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Intern secures funding for Cultural Heritage Center project Bridging the Gap

Beaubien descendant and Oklahoma Baptist University senior Kaitlyn Precure recently completed an internship with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Office of Self-Governance. Her work focused on potential funding opportunities to expand the CPN Cultural Heritage Center’s programming. Her grant writing efforts will allow the CHC to digitize historical documents, including 14 boxes of Tribal members’ belongings currently possessed by the Oklahoma Historical Society through Bridging the Gap. The funding also supports forming digital archives so that CPN members, educators and the public will have the opportunity to access a free internet database, no matter where they may reside.

Former PLP participant Kaitlyn Precure enjoys every opportunity to learn more about her Potawatomi heritage.

“Online accessibility allows us to reach the broadest audience and creates a direct link between the community and their cultural resources,” said CHC Curator Blake Norton. “It also provides us the opportunity to develop programming around the resources that lend to a more comprehensive, enriching and user-friendly research experience.”

Bridging the Gap focuses on taking the documents and artifacts housed by the OHS and pairing them with Tribal allotments.

“Understanding the skillset that Kaitlyn brought to her internship, we were excited to go after the highly competitive grant and get this important project off the ground,” Norton said.

Expanding skillset

When Precure approached CPN’s Department of Education Internship and Project Coordinator Channing Seikel about opportunities at the Nation, they discussed her passions to find the perfect placement. As a business major, Precure enjoys data, but for her internship, she wanted to do more than just work with numbers. The opportunity to build her written communication skills interested her.

“I knew Kaitlyn was an extremely bright young woman with ambition to serve the Tribe. The Office of Self-Governance was looking for someone to work on a summer project, and I believed that she would have an amazing perspective to do the job,” Seikel said. “She is a business major, so I wasn’t exactly sure how that would work. But it fit really well for a short-term project with the Tribe.”

The Bridging the Gap project is close to Precure’s heart, as the OHS’s archives currently have a box that includes her Potawatomi family’s artifacts.

“I think that’s probably why it was such a success because I was so passionate about it, and that usually helps your writing,” Precure added. “Because I wanted for any Tribal family to be able to see something that visually links them to their heritage … like if there was a recipe, even if it was written out in Potawatomi, for them to be able to see their ancestor’s handwriting, and maybe be able to make that recipe and have that connection.”

Heritage

Like many CPN members, Precure did not grow up traditionally, and she has learned about her Potawatomi roots as a young adult. In 2017, she accepted the opportunity to participate in the Potawatomi Leadership Program during the summer. This experience helped fuel her desire to connect with the Nation.

“Out of my entire family, it’s just me that has any active involvement with the Tribe, and I know there are so many people like me who would love to be able to have a connection that gives them a starting place to become more involved,” she said.

Through Bridging the Gap, she hopes to find links to her ancestral past as well as extend that opportunity to fellow CPN members.

“Knowing that I had a small part in this project from the beginning, it just feels so special,” she said.

Her internship connected her to Potawatomi heritage and boosted her self-confidence.

“The Tribe’s internship program really helps students understand and figure out what they may want or may not want to do long term,” Siekel said. “It is all about trial and error, and having an internship program allows us to figure likes and dislikes out. I am so glad she had the opportunity to really figure out that she wants a more one-on-one or face-to-face position to work with individuals.”

To learn more about CPN’s internship program, visit cpn.news/edu.