As the 2023 annual Family Reunion Festival returns to the Citizen Potawatomi headquarters, so do competitions like traditional handgames, art contests and more.

Art competitions

Tribal members of all ages can enter their creations in some category of the annual art competitions. Past submissions have included mediums like paintings, photography, sculpture, beadwork and moccasins.

For those age 15 and younger, there are art contests available for four ages groups: age 5 and younger, ages 6-9, ages 10-12 and ages 13-15.

Each participant may enter one piece of art, and art can be submitted between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the youth tent, located south of the FireLake Water Tower. All pieces must have been created before Festival but within the past three years.

First, second and third place winners will receive a FireLake gift card. Judging starts after registration ends, and winners are typically announced by 10 a.m. Any artwork that is not picked up at that time will be put in the concession trailer.

For Tribal members who are 16 and older, there are amateur and professional categories for the adult art contest. Contestants can only enter one of those categories.

Submissions can include all types of modern and traditional art, and the art does not have to include Indigenous themes.

Artists who have been paid for the type of work they are submitting should enter the professional division. Professional artists can enter only one piece. First place is $300, and the winner will be selected by a vote of the Potawatomi people taken in the foyer of FireLake Arena.

If an artist has never been paid to create work in a certain medium, they can submit a piece in that medium in the amateur division. Amateur artists can enter up to three pieces of art in two categories: photography/painting or other mediums.

Winners of the amateur art contest will be selected by a professional artist, and prizes are $300 for first, $200 for second and $100 for third place.

Registration for adult art contests is from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at FireLake Arena. All entries must be the work of the artist without any assistance.

All prize winners will be announced during General Council, where the prize money will be awarded. All entries must be picked up by the end of General Council.


The traditional handgames competition will be Friday night. The family competition sometimes has more than 100 participants broken into groups of seven.

The traditional Potawatomi game goes back generations.

Each team of seven has one captain, one picker and two hiders. The two hiders each hold a colored bead in their hands, which they pass back and forth behind their backs as another team’s picker attempts to guess where the beads are. The hiders must stay in the circles painted on the ground but can still use tactics such as dancing and singing to distract the pickers.

Once the judge calls for hands forward, the picker uses a stick to indicate one of four guesses for the location of the beads. If they guess correctly, their team gets a point. If they do not guess correctly, the other team gets a turn.

The winning team will receive $100 for each of the seven team members.

At the beginning of the game, each team’s flag will be sold at auction. The winning team will also receive 25 percent from the auction, with the remaining 75 percent going to the person who bought their flag.

Find more information about hand games on the Hownikan Podcast at

Other competitions

Other competitions open to Tribal members will include fry bread making, softball, golf, volleyball, dominos, checkers, chess, three-on-three basketball, archery, horseshoes and dance competitions. More information on dance competitions is available here.

For some of those competitions, prizes can range from $100 for first-place individuals to $1,100 for first-place teams.

Look for more details in the Festival registration packet, or learn more about Festival at