new self and thanked Nanaboozhoo for his wisdom. Moving now in a thick shell, she pushed herself along the shore and disappeared into the water.

So, ever since that accident long ago, Turtle has been special to the Anishnabek.

To this day, she continues to grace Mother Earth, still proudly wearing those two shells.

February 11 meeting in Montgomery, Alabama

I am looking forward to seeing folks on February 11, starting at noon Central Time, followed by a tour of the Museum and Monument at The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama. All details for the meet-up are in the printed invitation. Please know that you don’t need to receive a postcard to attend — just email or call me to let me know you will be attending.

Pink and green postcard inviting Tribal members to a District 2 meeting on February 11, 2023, at the Lecacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

Migwetch (thank you) for the honor of representing you.

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 nikan
(Hello friend),

Well, after the horrible Christmas week weather and related flight cancellations, I pray that this month as well as the rest of the winter months treat all areas in the country with some better weather.

Southwest flight cancellations

Just about 42 years ago, the airlines were deregulated, which brought us flights to many more destinations by a variety of carriers. It has resulted in cheaper fares but also created some headaches that we just went through. Most of the airlines throughout the last 42 years found that they needed to adjust their operating system to quickly react to major cancellations of flights due to weather conditions. From what I have seen on the news, it appears that Southwest didn’t modify their program enough to make the necessary adjustments to get the aircraft and crews realigned. I worked in this industry for over 40 years and understand that the pairings of crews and aircraft is very complicated. Hopefully, Southwest will modify their weather cancellation recovery program for the future. In the meantime, if your travel involved any of their cancellations, they are offering refunds for airfare and other expenses depending upon your situation. You may call 1-800-435-9792 or go online to to request a refund.


On Feb. 11, 2023, at 11 a.m., the Cherokee Community of North Texas will hold a chili cook off at the Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas in Dallas, which I plan to attend. Please call 214-563-6921 if you would like to attend. They are looking for new members and an opportunity to learn a little about them.


Just a quick note. In my home and auto, I have the usual smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. I will be replacing all the smoke detectors because of their age. Most of us think about changing the batteries, but they have only a good lifetime of about 10 years. Fire extinguishers also need to have their pressure checked about every 10 years. So, I am suggesting that you look into these two areas and take any action that appears appropriate.

Election code

On Dec. 14, 2022, a special legislative meeting was held to review and make changes to our election code. Some of the new major changes are:

  • You must be an enrolled member of our Nation to contribute to anyone’s campaign to be an elected representative of our Tribe.
  • Campaign contributions must be made by a natural person. No corporation, partnership, legal entity or organization may make any campaign contribution.
  • No person may contribute more than $5,000 in campaign contributions to any one candidate.
  • The candidate must file a report on each and all campaign contributions that includes the contributor’s full name, mailing address, phone number and email address.
  • No anonymous campaign contributions are permitted.

I haven’t included every change due to the space limitation of this month’s article, but they can be found online at I suggest that if you wish to contribute to a candidate, you contact them to ensure that no part of the code is being violated. Candidates will refund ineligible contributions. If they knowingly accept any illegal contribution and use it for their election, they are subject to being disqualified from being elected and moreover are now ineligible for candidacy for any Tribal office in the future.

I hope the foregoing is helpful. I thank you and am proud of you allowing me to be your elected representative in District 3.


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.


Preparing for the 2023 Potawatomi Trail of Death caravan arrival in Kansas

Even thorough the caravan will not take place until late September, the planning and preparation for it have been underway for several months. I was asked to coordinate and plan the arrival of the caravan at its first stop in Kansas, which is at a trail marker in Heritage Park in Johnson County. I had previously been contacted by Susan Mong, the Superintendent of Culture for Johnson County, who is interested in creating a permanent art exhibit at the trail marker that commemorates the caravan passing through Johnson County. As we discussed her idea further, it seemed like Susan and I shared the same idea about making a routine stop at the marker into a memorable event. She offered the idea of offering breakfast to the caravan participants and a welcome by local officials and dignitaries. She would then like to have time to visit with Tribal members about their thoughts and ideas for the art exhibit. All CPN members are invited to attend this event, which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at 9 a.m.

For those who may be interested, the caravan will depart Heritage Park at approximately 10:30 a.m. and continue onto its final stop at the site of the Sugar Creek Mission south of Osawatomie, where a mass will be held at 2:30 p.m. I will announce updates in my future articles.

Progress on the Burnett Burial site:

The removal of the old chain link fencing and two trees, which encroached on the site, have been completed. I have just been mainly an observer of the progress. The work has been performed by my cousin, Joe Wulfkhule, and his grandson, Anthony. But I will take credit for one major accomplishment. After working with Joe in an unsuccessful attempt to remove the eight metal fence posts, we realized that we needed a skid loader to do the job. As I left the site, I passed a home that is on one of the routes into the site, and I thought I would stop and let the owner know what we were doing and that we would be using this route into the site. As it turned out, the owner was a very nice lady who said that was not a problem and was glad someone was finally cleaning up the site. I mentioned that the next thing we needed was a skid loader to remove the fence posts. She said her grandson had a skid loader. She took my card and later called me with his contact information. A week later, Joe and I met with her grandson and watched as he pulled up the eight poles in less than an hour. Next is the installation of the wrought iron fence, cleaning the monument and landscaping the site.

Photo of a monument at the Burnett Burial site.
Repairs are underway at the Burnett Burial site.

Upcoming CPN Elders’ Potlucks

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

February 10 — Chicken pot pie. RSVP by Feb. 7.
March 10 — Corned Beef and Cabbage. RSVP by March 7.

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.

Blessing Ceremony at Mt. Mitchell

A few weeks ago, I was asked to conduct a blessing ceremony of the prairie land that had been recently acquired by a group called the Prairie Scouts and added to the Mount Mitchell Heritage Park. The Park is located across the Kansas River, south of Wamego a few miles. Mount Mitchell means many things to many people. For American Indians, an ancient burial site is on top of the mound. For the Mitchell family, it is a place to honor an abolitionist grandfather and the Connecticut-Kansas Colony who helped make Kansas a state free from slavery. The area contains ruts and swales from an old trail that was used by the westernmost route of the Underground Railroad from 1857 to 1861. John Fremont surveyed the area for routes that would become the first national road to California and Oregon. I was fully prepared to perform the smudging or blessing of the land with the smoke from the four gifts from the Creator burning in an abalone shell, but just before I lit the fire, I realized I was going to be standing in knee-deep prairie grass with 30 mph winds. Not a good idea. I ended up tossing the ingredients into the wind in the four directions. Those in attendance seemed pleased with this alternative. The following photo was posted on Facebook.

Black and white photo of Citizen Potawatomi Nation District 4 Legislator Jon Boursaw holding a fan during a blessing ceremony at Mount Mitchell. Prairie land and Mount Mitchell are visible in the background.
District 4 Legislator Jon Boursaw conducts a blessing ceremony at Mt. Mitchell.

(Thank you),

Jon Boursaw,
Wetase Mkoh (Brave Bear)
Representative, District 4
007 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.


We made it through the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with a few scars, but we made it. Hopefully you were able to enjoy friends and families without drama and remember what these holidays are all about.

Too often we get so caught up in the ceremonies, we lose track of why we go through the process.

Those who are special in our lives create irreplaceable memories and moments. February is the month of love, and that’s why we do it.

When we talk about love or say, “I love you,” it creates a warmness, unlike any other word. What does it mean?

Valentine’s Day was established to have us stop and think… What if these people, situations or things were not in our lives? Would it be as full? Would you feel as complete without them?

There are so many kinds of love. It is defined in the dictionary as 1) an intense feeling of deep affection, 2) a great interest and pleasure in something and 3) to like or enjoy something like dancing or football.

We can talk about love in a relationship or as separated and identified in Webster as EROS, erotic, passionate love; PHILIA, love of friends and equals; STORGE, love of parents for children or vice versa; and AGAPE, love of mankind.

We will all experience different kinds of love throughout our lives. It is the one thing that can inspire or regenerate with the sound of a single word.

February was acknowledged to bring your attention to the people and things in your life that make it worth living.

How can you verbalize something so powerful that is known only from a feeling? You can’t truly see it. You certainly can’t touch it. Yet, you know when the feeling is there.

Sometimes it is in a hot cup of coffee in the morning. It is in a hug or the smallest of gestures as a pat. Yet, you are aware when that warm feeling of acceptance and adoration exists.

I have heard it said that the most important things in life you cannot see or touch. I believe that to be true.

The love of your Creator is the greatest of all love. It is unconditional love.

I used to tell my children, “You cannot do anything to make me not love you.” You can anger me. You can temporally put me at a distance. You can walk away. You will never lose my love. It will always be there.

The Creator loves us in the same way.

If in this moment you feel that his love has gone away, it never has and never will. You moved away from love.

I look around at all the beauty and “love” this earth has provided humans. The animal kingdom is reflected every day on social media as well as the love we have for our extended families. You can love your favorite meal or attire.

I will share a line I heard in the movie Country Strong. A mature woman was giving life advice to a very young woman by saying, “Don’t be afraid to fall in love. It’s the only thing that matters in life. Fall in love with as many things as possible.”

In the meantime, I love my people. Stay safe and love all that you do!

Take care of each other, and stay in touch.

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 8 – Dave Carney

Headshot of CPN District 8 Legislator Dave Carney.

Bohzo nikan
(Hello friend),

I hope this edition of the Hownikan finds all in District 8 healthy and doing well.

I am writing this month’s column on January 1 (New Year’s Day). I always enjoy the energy of the new year and watching people fall into the camp of “resolution makers” and those that embrace the status quo. Those of us that have been around more than a few decades (also known as Elders) know to go lightly on making grandiose plans for drastic lifestyle changes like extreme weight loss or massive body building gains. Sweeping behavior modifications are unlikely as well.

Additionally, making a huge improvement on the health of others is unlikely also. In my work life, I tried two attempts at this:

  • One year, I offered my workers $150 incentive to stop smoking for New Year’s. I actually had people start smoking so they could stop smoking and get the $150! That was in the ‘90s, and $150 was a lot more money back then.
  • Ten years later, I still hadn’t learned my lesson. On January 2, I stocked the office lunchroom with fresh fruit and muffins. The muffins disappeared in a few hours. The fruit rotted and was thrown out in a week or so. I guess you could say these employees might be part of the status quo camp when it comes to New Year’s.

As it pertains to my role of legislator, the last quarter of 2022 was full of planning for the Fall Feast, responding to requests from District 8 members for information or help with existing programs, and legislative discussions/meetings. Of the legislative actions needing to take place, one of the most significant was working with my fellow legislators and our Tribal attorneys on an ordinance to amend the election code — primarily around campaign finance.

The highlights of the changes are that only a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation may make a campaign contribution; contributions cannot be made by a corporation. Campaign contributions are capped at $5,000 per contributor — this includes the candidate themselves. Records of all contributions must be kept and reported to the Nation’s election committee at prescribed intervals.

The idea behind this reform is to preclude corporations from influencing our elections and/or having wealthy candidates attempt to “buy” an elected position or to decide an election question.

I am looking forward to seeing Potawatomi family in Oklahoma and at District meetings in 2023.

It is my honor to serve as your 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 Power of the written Word

It’s unfortunate that early Native Americans, except the Mayan, did not convert their eloquent spoken languages into written languages. Had this occurred, we would have ancient Indian history, culture and customs, written and interpreted by primary sources — Native Americans. Instead we rely, for the most part, on white Western European “historians” to record North American Indian history. We know that he or she who records history shapes history.

Sequoyah invented the first Native American written language beginning in 1809. Adults and children were taught this new written language. The Cherokees took their written language to Oklahoma Territory, and there they used their written words in official documents and eventually in a published newspaper called The Cherokee Phoenix.

The power of the written word can be immortalized, especially when words are published and preserved in books and shelved in libraries. After the passage of several thousand years, we still read the words of Enheduanna and Moses.

Even if your fingers are not as important and potent as the masters, when you put graphite or ink to paper, capture words electronically, or type and print them out, your very thoughts can and should endure in perpetuity.

Perhaps that’s why we write. We are creators in the image of our Creator. We are scribes. We are authors. We are written recorders of ideas, of reality and fiction, of prose and poetry, of dreams and visions. Therefore, when we write we ought to revise and refine every word, sentence and paragraph. As we leave our words behind, they are our mark in time.

(Thank you),

Paul Wesselhöft
Naganit (Leader)
Legislator, District 9

District 10 – David Barrett

Headshot of CPN District 10 Legislator David Barrett.


Finally, we got through with 2022. It had been a trying year to say the least. My wife and I started a remodeling project in March and finalized it in December. I didn’t have to do all the work, but somehow, I got too involved with the process. Things got more complicated as time progressed — if you have ever removed popcorn texture or wallpaper, then you know what I am talking about.

Our veteran group had their Christmas dinner on Dec. 6, 2022. We really had a good turnout of around 55 guests. Vice-Chairman Capps dropped in and spread some Christmas cheer by passing out some gift cards that were appreciated right before Christmas.

As has been the tradition of over eight years, we had the De’Wegen Kwek (Ladies Drummers) to sing and drum a couple of songs for our guests.

Photo of eight women with hand drums and wearing ribbon skirts in red and green hues at the CPN Veterans Organization Christmas Party 2022.
The De’Wegen Kwek (Ladies Drummers) perform at the CPN Veterans Organization Christmas Party in December 2022.

My concern for starting a new year is about how we are addressing our “mistakes.” What are we doing to correct the border, fentanyl and crime? Where is the accountability, and who is going to take responsibility? In researching, I found some interesting facts from Austrian entrepreneur Octavian Pilati ( abouthow to learn from your mistakes posted on Jan. 16, 2022.

One thing he talked about is the “fight flight freeze” response. It is one of humanity’s oldest neurological processes — something we have in common with any other species on the planet. In stressful situations, if seen as a threat, the FFF response kicks in. Therefore, it can stand in the way of learning from mistakes and might even be the culprit of reinforcing false behavior. Time needs to pass for the FFF response to disperse and for us to think about what happened. Moreover, if we do not take the time to pause and analyze a past mistake once we have calmed down, we might end up reinforcing the faulty behavior and then repeat it, making it worse.

Denial is a defense mechanism, which is supposed to protect us from feeling anxiety. Obviously, this is not good when you want to learn from mistakes and experiences. While we are still in denial, it is incredibly hard to work on it. Sadly, we see this too often in our society, partly due to the enormous stress that is put onto people to perform accordingly.

Are we in denial?

  • You refuse to talk about the problem.
  • You justify your behavior.
  • You look to put blame on other people or outside factors.
  • You keep promising to address the problem in the future.
  • You avoid the problem or thinking about it.

Regret happens when you realize you made a mistake and become incredibly conscious of not making the mistake again. You stop short before there is a possibility of making a mistake. For example, if you overpaid for something and gave too much, you may always pull back and be afraid of overpaying again.

Here are some good quotes:

  • “In life (1) some things are not your fault, but they are your responsibility. (2) Other things are not your responsibility, but they are your problem. (3) Many things are neither your responsibility nor your problem, but they make the world better. Take action on all three.” — James Clear (speaker and author of Atomic Habits)
  • “It doesn’t matter whose fault it is that something is broken if it’s your responsibility to fix it. Accepting responsibility is not an admission of guilt. Taking responsibility is recognition of the power that you seize when you stop blaming people.” — Adam Grant (author and organizational psychologist)
  • “Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.” — Epictetus (Greek Stoic philosopher)

In a fixed mindset, you hold the firm belief that we are born as we are. So, you are born with certain talents and traits that are unchangeable. You are either good at something from birth or simply bad. In a growth mindset, you believe that you can improve on things by working on them. Every failure is an opportunity to learn; every experience hones your skills.

It takes a lot of confidence to own your mistakes and then to go on and solve them. What often stands in our way is an inner voice that tells us we are not enough and that we are a failure.

It goes without saying that it is both a pleasure and an honor to serve you and our great Nation.

Thank a veteran, first responder or a person in blue. Tell at least 15 people that you love them for Valentine’s Day.

(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.


Some people in life just aren’t worth knowing. You know the ones. Always angry. Always gossiping. Always hateful, spiteful and mean. The folks you just steer away from. The kind that just sucks the air out of the room. I call them “toxic waste.” For their spirits to enter your life tarnishes you. Takes away goodness. You never benefit from knowing them.

My sister isn’t that way. Alma is her name. Alma Rose Gonzalez. She’s probably one of the kindest, most wonderful people I have ever met. I love her dearly. She lights up a room with her smile. Her laugh is contagious. To be around her is a joy. She is an angel. Funny thing, she isn’t my blood sister. She’s Cora’s sister. One of the seven kids in the family, born into a South Texas family, living in a two-room house. Maybe it was that adversity that made her understand that you can be however and whatever you want. You can be happy or sad. You can be in heaven or in hell. She chose the path of peace and happiness.

Although she isn’t my blood, over the years, she has worked and wiggled her way into my heart. They always say you can’t pick your family, but if I could, she’d be the one, no doubt. Alma is 58 years old. Young by some standards, old by others, but there is a timelessness about her. One minute she is silly as a goose, the next a wise sage. She loves babies, laughter, family, good food and the Dallas Cowboys.

Alma, years ago, was diagnosed with diabetes. Slowly over the years, diabetes has taken her health, her vision and her leg. But Alma still smiled and laughed. Seemingly unaffected by her fate, she still glowed. Then her heart began having problems. A double bypass put her down for a while, but she still could light up a room and make you look forward to seeing her again. But then, a year ago, cancer came. Cancer is such a vicious beast. It takes you piece by piece. Inch by inch. Day by day.

She was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix. A highly curable condition, if caught early. But as fate would have it, hers was found to be stage 4. Alma now lays in a bed, waiting to walk on. Unable to move. An angel who cannot fly. A fate as cruel as cruel can be.

I tell you this story not as a catharsis, nor in search of sympathy, but rather as a pleading. Some of us don’t want to know bad things, pretending that not knowing will protect us in some way from injury. In Alma’s case, ignorance of her condition provided no shield. Please get checked for diabetes. Please get checked for heart disease. We Native Americans have such a high incident of these maladies. Such simple tests can tell you the dangers and give you a chance, an opportunity, to live as long as you can. Get your Pap smears, your mammograms, your prostate exams, have those skin lesions checked. Have your kids vaccinated against the HPV virus.

It is not Alma’s fault. It is the path she walked. It is her path alone, but each of us will die a little. Sense the loss. Mourn her passing. The world will not be a better place because of her passing. The world will be a little sadder.

By the time you read this, Alma will have walked on. Left us in body, but not in spirit. Left us with good memories of times past. Please say a little prayer for her and keep her story in your heart. Honor her by keeping yourself safe and healthy with those that you love and who love you.

(Thank you),

Andrew Walters
Legislator, District 11