Week Three

PLP students take a language class at the Cultural Heritage Center.
Week Two
July 11, 2022
The PLP class of 2022 poses for a photo in front of the Oklahoma City skyline.
Week Four
July 15, 2022

June 24, 2022 – Friday

CHC Classes 

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

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

June 25, 2022 – Saturday

CHC Classes


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

General Council

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.

Getting Ready 

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

Grand Entry

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. 

June 26, 2022 – Sunday

Volleyball Tournament

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…

June 27, 2022 – Monday

Legislative Meeting 

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!

Cultural Teaching

“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

June 28, 2022 – Tuesday

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

Sweat Lodge

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

June 29, 2022 – Wednesday

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

Beading Workshop

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

June 30, 2022 – Thursday

Lots of Department Sessions

We had Accounting, Office of Environmental Health, Domestic Violence, and HR. 

Talking Circle

“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

Sign up to receive email updates about the Potawatomi Leadership Program.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



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


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: