Since Harvard's Honoring Nations
program began recognizing excellence in Indian Country in 1999,
the Citizen Potawatomi Nation has been awarded four times for its
progress. The work of the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development
Corporation was recognized in 2006, and in 2010 the Tribe's constitutional
reforms received honors. In 2013, the Tribe gained additional accolades
for its constitutional reform project as one of three of All-Stars.
Most recently in October 2014, the Potawatomi Leadership Program,
a six week internship program for college age Tribal members, was
one of three to receive the High Honors award at the National Congress
of the American Indian Annual Convention.
PLP alum Miranda Hazelton, the program's representative at NCAI,
gave a stirring speech describing the importance of the Potawatomi
Leadership Program in her own life.
was very honored when I was asked to give the speech," said
Hazelton. "After hearing about the other honorees' projects,
I was honored to be just sitting next to them. One of the (Honoring
Nations) board members said my speech really described exactly why
the PLP was chosen, and that my words represented the native youth
across the U.S. who are also disconnected from their tribes. This
was so amazing to be a part of. I'm really grateful I was given
an opportunity to express my feelings about PLP."
On hand to receive the award was Chairman John Barrett and Hazelton.
Also in attendance were CPN legislators Bob Whistler and David Barrett,
PLP House mother Margaret Zientek and PLP Advisor Tesia Zientek.
Chairman of the Honoring Nations Board of Governors Chief Oren
Lyons commented that "The 2014 Honoring Nations awardees look down
the long road and don't get lost in the demands of the moment. They
are about our future, and the children coming, and the responsibilities
of all leaders to their nations."
A member of the inaugural 2003 class, Noelle Albano, was also
in attendance at NCAI. The Toupin-family descendent echoed the sentiments
of many PLP participants in terms of the program's ability to foster
closer connection to the Potawatomi tribe in Oklahoma and its members
from across the country. Albano also extrapolated on what the program's
impact has been on her as she looks back more than a decade when
she was a PLP participant.
"When I was in the PLP, I understood the program was awesome.
But I couldn't have imagined the far reaching impacts of the PLP
program. Now I get it. Having a program like the PLP is absolutely
essential for long term growth of a tribe. If you look back on any
civilization, those that have stood the test of time have passed
knowledge and cultural heritage from one generation to the next
and adapted to change, in spite of great adversity," Albano said.
The High Honors award from Harvard's Honoring Nations Program
is the top distinction handed out by the program each year. The
award winners will also have a place in an exhibit at the Smithsonian's
National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. and
a web platform through Google Cultural Institutes.
CPN is well-represented at the Smithsonian, with the Tribe's
2007 constitutional reform project currently part of this year's
Harvard Honoring Nations exhibit. CPN artist and photographer Sharon
Hoogstraten's work is also prominently featured in the Potawatomi
tribe's "Nation to Nation" exhibit, also on display at the Smithsonian.
Roselius, a 2011 PLP class member, has served as a counselor
for the program in recent years. The
University of Oklahoma microbiology student gave his take on
the program, both as a former participant and as a leader.
"The granting of this award to the Nation really reiterates
how vitally important the PLP is in carrying out one of the most
important duties of tribal communities in grooming motivated, passionate
leaders that will lead their people into the next generation," he
said. "It has been an absolute pleasure serving as counselor for
these past few years, and it makes that time even more memorable
knowing that such a prestigious committee believes in the mission
of the PLP, as we have all along."
As the Potawatomi Leadership Program prepares to welcome its
twelfth class in the summer of 2015, its impact on past participants
was best summed up by Hazelton's speech.
"I have gained confidence in who I am and what I want, and am
no longer afraid to express my opinions. I have gained new skills
that allow me to be more independent from my parents. I have taken
the first step towards adulthood, and the future doesn't look so
scary anymore," said Hazelton.
For more information about the Potawatomi Leadership Program,
please visit plp.potawatomi.org.
The six-week Potawatomi Leadership Program brings a group of 8-10
promising young tribal members from around the world to Shawnee,
Oklahoma to learn about the government, culture, and economic development
of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. At its core, the Potawatomi Leadership
Program strives to give interns an accurate perception of the Citizen
Potawatomi Nation as a whole and cultivate talent from within to
ensure that younger generations are prepared for a role in the future
governance of their tribe.
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
The Harvard Project aims to understand and foster the conditions
under which sustained, self-determined social and economic development
is achieved among American Indian nations through applied research