The official start of summer — niben (time of plenty) — begins Tuesday, June 21. Before the invention of grocery stores, it was a key time to harvest and procure food as well as celebrate. During niben, Potawatomi continue age-old traditions of the season that strengthen cultural and personal connections.
This month’s Language Department update highlights several events and programs that will be open to Festival-goers, as well as several online resources.
The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Eagle Aviary received its U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit and opened its doors one decade ago this June. Aviary managers Jennifer Randell and Bree Dunham sat down with the Hownikan to reflect on the last decade of caring for these sacred animals and what the next 10 years may bring.
Artisans of all skill levels are welcome to attend the crafts classes at the Cultural Heritage Center during the 2022 Annual Family Reunion Festival. This year, in-person instruction returns to the CHC and will be offered for: bandolier making; beaded Tribal pins and bolo ties; hand drum making; shawl applique and fringe; beaded lanyards; moccasin making; chokers; and beaded bracelets.
This year, Family Reunion Festival attendees will find something in their gift bags they never have before — a set of four children’s books from the Citizen Potawatomi Language Department. The staff worked on them after receiving a $200,000 grant from the United States Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development as part of its Living Languages Grant Program in 2021.
Tribal member Coby Lehman serves as Arena Director for CPN Family Reunion Festival Grand Entry and powwow with assistance from Daniel LeClaire. He spoke with the Hownikan about the importance of proper attire.
During the 2022 Citizen Potawatomi Nation Family Reunion Festival, the Tribe’s Cultural Heritage Center hopes to collect many family heritage interviews during the celebration. This year, all families may use the Festival Interview link on the Potawatomi portal to schedule an interview time.
Nishnabé referred to June as the Dé’men Gises (Strawberry Moon). Potawatomi hold strawberries in high regard, and Bodéwadmimwen (Potawatomi language) expresses it. Dé’men translates to “heart berry.” Strawberries also contribute to heart health, studies show.
In a time of fast fashion when customers often wear runway-inspired items a few times and discard them, many Indigenous designers and producers focus on creating unique pieces that stand the test of trends. Designer Leslie Deer, who is also the Cultural Activities Coordinator at CPN’s Cultural Heritage Center, prefers to make timeless pieces.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Cultural Heritage Center offers cultural and art classes several times a month as a service to the greater surrounding Indigenous community. Participants typically learn how to bead a piece of jewelry or create a piece of regalia led by Cultural Activities Coordinator and artist Leslie Deer.