Meliah Macon loves all things Japanese. She began admiring the culture’s beauty and eccentricities at a young age. She moved to Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan, two years ago. She now lives in Chiba City, Chiba. She attended the Potawatomi Leadership Program at CPN headquarters the first time she left home and studied part of her culture she never had before.
Macon participated in PLP before college in 2010. Her brother Cody Macon also participated in 2006 after their great-aunt researched their family heritage and began receiving the Hownikan. They found out about the program through the paper and applied.
“I was able to gain the knowledge of my ancestry and proudly claim it as my identity. Before the program, I knew I was Native American, but that’s about all I knew,” Macon said. “Afterward, I became aware of what it means to live as a Native American in today’s society.”
Maturing for life
That summer she fostered essential everyday skills like cooking, household upkeep and budgeting. Forming lifelong friendships with acquaintances and learning about the Tribe’s growth taught her confidence and prepared her for adulthood.
“I just remember being surrounded by awesome people around my age that all shared the same heritage as me. We connected so well that summer, and I will never forget them,” she said. “Spending pretty much every day that summer with such interesting and different people was quite the experience.”
Tribal Vice-Chairman Linda Capps gave her the name Msko Moewe Kwe, Red Wolf Woman, as she began the next phase of life.
“During our ceremony, it began to lightly rain. While most would think this would ruin the event, I — as well as many others, I’m sure — felt that it enhanced the experience to make it even more special,” Macon said. “It was one of the most touching and important moments in my life.”
She graduated high school in Vidor, Texas, and enrolled at Texas State University in San Marcos before the program. She interned with public information, economics and the legislative branch of Tribal government that summer. The experience introduced potential degree disciplines.
“I had already decided what I thought I wanted to study at university before going in the program,” Macon said. “My second year in university, I discovered I had a stronger interest in mass communications, and it was partly influenced by my time learning in various departments at CPN.”
She combined her passions and spent a year studying in Japan. CPN scholarships helped her graduate with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and communications in 2015.
Potawatomi in Japan
She moved back to Japan two years ago and lives with her turtle Yoshi and cat Jiji. Macon loves karaoke and Korean pop music.
“My interests are definitely on Asian entertainment, specifically Japanese and Korean. I love music, TV dramas, movies and shows from both countries,” Macon said. “I also enjoy appreciating every form of dance.”
She is fluent in Japanese and connects with others by bridging language gaps.
“In the end, we are all human and very similar in how we live our lives no matter what language we speak,” Macon said. “It is also very fascinating to discover similarities in words and speech among different cultures.”
She found employment where “it just felt like I belonged” using her bilingual abilities. Model Language Studio hired her as an English teacher. The curriculum combines acting methods and linguistics to give students confidence while speaking a new language.
“My current company gives lessons to a few Japanese celebrities, and that is why I joined it,” Macon said. “My dream is to work with Japanese, and hopefully other East Asian talent, on learning and using English fluently to further their career into the English-speaking world and places like Hollywood.”
Macon’s Baptist faith stabilizes her. It made several challenging decisions and moving across the globe easier. She sought out a new church to attend in Japan after settling.
“I have been able to be surrounded by a supportive Christian community wherever I have lived,” she said. “Even now, in a country that is predominately Buddhist and Shinto, I am able to have such a wonderful church family that shares my faith and beliefs exactly.”
Her favorite bible verse is Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Learn more about the PLP at plp.potawatomi.org.