John “Rocky” Barrett
Tribal Chairman

Headshot of CPN Tribal Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett

Bouzho, Nicon, (Hello, my friend),

Many members of our Tribe are not aware of the hard work under difficult circumstances performed by our Department of Indian Child Welfare headed by Ashlee May. Also, the department that handles Adult Protective Services, which defends our elders, both those in private homes or living in nursing homes. This department operates under the direction of Janet Draper.

One of the reasons I am so concerned about the legal basis under which we protect our children who live in an unworkable or even abusive environment is a piece of Tribal history. This history goes back before the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. The State of California took custody of a CPN child when I was Vice-Chairman in 1975 and placed him in foster care. They then adopted him out. There was no notice to the Tribe and no notice to the grandparents. California even refused to disclose to the parent, the Nation or even local law enforcement where the child was living. This was in the early 1970s. We never found these children. They are now adults. It haunts me still.

In another case, two small children, both under 4 years old, were found in an abandoned car in a slum in Los Angeles in 1994. Their mother, a Citizen Potawatomi woman, was jailed for the third time for drug possession and intoxication. Her parental rights were terminated by the California court. The father was unknown. After a lengthy court fight, we were finally able to take custody and placed the children in an excellent foster home. Sadly, after the children were adults, they both died of drug use.

If a child is in danger, or the child’s parents are incapacitated, incarcerated or grossly negligent, the Tribal Court can take custody of the child until a member of the child’s family or a qualified foster parent is appointed by the Tribal Court.

The problem with assisting abused elders is more delicate. Often the elder has cognitive issues or physical disability and is domiciled in the home of a relative who may or may not be aware of, able or willing to accommodate the problems of the elder. In my opinion, it is the most difficult job in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Our Courts have the ability under Tribal Law to become the Court Appointed Guardian of an elder if he or she is in danger. Taking custody of an adult and protecting their assets is a very difficult and sensitive task. We do it very reluctantly. Quite often, we have the cooperation of a district judge in Oklahoma, for which we are grateful. Often, family will assist when they have planning assistance.

Sadly, in cases outside of Oklahoma, cooperation from local judges has been a part of our battle to protect our children. Most troubling is the hostile attitude and failure to perform their duties lawfully in so many of the state courts. Our Indian Child Welfare advocates have to defend children from becoming wards of the state and adopted out. Most recently, states like Texas, Connecticut and the Commonwealth of Virginia have refused to recognize the federal law under which the Citizen Potawatomi Nation operates in providing care for a child separated from his or her family.

When any state takes custody of any juvenile member of our Tribe, they are required by federal law to inform the Nation. The Tribal caseworker will enter an appearance in the state court representing the child, asserting our custody and jurisdiction over the child, allowing us to place the child in the home of a Tribal relative or a qualified foster parent with home facilities that have been inspected and approved by the Nation. Sadly, there has arisen a virtual cottage industry in foster care. And there is an even more sinister and opaque market for adoptions.

In the case in Virginia, the family court that handles child custody is not a “Court of Record.” In other words, we were not allowed to obtain any court records of any previous proceedings and testimony relating to the Citizen Potawatomi child. This included the circumstances under which the child was seized and the parents deemed to be incapable of keeping the child in a safe environment. In the case I am describing now, the judge refused to hold court any time our representative had flown to Virginia to enter an appearance to inform the court of our authority in the case. They kept this up for two years. The twins were placed in the home of a member of the Virginia court and law enforcement.

These part-time foster parents already had four older foster children and proposed to add the pair who we were trying to represent. This would make six children for which the State of Virginia was paying $1,700 each to this couple (and friend of the judge) for foster care. For as long and for as many children as this employee of the State of Virginia was willing to take, this judge was willing to give them away without our being able to inspect the home and be certain the child’s needs were met. It appeared to be a scheme, with the judge placing every obstacle she could find to obstruct the duty of our Tribal representative. It is now going on four years since the parents and grandparents of these twins have been allowed to see their children. The foster parents are not required by the court to provide the children any contact with their extended Tribal family or be exposed to any part of their Native culture.

Given the age of the twins at the time of their seizure by the State of Virginia, I doubt they will recognize each other.

In the case in the courts of the State of Texas, we have been rejected by the judge in performing our duties by a total refusal to see or read any of our documents in the court, as authorized by federal law, unless they were filed by a Texas lawyer with a Texas Bar Association number. The judge refuses to obey the federal law. We have a solution to this issue, but the expense is formidable.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Tribal Chairman.

Megwetch (Thank you),

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

Linda Capps

Headshot of CPN Tribal Vice-Chairman Linda Capps.

Bozho (Hello),

We had a great time at the 2023 CPN Family Reunion Festival. Aside from the heat and humidity, it was an outstanding event. The honored families were Johnson, Lafromboise, Lareau, LeClair, Melott, Rhodd, Tescier, Weld and Young. My heartfelt thank you goes out to those members of all families that attended. I hope the honored families had a good time at the reunion spaces in the Round House. The families for 2024 will be Darling, Hardin, Higbee, Levier, Lewis, Nadeau, Negahnquet, Pambogo and Smith. If your family is included for 2024, it is time to reach out to your relatives to remind them that they will be honored next summer.

The next major event on CPN’s agenda is the 2023 Balloon Festival, August 11 and 12, 2023. The very first event began in 2017, but this is only our sixth festival since we skipped 2020 due to the pandemic. The Balloon Festival committee has worked diligently this year to make the event bigger, better and more exciting. I believe more people are catching on to the times of day that are especially captivating… to me that is when the balloons are in flight. Friday morning, the balloons are in flight from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. with the caveat that the weather must be permitting. Saturday morning, the times are repeated for the balloons to be in flight. It is a wonderful display to see!

My next favorite sight is the balloon glow beginning at 9 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Friday followed by an amazing firework display. The glow event is repeated on Saturday evening followed by band entertainment. In between my two favorites are countless activities at the festival. There are activities for children, teenagers and adults… something for everyone. It is a spectacular event.

Unfortunately, the heat and the humidity in Oklahoma have converged! Not too different than past years, except July is predicted to be one of the wettest on record. The combination of wet conditions and high temperatures calls for extreme humidity. To add insult to injury, we are dealing with the aftermath of both the tornado of April 19th and an evening with straight-line winds exceeding 70-80 miles an hour. These catastrophes left the Tribe with over $4 million in property damage. The $4 million is a pittance compared to the total damage in the Shawnee area, which suffered widespread destruction on the west side of the city. Thankfully, the roofs are being repaired, awning replacements are ordered, and tree limbs and trunks have been removed.

The good news is that we had insurance to cover the damages, and we will be made whole within a couple of months. All repairs should be completed by the end of September. At that time, we will be preparing for the winter months along with any bad weather anticipated for the year-end and coming new year.

Please know that it is our valued employees that make this Tribe great. They work the Family Reunion Festival, the Balloon Festival, provide daily maintenance, repair damages and supply media content. They staff our medical facilities, maintain our vehicle fleet, provide for our children and work toward educating our students. They manage our enterprises, preserve our heritage, improve our real estate, harvest the crops and provide the accounting for all programs. They administer oversight, assist Tribal members, provide entertainment. They do everything to keep CPN alive and thriving. They are the employees of CPN — loyal, devoted, respected and appreciated.

I enjoy spreading the news about this great Tribe, and I cherish the opportunity to be your Vice-Chairman.

Migwetch (Thank you),

Linda Capps | Segenakwe (Black Bird Woman) | Vice-Chairman | Work: 405-275-3121 | Cell: 405-650-1238 |

Alan Melot
District 1

Headshot of CPN District 1 Legislator Alan Melot.

Howdy, y’all!

I’m looking forward to the Trail of Death Caravan in September! Who’s with me?! I won’t be able to be there for the whole event (keep reading to learn why), and I am so grateful for the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association for doing so much work to make this event happen. There will be special presentations, special site visits and much more on this trip that covers several states as it follows the path our families took when they were forcibly evicted from our ancestral lands. If you haven’t already, please get in touch with our good friend and unofficial tribal historian, PToDA President George Godfrey at or 217-502-9340 so they will know to expect you!

I am so proud and impressed by the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association. For many years, they have been a sub-group of the Fulton County Historical Society in central Indiana. When I became your legislator, I expressed a strong desire for them to find a path to increased self-determination where the direction of the association was determined by Potawatomi. We are appreciative for the work that the Fulton County Historical Society has done over the years in preserving our stories and creating a platform for us to be able to grow from. Their service to us and our history is invaluable; as it always is, we stand highest when we are standing on the work of those who have gone before us. Chi migwetch to all of those who put in hard work on our behalf.

Over the past two years, the PToDA has grown and is now an independent Potawatomi organization! Wateya! After many, many years, we have finally been able to re-appropriate our own history, memories and narratives. Igwien to all involved in this effort. I cannot overstate my gratitude to the PToDA officers and board for their work, and I look forward to the association keeping us connected to our stories as we move forward into time immemorial.

As I look back over the past two years, I recognize that I have fulfilled some of my promises to you and still have some to work on. I am excited about the future of our Nation and want to continue to connect our people. I recognized pretty quickly that I needed more time to be able to serve you, and I have been working behind the scenes to be able to do more. I was invited to join a team working as a school-based therapist in the Neosho, Missouri, school district and plan to start there when school starts in August. This is a huge change for me in that I get to work with kids again (YAY!), and I get to work the school schedule… which means I’ll free up most of the summer to be able to travel through the district! This move is an answer to prayer for me, as it allows me to serve my community in a way I feel called to and allows me to serve you in a way I said that I would. The only downside of the transition is that I can’t get off work for the entire Trail of Death Caravan next month, which is why I won’t be able to be there for the whole event. I’m sad that I will have to miss parts of the caravan, but I know that it’s a good trade since I’ll be able to invest so much more time in the district in coming years.

On a final note, I ordered books written by the late Jim Thunder that have stories in Bodéwadmimwen and English. If you live in District 1 and would like one, let me know via email or text or phone call or Facebook or skywriting or carrier pigeon or however else you prefer, and I’ll get one sent out to you.

Bama pi, jayek (Until later, everyone),

Alan Melot | Legislator, District 1 | | 608 S. Sergeant | Joplin, MO 64801 | 417-312-3307

Eva Marie Carney
District 2

Headshot of CPN District 2 Legislator Eva Marie Carney.

Bozho, nikanek (Hello, friends),

Family Reunion Festival recap

The Family Reunion Festival weekend, once again, was fun and meaningful. I was honored to assist Mike Carter/Jejak (Colorado/Peltier family) with several family namings, share dinner with the Legislators and some spouses in the Grand Casino’s Deer Room, participate in Grand Entry for the first time since 2019, and visit with many folks, including the spirited members of this year’s Hand Games team. The team included three generations of the Lewis family (Nancy Korzeniewski, Kim Chatfield Pratt, and Anna Korzeniewski) as well as Kathy Meacham Webb, Kabl Wilkerson, Rachel Watson and me. I am sharing an action shot of the D2 team after Rachel scored a point. We played in the final round and had an exciting time. I hope to see many District 2 folks at next year’s Festival.

Five of our nine board members of The Kwek Society attended the Family Reunion Festival and were able to meet up before General Council to pose for the photo taken by another great kwe (woman), former CPN Public Information Director Jennifer Bell. Shown left to right, top row – Pam Vrooman (OK), Kathy Meacham Webb (TN), and Kim Chatfield Pratt (VA); bottom row – Paige Willett (OK) and Tesia Zientek (OK). I am in the photo but am not a board member – I am our Executive Director. Not pictured are Barbara Hannigan (VA), Lisa Witt (NM), Susie Howard (NH) and Winona Elliott (Ontario, CN). It was lovely to gather briefly, not over Zoom! I am grateful to these kwe’k for their generous service and support of our mission to end period poverty in Indigenous North America!

Recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act

In a 7-2 decision issued on June 15, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ICWA, which prioritizes, in adoption proceedings involving Native American children, the child’s placement with an Indian family from the child’s tribe or another Indian tribe and protects the right of the child’s tribe to intervene in the proceedings. Many are characterizing the decision as a major victory for Native American rights. One statement in the concurring opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch is too good not to share in full:

“Our Constitution reserves for the tribes a place – an enduring place – in the structure of American life. It promises them sovereignty for as long as they wish to keep it. And it secures that promise by divesting States of authority over Indian affairs and by giving the federal government certain significant (but limited and enumerated) powers aimed at building a lasting peace.”

It is a good day when justice and fairness prevail!

Celebrating Neshnábé cooking

District 2 resident and friend Jody Gzhadawsot Mattena just published her first cookbook, Gbaton Neshnábé — Cook Something Neshnábé: How to Decolonize Your Pantry and Diet. I just received my copy from Amazon (it is available in hardback, softcover and Kindle) and am delighted with it. Jody explains food sovereignty and the Honorable Harvest throughout the book and includes recipes for fish, venison, buffalo, breads, desserts, entrees, herbs, spices and foraged staples, referencing ancestral Bodwéwadmimwen (Potawatomi) and English terms. A delicious way to get more familiar with our language and foodways!

Save the date

Our annual Fall Feast will take place in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday, November 11, 2023. Please save the date; more details to follow in next month’s column and through email, the traditional mailed postcard invitation, and social media.

Enjoy the summer, bama mine (until next time),

Eva Marie Carney | Ojindiskwe (Bluebird woman) | | | | 5877 Washington Blvd. PO Box 5591 | Arlington, VA 22205 | Toll Free: 866-961-6988

Bob Whistler
District 3

Headshot of CPN District 3 Legislator Bob Whistler.

Bozho Nikan (Hello friend),

August meeting

Our District 3 meeting scheduled for Aug. 12 is being held in Bryan, Texas, and I will provide details of the meeting in the October Hownikan. Given our very hot summer, I am hoping that it doesn’t stifle attendance.

USPS stamp

The USPS issued a stamp this year on May 12 honoring Chief Standing Bear, a Ponca Nation Chief who was their leader in the late 1800s. He successfully argued in 1879 that Native Americans needed to be recognized as people in the eyes of the law. The landmark court ruling that he took to task confirmed that under the law we have the inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Chief Standing Bear (1829-1908) lived in the area of the Niobrara River in northeastern Nebraska. The Ponca Nation was relocated in the late 1800s to a parcel of land on the outskirts of Ponca City, Oklahoma. The relocation resulted from the 1868 Fort Laramie treaty, which included the land the Ponca Nation was on that became part of the overall Great Sioux Reservation. The USPS has issued stamps of past leaders and patriots who have been involved in positive changes in our history. It is an excellent gesture by the USPS that they have honored Chief Standing Bear with this forever stamp for his courage in getting this area of right to life recognized. In our language, Mko (bear) is the protector of the people in the forest. His name is so fitting.

Family Reunion Festival

At the legislative meeting held on Monday, June 26, a question was asked as to how many attended Family Reunion Festival this year. The number given was that it was around 3,200. We had a very good turnout, and the Grand Entry on Saturday, June 24 was excellent with many participating in this ceremony. Our staff does a great job in putting this weekend together. They create craft classes for the attendees that include making chokers, beading lanyards, making drums, moccasins and other items. Something that every attendee receives at registration is a name tag and a backpack type bag. The back of the name badge has six quick Potawatomi language idioms commonly used. The bag issued holds items for all ages with a variety of uses. I have included a photo of the bag given out this year. It contained a drinking bottle, a fan that can be collapsed into the handle, a pen, a pencil, a small note pad, lip balm, antibacterial hand sanitizer spray, a small balloon, crayons, a color book Fun With Forest Friends, a pocket Potawatomi dictionary with about 45 general words or phrases, and two books for all ages that are written in our language. We hope that this exposure to our language will create the desire to begin learning the language, since it is very important that it be preserved and taken into the future. I included this topic so those of you who haven’t attended Family Reunion Festival in the past see the value that is offered by attending in the future.

Potawatomi Gathering

I will be attending the Potawatomi Gathering this year hosted by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi in Fulton, Michigan, July 24-29 and will cover that event in my September article.

In closing, I am honored to represent District 3 and am your voice to our leadership. So, if you have a question on services or benefits that needs clarification, please feel free to contact me.

Nagech (Later),

Bob Whistler | Bmashi (He Soars) | | | 1516 Wimberly Ct. | Bedford, TX 76021 | 817-229-6271 |

Jon Boursaw
District 4

Headshot of CPN District 4 Legislator Jon Boursaw.

Bozho (Hello),

Potawatomi Trail of Death Pilgrimage Event

Saturday, September 23 | 9-10:30 a.m.
Heritage Park, Marina parking lot
16050 Pflumm, Olathe, KS 66062

This is open to all CPN members and families. If you would like to join us for breakfast, please let me know by email or phone not later than 3 p.m., Monday, Sept. 18.

Additional Upcoming District 4 Events

Oct. 21: A District 4 meeting will be held in the CPN Community Center in Rossville on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. I am very pleased to announce that Ronnie Wear, the General Manager & CEO of Sovereign Pipe Technologies, CPN’s latest economic development expansion, will be our speaker. If you plan to attend, please let me know no later than 5 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Oct. 29: I will hold a District 4 meeting at the All-Indian Center located at 650 N. Seneca St. in Wichita on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 12:30 p.m. It is my honor to announce that Bryan Cain, President and CEO of the CPN-owned Sovereign Bank, formerly the First National Bank, has accepted my invitation to speak. If you plan to attend, please let me know no later than 5 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 24.

To RSVP, call me at 785-608-1982 or email You can also call Lyman Boursaw at 785-249-2915. Please identify which meeting you plan to attend.

VA Waives Copays for Native American and Alaska Native Veterans

On April 4, 2023, the VA published a final rule waiving copayments for health care and all urgent care visits for eligible Native American and Alaska Native Veterans.

Copays for domiciliary care, institutional respite care, institutional geriatric evaluation, and nursing home care are still required.

How does the new policy benefit Native American and Alaska Native Veterans?

Retroactively reimburses eligible Native American and Alaska Native Veterans from copayments for health care and all urgent care visits received on or after Jan. 5, 2022.
Eliminates future collection of copayments for health care and all urgent care visits for eligible Native American and Alaska Native Veterans.

How to receive this benefit:

I recommend you contact your VA facility for details on how to be identified in the VA system as a Native American Veteran and how you may be eligible for reimbursement, if applicable. You will need your CPN enrollment card and a copy of your DD form 214. You can also learn more about at or call 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411) for more information.

Upcoming CPN Elders’ Potlucks

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

Aug. 11 | Goulash | RSVP by the 8th
Sept. 8 | BBQ meat balls & cheesy potatoes | RSVP by the 5th

Join us and bring your favorite side dish or dessert. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Tracy at 785-584-6171.

Updates on Uniontown Cemetery and Burnett’s Grave Site Projects

Uniontown Cemetery: The ground penetrating radar surveys have been completed and we are awaiting their analysis. Next up will be the rebuilding of the rock walls and resetting the grave markers.

Burnett’s Grave Site: The tree stumps have been removed, and the site has been leveled. By the time this Hownikan edition is printed, the new fence should have been installed and the site covered with river rock. Next up is placement of a small cedar tree at each corner of the site.

It is an honor to serve as your legislator.

Megwetch (Thank you),

Jon Boursaw | Wetase Mkoh (Brave Bear) | | 2007 SW Gage Blvd. | Topeka, KS 66604 | 785-608-1982 | Office Hours: Tuesday 9-11 a.m. | Thursdays 3-5 p.m. | Other times as requested

Gene Lambert
District 5

Headshot of CPN District 5 Legislator Gene Lambert.

Bozho (Hello),

There is so much going on in the world, it is difficult to determine what to write about. Water might be a good subject as it affects us all.

One of the most basic of necessities has now brought out the old and present power struggles. I have personally witnessed most of them, having been a resident in Arizona since 1972.

The opinion of support has changed.

The changes are due to the present water shortage not only in Arizona but across the nation, directly affecting New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. California has had water and fire issues always hand in hand. You would think we could figure something out for their crops since the ocean sits on its shores. But no!

Remembering firsthand the negative side of negotiations with the Salt River Pima Community and the State of Arizona, this isn’t new.

It first started when the State of Arizona highways department wanted to build the 101 freeway across the Pima’s frontage property. As I recall, Arizona offered the Pima $3,000 to $6,000 for said property. Of course, the Pimas were insulted by the offer and so stated to the authorities, claiming the property was invaluable.

The pressure was on, and the City of Scottsdale started claiming that the cotton fields were causing the locals cancer of various types.

To end it all, the Salt River Pimas let Scottsdale residents know they could not utilize half of the main road because the property belonged to them right to the white line. Two years passed and Scottsdale Community College students were having to go around to another entrance as it was located on tribal land.

The State of Arizona and City of Scottsdale did finally come to their senses and rightfully paid for the property in question. I call that bullying, pure and simple, as it went on for two years.

Now, here we are again after reaching casino agreements, trust lands, sovereignty rights, threatening limitations should the local tribes not succumb to the growing Arizona population’s need for water.

The Navajo Nation constructed their medical center facility over one year ago.
The Dilkon Medical Center cost over $128,000,000 along with housing for their medical staff.

They cannot open the costly facility due to the lack of water, and they, too, are being threatened with limitations should they not agree with the State of Arizona on water rights. All other states have negotiated and been in agreement to date as per the Phoenix New Times.

It was also stated that it is now sitting with the Department of Interior for final analysis.

The new Arizona policies will force the Pascua Yaqui to decide what they need most: housing or water.

The State of Arizona has set forth conditions for tribes who do not complete a water agreement that could affect any potential expansion or renewal of casino license.

One of the Arizona concerns according to locals is they could lose their governing rights if the 22 Arizona tribes continued to expand their land base and population. It sounds a bit preposterous to me.

I Googled the numbers and wonder how that could possibly be. Arizona land base: 72.69 million acres; federal government owned: 30.74 million acres; and approximately, 20 million acres tribal land, so the Arizona state department owns 10.9 million acres. Maybe there should be concern?

None the less, we all need water. To hold someone hostage with food or water as governments have done to tribes in the past is certainly unacceptable, especially when the same tribes have assisted Phoenix with their water shortages in the past.

We all need to be cognizant of our water usage. It is an international concern.

Please take good care of yourselves and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Migwetch (Thank you),

Gene Lambert (Eunice Imogene Lambert) | Butterfly Woman | |270 E Hunt Highway Ste 229 | San Tan Valley, AZ 85143 | Cell: 480-228-6569 | Office: 480-668-0509

Mark Johnson
District 7

Headshot of Mark Johnson, District 7 incumbent

Bozho nikanek (Hello friends),

Another Family Reunion Festival has come and gone in Shawnee for 2023. If you were unable to attend this event this year, it is never too early to start planning for next year, particularly if your family falls into the Honored Families for 2024, which are: Darling, Hardin, Higbee, Levier, Lewis, Nadeau, Negahnquet, Pambogo and Smith. The Festival always falls on the Friday through Sunday of the last full weekend in June.

I know it is not possible for everyone to attend the district meetings and the Family Reunion Festival in Shawnee, but hopefully you can make the trip sometime. The memories will last a lifetime. I thought I would point out some cultural opportunities in District 7 that are available in California and Nevada in August, September and October that you may want to visit. Even though these are not Potawatomi events, they can be well worth spending some time at:

  • Yurok Tribe’s 50th Annual Klamath Salmon Festival 2023 | Aug. 19, 2023
  • Yurok Tribe | 190 Klamath Blvd, Klamath, CA, 95548
  • Numaga Indian Days Pow Wow 2023 | Sept. 1 – 3, 2023
  • Reno-Sparks Indian Colony | County Hwy 200, Sparks, NV, 89441
  • Stillwater Pow Wow 2023 | Oct. 6 – 8, 2023
  • Redding Rodeo Grounds | 715 Auditorium Dr, Redding, CA, 96001

Rande Payne and I will also be co-hosting a joint district gathering in central California this fall. Last year’s gathering was well attended and a hit with those who attended. It is always great to get together and enjoy our heritage. Watch your mail for an invitation card.

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.

Migwetch (Thank you),

Mark Johnson | Wisk Mtek (Strong as a Tree) | 559-351-0078 |

Dave Carney
District 8

Headshot of CPN District 8 Legislator Dave Carney.

Bozho, nikan (Hello, friend),

The 2023 Family Reunion Festival was a great opportunity to meet new and old Potawatomi friends, and it’s always an adventure to travel to Oklahoma. The weather mostly cooperated, with a few notable exceptions: There was a storm that came through Friday afternoon with torrential rains forcing vendors off the fairgrounds for several hours, and temperatures spiked (heat index of 103 F I’ve been told) during Grand Entry.

Each year, the Nation hosts members and their significant others for a weekend of cultural activities, touring, games and spiritual pursuits (namings and church services) the last full weekend of June. Having gone to quite a few of these, I can say that there is always something new to see each year. This year’s “new to me” sites were the foundations of the columbarium (niche wall for urns holding our loved ones’ ashes) and seeing the Sovereign Pipe Technologies production plant up and working.

Niche wall: Over 10 years ago, the planning began for a columbarium at the Nation to receive the cremated remains of Tribal members and their spouses. I’m pleased to say that great progress has been made, and the foundation has been poured for the first section of niche wall. The design is inspired by a medicine wheel, and the location is on the grounds of the old quaker church on Gordon Cooper Drive, just beyond the Cultural Heritage Center and the Absentee Shawnee Health clinic. More details will be forthcoming.

Sovereign Pipe Technologies: Several members of the legislature received a tour of the new plant that is up and functioning. It is a fascinating enterprise and one that will go far in diversifying our business base and energize Iron Horse Industrial Park. The plant will be capable of making pipe from 4 to 40 inches wide, and it will be used for water, sewer and oil refining. The whole process starts with raw pellets that are brought in by our own train line and stored in silos (pictured here). Pipes are made with state-of-the-art extruding equipment per order specifications and will be shipped across the country.

I will continue to send out updated information through email. It’s been said many times, but if you would like to get regular e-mails from me, e-mail me at

Please save the date: I am looking forward to being able to meet in person with District 8 members. The date of the Fall Feast has been set for Oct. 14, and it will be held at the Duwamish Long House in Seattle, Washington. It will be a mid-day meal and gathering.

It is my honor to serve as your Legislator,

Dave Carney | Kagashgi (Raven) | | 520 Lilly Road, Building 1 | Olympia, WA 98506 | 360-259-4027

Paul Wesselhöft
District 9

Headshot of CPN District 9 Legislator Paul Wesselhoft.

Bozho, nikan (Hello, friend),

A Blessing in Smoke

Smudging is a Native American sacred ritual. To receive the smoke from another Native American, especially an elder or a leader, is an honor and a spiritual blessing. This ritual has been performed by Native Americans for thousands of years.

Historically, the burning of incense is a divine command that reaches back in time to Moses, the Law Giver. In Exodus chapter 30, God gave Moses and his brother Aaron detailed instructions for the proper time and place of burning incense. The sweet smell and smoke were to be burned before the Lord as a holy act of worship.

The sweet fragrance and smoke are symbolic. It’s a misinterpretation to believe that there is something magic about the smoke and ritual. The whole symbolic meaning of the ceremony is in a person’s desire to be blessed, cleansed and purified. It’s one’s attitude and understanding toward the ritual that is important.

In Christianity, when a priest or minister waves the incented smoke down the aisle of the sanctuary, he or she is performing a symbolic ritual, and the smoke represents the Holy Spirit. There is nothing magic being performed in the church, just rich spiritual symbolism.

For Native Americans smudging is also a ritual full of symbolic meaning. Some Native Americans consider the sweet aroma and smoke as symbolizing something pleasing to God as one is being blessed by another.

For other Native Americans, the ritual has no connection to God, but to Mother Earth and its richness. For them it is a purification ceremony using the gifts that the earth has provided to heal and promote positive thoughts and feelings. Yet others participate in the ritual for no meaning other than solidarity with thousands of Native Americans who have done the same ritual for thousands of years.

The deeper meaning of the ritual, therefore, is in the mind and heart of the one performing the ritual and the one receiving the aroma and smoke.

Historically, Native Americans believed that there was power in the herbs and smoke that rid their bodies and the space around them of unwanted thoughts and feelings. For them, the ritual promoted a higher state of well-being. Contemporary Native Americans can consider the ritual as doing the same. Again, the interpretation is in the mind and heart. It is how you perceive the ceremony that is of importance.

The ritual itself can be performed in different ways, but there is a standard among most Indigenous people. Allow me to offer such a standard.

First gather the ingredients consisting of sage, which represents the maternal lineage of women. Cedar is recommended because it is known for cleaning and purifying. Sweetgrass is known as the hair of Mother Earth, and it is also known as “holy grass.” When it burns, it does not produce an open flame but sweet-scented smoke. And tobacco is considered a sacred medicine.

The herbal ingredients are placed in an abalone shell bowl and set on fire by rubbing flints against the sweetgrass. Place your hand over the bowl to extinguish the fire but allowing the smoke to rise. The herbs used have antiseptic features that when burned purify the air.

An elder or leader can be the one who carries the bowl around the room to each participant. That person should smudge themselves first. Then he or she fans the smoke toward the person with an eagle’s wing. The receiver fans the smoke with his or her hands all over their head and upper body as they pray or meditate on the meaning of the ritual. After the ceremony, it is respectful to return the ashes from the herbs back to the earth.

The ritual of smudging is a blessing in smoke.

Migwetch (Thank you),

Paul Wesselhöft | Naganit (Leader) | |

David Barrett
District 10

Headshot of CPN District 10 Legislator David Barrett.

Bozho (Hello),

At this year’s Family Reunion Festival, we had over 150 veterans come by the veteran’s table on Thursday afternoon through Friday night at closing (8:30 p.m.) after registering their family. It was again an enjoyable time to visit with other veterans across our nation. They filled out new application forms to update their current information. No membership fees, and they were all given a red ribbon to attach to their registration ID name packet.

On Saturday (Voting Day), we also had our monthly veteran’s meeting at the FireLake Golf Course clubhouse at 9 a.m. We had a good turnout of about 40-plus who attended. Our Vice-Chairman Capps brought 3-4 dozen donuts, which were deeply appreciated to go with our coffee furnished by the golf club. Everybody had a chance to introduce themselves and tell what service and a little bit about what they did in the military.

After the meeting, we adjourned to the round house for the 13 folds ceremony of the American Flag and with each fold the explanation of the meaning of that fold. Right after this ceremony we went directly to the flag retirement ceremony showing the proper way to dispose of our flags. We presented the flags to the commander for final inspection and for a dignified disposal since these flags have become faded and worn in a tribute of service and love.

We incorporated this year anybody who was in the crowd to participate in holding the flags for inspection. Then after all flags were inspected and deemed fit for retirement, each person handed the flag to the sergeant-at-arms to present to the commander for final disposition.

We had a mixed group of people holding the flags, from young girls to boys to adults. What a humbling sight to see. Wow!

We then went to General Council (3 p.m.) where Sovereign Bank President/CEO Bryan Cain informed us about the finances of our Nation’s bank, and Secretary/Treasurer D. Wayne Trousdale gave the state of affairs report for our Nation. The results of the Legislature election were announced, and the swearing in took place.

The next was about 7:30 p.m. when the veterans lowered the flag that was flying on the east dance arena flagpole to give to the Honored Veteran Jon Boursaw right after the Chairman smudged the dance arena for Grand Entry.

In the veteran’s meeting Saturday morning, we assigned who was carrying which flag during Grand Entry by their name, military service, and which flag in order for the arena director to know and call out their names when entering the arena.

My point of telling you all of this is that preparation and planning for the Festival isn’t by chance. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes unnoticed. I personally know it takes a lot of people to pull off the Festival. Thanks to all who were involved. We had one afternoon blowing rainstorm, which I think was the first time ever that the weather scrambled our members; however, after it passed, the brats and fry bread were again cooking. Then the sun started to shine.

Take time to thank a veteran, first responder and a person in blue when you have an opportunity, and I hope you all had a great 4th of July.

It goes without saying that it is both a pleasure and an honor to serve you and our great Nation. I am truly grateful for your trust in me by reelecting me as you legislator. This will not be taken for granted, and I will promise all the Nation’s members that I will try to continue earning all of your trust.

Migwetch (Thank you),

David Barrett | Mnedobe (Sits with the Spirits) | | 1601 S. Gordon Cooper Dr. | Shawnee, OK 74801 | 405-275-3121