Submitted by Blake Norton, Cultural Heritage Center Curator
Over the last four years, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center staff has worked tirelessly to help create not just a museum, but a true community and cultural center. While the 2018 grand opening of the CHC’s museum was an incredible milestone for the staff and community, the work must go on.
This year, staff will continually work to update and add new content to the galleries. These will include new artifact displays, digital interactives and hands-on exhibits. Community programs and classes are being developed around each gallery to tell a more complete story and help Tribal members better understand their mutual pasts.
We hope that the exhibits not only educate but instill community pride and ownership. All that you see was built for and by the Tribe with help from our Tribal members, departments and local businesses. Programs developed from the new galleries will extend these partnerships into 2019 and beyond.
For example, with the help of CPN’s Information Technology, the CHC’s collections and research staff began developing a new content management system for the diverse collections housed and made available via the CHC. The new system will help staff improve oversight of the collections, while providing greater accessibility to our visitors and interested researchers.
In addition, a new family history and genealogical database is being developed that will allow Tribal members to seamlessly research their ancestry, create family trees and learn about their ancestors through small biopics.
The CHC’s research library is currently undergoing renovations to expand its physical holdings. We have added over 500 new resources that include books, journals and special collections focused on Potawatomi-woodland culture and history. We have also added a new interactive station in the library that will display traditional stories and lessons as well as online exhibitions via the CHC’s website.
The CHC website is currently being updated to provide the community with better accessibility to programs, classes and community events. Aside from the museum, our education coordinator, community garden staff and Potawatomi language department will offer new and existing classes.
We are very prideful and appreciative to see the vision of the CHC come to fruition and with such success. It was truly a team effort from start to finish. From Tribal leadership and departmental staff to Tribal membership and local businesses, our community worked together to create something that will last for generations.
We hope that the impact of the CHC can extend beyond our borders and provide assistance to other Native communities in their development of enrichment programs focused on cultural education and preservation, community development and pride. The CHC is grateful for our accomplishments in 2018 and looks forward to an exciting 2019.