Heath Steward



You must meet all of the following eligibility criteria to be considered for the Potawatomi Leadership Program:


Program participants are selected without regard to race, color, religious creed, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. Although the only restrictions for applying are meeting the eligibility criteria listed above, please consider whether you are comfortable meeting program conditions with or without any special accommodations. The conditions of this program include but are not limited to the following:



Tribal members who are 18-20 years old are selected for the six-week program based on academic qualifications, a series of essays, and a letter of recommendation. Arriving before the annual Family Reunion Festival, students spend their workdays visiting tribal directors and hearing employees explain their role. Between departmental sessions, students tour tribal enterprises and attend board meetings. In the evenings and on weekends, students connect culturally by attending language classes, participating in tribal ceremonies, and learning traditional crafts. Additionally, students who have not yet received a Potawatomi name will have the opportunity to do so. By the end of the program, the students have gained a comprehensive knowledge of individual tribal components as well as how they fit into the larger puzzle of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

As potential leaders of the tribe, students not only learn how the Tribe operates but also undergo extensive leadership training. Students begin the summer by taking an assessment to discover their individual strengths, and recurring workshops help them understand how best to develop those skills. Weekly talking circles offer a space to process their experience and tackle complex issues such as the intricacies of cultural identity, the qualities of effective leadership, and the promotion of tribal engagement. Additionally, Citizen Potawatomi Nation government officials such as the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and legislators share their unique perspectives on tribal leadership with the students.

Besides attending scheduled events and sessions, Potawatomi Leadership Program participants will be expected to write three short papers. At the end of the program, students leave their own mark on the Tribe by applying this abstract knowledge to a practical project, for which they design a creative way to tangibly enhance, develop, or add to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In a final program presentation, students have the opportunity to share their final reflections and completed projects with tribal leadership. (Check out the final presentations here.)

Together, these components make up the Potawatomi Leadership Program. Students leave the program equipped with the knowledge and tools to remain engaged in the Tribe. For some, the experience will serve as preparation for future tribal governance, which strengthens the hope that the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s sound leadership will continue into future generations.



The Citizen Potawatomi Nation covers the cost of round-trip travel for all program participants. Depending on where the student will be coming from, this will mean either airfare or mileage reimbursement.
Dennette Summerlin will work with the students to schedule all travel.



Participants receive a weekly scholarship of $60 as well as a $1,680 scholarship upon completion of the program.

Local Transportation


When at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, local transportation will be provided. This includes all scheduled sessions and events. As a group, students may choose to seek other entertainment options such as the movies or bowling, and transportation to and from those activities will be provided when possible. However, students will not be able to bring their own vehicles to the program for any reason.



The Citizen Potawatomi Nation boasts a full-service grocery store near the students’ living quarters, FireLake Discount Foods. Groceries for all meals will be furnished at FireLake and covered by the Tribe. Students will shop as a group for these groceries. On most evenings, students will work together to plan and prepare meals for the entire group in the Sharp House kitchen. However, should students choose to eat out at restaurants – they will be responsible for these outside costs.



During the six weeks, program participants stay together in “The Sharp House,” a spacious property owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Students will share rooms and bathrooms based on gender.
The Sharp House boasts a number of amenities, which include two large-screen televisions, a pool table, and an outdoor pool.



All accepted students will be required to create a medical file with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Clinic. As tribal members, the students can visit this clinic and
receive medical attention at no cost to them if any medical issues should arise during their stay.

Professional Development

Due to the uncertainty and health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Potawatomi Leadership Program (PLP) will be held virtually. Accepted students must commit to at least three virtual evening sessions per week, which will feature cultural teachings from Cultural Heritage Center Director Dr. Kelli Mosteller, panel sessions from tribal leaders and program directors, and talking circles with their fellow PLP students. Students will be expected to complete some reading and writing assignments between sessions. To support cultural growth, students will also receive materials for some traditional art and craft classes. Upon completion of all sessions, students will receive an $1,800 scholarship. Failure to attend sessions will reduce the participant's final scholarship. The program will take place from Sunday, June 13 – Friday, July 23, 2021.

In light of the virtual format, some of the program's eligibility requirements have been expanded for this year only. To be eligible, students must be aged 18-21, demonstrate at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA), have graduated high school by the program's start date, and be enrolled in college or vocational school at any level.

The online PLP application will open on Monday, February 8 at 8:00 a.m. Central Time and close on Wednesday, March 10 at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. Please direct any questions to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Department of Education at college@potawatomi.org or 405-695-6028.