We helped out with classes at the Cultural Heritage Center during the first day of the Family Reunion Festival. We helped Tribal citizens who traveled from all over make drums, flat stitch earrings, corn husk dolls, moccasins, and more.
“My experience with drum making was really fun. I didn’t know how to do it at first but I got a hang of it, and I helped a woman with arthritis make a drum. We had left over materials and the leader of the class allowed me to finish a drum and it was epic!” – Chloe Williams
Hand Games are an annual event where two players from a team hide beads in one of their hands and a player from the other team guesses which hand the bead is in. It is a game of deception and a fun game where people can dance around. People bet and buy teams before the games start and the winners split the pot between themselves and the owner. This year we competed as a team and actually won!
“Playing Hand Games is my favorite memory. We are all very different people, but we all had the same goal. There are definitely people we gravitate to normally, but it didn’t matter in that instance. Jaden came out of his shell.” – Anna Korzeniewski
Traditionally men drum together on the big drums and women gather around and sing to provide protection. Normally, there will only be one drum from another tribe who provides the music for the powwow. This year we also had a Potawatomi drum and the PLP men were able to participate. They practiced each day after department sessions to prepare for Hand Games and Grand Entry.
“In practice, I really liked being able to chime in when I felt comfortable, and that there wasn’t any shame in not doing that during Festival. At the Festival itself, drumming was simple, we just needed to focus more and more on keeping the beat and energy in the right place. It was really good, and I am looking forward to further practicing at home!” – David Harty
We were able to go to the General Council Meeting and hear what is currently going on in the tribe from the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, and their plans for what is coming next.
We quickly had to get in our regalia for Grand Entry. Men traditionally wear ribbon shirts and women wear a blouse and skirt. This gave us a chance to wear our moccasins for the first time. The girls spent a long time braiding and putting ribbons in their hair. While it is great if you can have traditional regalia, not everyone is able to. The most important thing for Grand Entry is to be respectful. Women should wear long skirts, everyone should wear closed toe shoes, and be modest.
“Festival is my favorite part of the program so far. Getting to dance with the PLP and get ready with everyone, I had so much fun getting into regalia. Getting to see my family halfway through the program was really nice and being able to tell them everything that I’ve been learning and introducing them to fellow PLP.” – Tessa Arenz
At Grand Entry, we were introduced as PLP and then able to dance together. We even got some of our family to dance with us. We were also able to watch the competitive dancers. Many of us had never been to the Family Reunion Festival and did not know what to expect at a powwow. It is really easy to follow the flow, and everything is announced by the MC so there is no confusion.
“Festival was really wonderful. I had never been before so some aspects really surprised me. It was really cool to walk in Grand Entry, and was a really unique experience. It was really interesting to see the competitive dancing and see what the judges were looking for.” – Catherine Charnoky
iHop Trip Post Powwow
We were all starving after a long day so our late night iHop run gave us a chance to relax and chat with some former PLP who were in town.
Throughout Festival weekend there are many tournaments and games that people can participate in and earn prizes. We competed in a volleyball tournament, and let’s just say we were much better at Hand Games…
The Tribe has 13 legislators that represent 13 districts around the nation. These legislators are elected by the members in each of their districts. The legislators from all over the country meet every Monday after Festival weekend, and we were able to sit in and watch them discuss and vote on their agenda.
Gotta look sharp!
“The extinction effort really spoke to me. I’ve written papers about the internment camps and ‘boarding schools’ Native Americans were sent to, but it makes it all too real when I hear about what my ancestors went through and had to survive. This I feel also connects to the near extinction of the bald eagle, encroachment of territory and foreign disease greatly affecting Native Americans and more recently bald eagles.” – Jaden Tarter
Workforce and Social Services
“I knew that the tribe offered educational scholarships but I didn’t know these were services and scholarships offered by other departments. I thought that this department had a lot of really cool and helpful services that are very beneficial for those living in Oklahoma and also some for those living out of state.” – Anna Korzeniewski
“The Education department is in place to help tribal members with their future goals, as well as teaching schools about Potawatomi culture and history. This department is working on a curriculum to teach people about the Trail of Death so that they understand what our ancestors went through and respect our culture and perseverance. They also follow the Seven Grandfather teachings which are the standards that PLP and our tribe as a whole follow. One of the major goals of the education department is to remove obstacles so that Tribal members can find the right path for them and be educated voters and future tribal leaders. Every way that a person involves themselves is essential for keeping the tribe going, and the more educated people are the better they can make decisions for the future. Many of the goals of CPN revolve around improving our nation for the next 7 generations.” – Sophia Carney
We had been learning about sweat lodges during Cultural Teachings, but it is something that you need to experience to really understand. We learned about the Seven Grandfathers and the ceremonies that occur during the sweat prior, but there is no way to prepare for the physical aspect other than doing it.
“The Sweat Lodge pushed me and challenged my body and mind. I had to persevere through it but I thought it was a really cool prayer experience, getting to pray with other PLP and offering up the suffering. I’ve also never been so hot or sweat so much in my entire life, but it felt so good when we got hosed off after. It was a great feeling.” – Tessa Arenz
Childhood Development Center
“This session helped me understand how CPN helps its members holistically and provides high quality services. It also helped me realize how important it is for CPN to decide how to run all their programs because before it was completely run by the federal government. Additionally, considering the history of boarding schools having schools managed and run by CPN members is a part of self governance. This session connects to the workforce and social services department because both departments collaborate to provide the mentioned services. This session also connects to the education session because this is how the tribe educates younger children. And this session connects to the language department session because language classes are offered a few times a week at the center.” – Catherine Charnoky
In this workshop, we did flat stitch beading. Many of us made earrings or broaches, and some of us have continued to practice our stitching to make other things.
“The beading workshop had to be my favorite as it required the most concentration.” – Tristin Stites
“I really enjoyed the beading workshop. Before I came here I wanted to learn how to bead. I made some earrings for my mom and I am going to teach her how to bead.” – Chloe Williams
Lots of Department Sessions
We had Accounting, Office of Environmental Health, Domestic Violence, and HR.
“I think that Talking Circles are a good opportunity for people to say what’s on their mind and be open and vulnerable with other PLP. It provides a space for people to express themselves and share which I think is really beautiful.” – Tessa Arenz