After fires in Texas and western Oklahoma burned more than one million acres in February and March, Citizen Potawatomi Nation stepped up to help some of those impacted by the fires.

Friday, March 8, trucks arrived to load CPN’s donation of 150 bales of hay to be sent to farms in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.

“We worked with a Tecumseh firefighter named Connor Franetovich,” CPN Agricultural Operations Manager Tonya Turnpaugh said. “He organized truck drivers to donate their trucks, fuel and time, and so he got us together with them and set up a pickup time for them to get loaded out.”

CPN’s donation, worth about $8,200, came about after Turnpaugh was speaking to two of her crew members, Kelly Navrath and Blaine Littleton, about the fires. After discussion with her director, then with Vice-Chairman Linda Capps and Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett, it was decided to go ahead with the donation.

Turnpaugh said the Tribe had the hay because of the farming CPN does. Often, she said, when the Tribe has purchased land to build an enterprise on the property, it may take years before construction is ready to begin.

“My department comes in, and we clean the land up and make it useful and productive until the time that we can complete the eventual goal,” she said. “Where they’re building the casino and hotel right now, we farmed that for years.”

A green tractor loads bales of hay onto a flatbed trailer. A person in orange coveralls attaches the straps while another person in a brown rain coat walks across the top of the bales.
CPN’s donated bales are loaded on to trucks.

Turnpaugh said there’s no way of knowing exactly how many people CPN’s donation will help, but added that she feels blessed to help in some way.

“I and one of my hands were cattle ranchers ourselves,” she said. “If we were ever in the same position, we would need help. So I’m really happy and blessed that we were able to help them out.”