This episode is filled with music! A Potawatomi folk artist releases her first solo album and plays a show in Oklahoma City, and the CPN Language Department teaches kids Christmas carols as part of a youth choir program. We’ll also explore the ways the Tribe gives back to the community around the holidays as employees lead the programs.
As the largest employer in Pottawatomie County, Citizen Potawatomi Nation recognizes the need to give back to the community during the holidays. Enterprises, employees and several departments across the Tribe collect and supply food and gifts every fall. The Salvation Army is one of the Tribe’s biggest community partners, and FireLake Discount Foods remains one of CPN’s most charitable enterprises.
Intensive and Social Service Counselor Gina Bundy leads CPN Workforce & Social Service’s holiday food basket drives at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“There’s absolutely no stopping us when it comes to who we’re going to help. It doesn’t matter who you are. Nobody is going to say, ‘Oh, we can’t help you because of whatever reason.’ It’s, ‘Yeah, we’re going to help you because you need it.’ It’s that simple,” she said.
Visit FireLake Discount Foods online at firelakefoods.com and on Facebook at FireLake Discount Foods. Find more information about Workforce & Social Services’ programs at cpn.news/workforce and FireLodge Children & Family Services at potwatomi.org/firelodge.
A few years ago, Language Department Director Justin Neely started the Potawatomi Youth Choir. He believes the holidays are a good time of year for anyone to start learning the language. Hownikan Podcast caught up with him and others at practice.
Attendees prepared for caroling around the Tribe’s elder housing as well as a couple of events throughout December to bring Christmas joy. Neely taught them songs such as Frosty the Snowman, Silver Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Let It Snow – all translated into Potawatomi.
“Song is a great way to learn language. It’s a lot of fun. It’s easy to remember. It’s something you can sing along with. The whole family can get involved, ” said Neely. “It’s just a real fun kind of activity.”
CPN Youth Choir meets on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. in the Long Room at the CPN Cultural Heritage Center near Shawnee, Oklahoma. For more events and times, visit potawatomi.org/events.
It’s time for Learning Language, when CPN Language Department Director Justin Neely teaches song, phrases, stories and more. This episode includes a translated Christmas carol the Potawatomi Youth Choir learned.
O-dan meyay-win, nee myay-way sin. É may-emay zach o yak.
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks. Dressed in holiday style.
Sh pe muk, e juh mosh-toke ee Kweesmus.
In the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas.
Pino-juk bab wék, ja-yuk bum-sét. Wab dan sho mee-gway win.
Children laughing, people passing. Meeting smile after smile.
Et-so meyay-way-sek guh-da no dan,
And on every street corner you hear,
Shone-yah wabuck, tet-ah-gasin
Silver bells, silver bells
We Kweesmeswin shee odah-nuck.
It’s Christmas time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, no din nee.
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring.
Mahmee eh we Kweesmeswuck.
Soon it will be Christmas day.
For more information and opportunities with language, including self-paced classes, visit cpn.news/language. You can find an online dictionary at potawatomidictonary.com as well as videos on YouTube. There are also Potawatomi courses on the language learning app Memrise.
After receiving the Artists in Business Leadership Fellowship grant from the First Peoples Fund nonprofit, CPN folk and Americana musician Elexa Dawson took the time to travel and write her first solo album. The Ogee family descendant sought to create something that represented her as a solo act and Potawatomi citizen. Music is Medicine came out December 6, 2019. She spoke with Hownikan Podcast before performing at VZD’s Restaurant and Bar in Oklahoma City.
“Saying ‘music is medicine’ is something that I just kind of started doing, and I didn’t realize that I was going to name the album that until somebody asked me, ‘Well, what’s the title track to the album?’ Because there’s not a song on the album called Music is Medicine, but that’s been my year,” Dawson said. “It’s been focusing on making music that comes from a place within me that everybody has.”
Music is Medicine is available for purchase from Lost Cowgirl Records and elexadawson.com. Stream her music on Spotify, Google Play, YouTube and Apple Music.
Hownikan Podcast is produced and distributed by Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Public Information Department. Subscribe to Hownikan Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud and wherever you find your favorite shows. Find digital editions of the Tribal newspaper here.