Adventures in Oversharing - I took the Kiddo to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Family Reunion Festival

So, as I have mentioned before, I am a part of the Potawatomi Nation, Citizen band. Every year they hold a Family Reunion/Heritage Festival, which includes a Powwow on Saturday night.

Just a back of the envelope history - the Potawatomi are a branch of the Algonquin speaking people around the Great Lakes area. Their name means “People of the place of the fire.” They had a pretty good relation with the French settlers and government, but things went south when the English took over and later the Americans. They were first move to Iowa and Kansas, and then most of them were moved to Oklahoma. They have the name “Citizen” band because they were the first tribe to take American citizenship, in the hopes off better legal dealings (spoiler, it didn’t help.) But now they have their own land outside off Shawnee, OK, east of OKC. @Mindysan33 should be tagged here.

We got there late Friday, but had the full Saturday to see as much as we could. They have a lot of stuff for kids, like crafts and face paint and bounce houses and lots of other stuff.

So I finally got her her official Tribal card, so she now has her own ID. (Already enrolled her several years ago). We went to the Heritage Center which has a small, in progress museum. They had made huge improvements over that last time I was there, which IIRC had flooded and the stuff was in general disarray.

The two neatest things, I think, was a traditional bark house, like they would have used up north, and canoe.

These pictures are from the dance.

An elder consecrating the arena circle with I believe tobacco and sage incense.

This guy is doing a Turkey Dance. He is also head of the CPN language department and I got some cool pic of ancestors from him shown below. His Grandma was a cousin to my Grandpa.

I should have tried to get a better pic of this guy. He is doing a Chicken Dance, but not the cocka-doodle-do kind (or the wedding reception kind), but a Prairie Chicken. And in the wild they DO do a courtship dance for the females. He won the male division.

Here is what a male prairie chicken looks like, as most of you city folk have never heard of them :wink:

Not sure what this is called, but it is one of the female dancers. There were several Shawl Dancers, but I didn’t get a good pic. The Potawatomi women traditionally had shawls with long fringe adorning the edges. One would it over their arm like a blanket and do this sort of small step foot shuffle, and cause your shawl to sway back and forth as you go around the arena.

I will say the number of dancers in regalia were a bit thin this year. Last time I went they had a couple of men grass dancers, and several women in bell dresses. These look sort of like a dress from Little House on the Prairie, but covered in these conical bells. But still, great to see people in full regalia.

On Sunday we went on a tour of the CPN Eagle Aviary. There are I think 7 tribal aviaries in the us now and this one was the 4th one.

So if someone finds a hurt eagle, they can take it to the Wildlife and Parks Department and they will try to nurse it back to health. They have guidelines, though, that if the eagle can’t fly away after 6 months to put it down. These aviaries are taking in wounded eagles and letting them live out the rest of their natural life.

The first pics show a success story. Wadase Zhabwe, is a juvenile Bald Eagle whose new name means Brave Breakthrough. She came from Florida, but after 2 years she was well enough to fly and fend for herself. They did a soft release, setting food out for her, but she came back less and less and now they have seen her just once this year. But they put a tracking back pack on her, and they can see where she has been.

Here is a copy of the legend of the eagle and one of the reasons it is still considered sacred.

Here is another success story. The pic below shows the larger female, the smaller male, and the huge for his age and gender brown “baby”. Forgive me I don’t recall their names. The mom and dad can’t fly, but 4 years ago they paired up. They didn’t know what they were doing, but she laid some non-fertile eggs on the ground. The following year they made a real nest, and she laid eggs. They took them to incubate them, but it turned out they weren’t fertile either. The following year they tried again and this time they let them keep them, but they didn’t hatch, but they got them a surrogate chick to take care of and raise from another aviary (different kind of eagle).

Last year she laid two, a normal looking one and a weird, small, rounder one. They thought they were going to be duds too so just let them go through the motions again. Lo and behold the weird round one hatched on day 36. They let the parents feed and care for it (vs puppet feeding) and IIRC this is the first bald eagle born in a tribal aviary. They told some humorous stories about Wildlife and Parks and needing permit for what the eagles did on their own. One year they wanted the eggs destroyed, because they lacked a permit. They also lacked a permit for this chick, but eventually got one. Despite the Parks Departments suggestion, they plan to let the “baby” enter the wild when it is ready, as it is perfectly healthy.

Here are some of the other birds there. Some of them were quite vocal! None of them can fly for one reason or another.

This is Archer. He’s an old son of a bitch with a really messed up wing and been in captivity for 14 years, IIRC. So he is probably close to 20 years old He like to sit on the soaker hose and would dig it out if buried. I can relate to this guy.

I was able to glean some more info about our family history. I new we were part of the Navarre family (which was one of the honored families this year.) But now I know better the directly linage and even got a few pics.

Pierre Navarre Married Angelique Kisnahquah in 1820. She was the daughter of a Potawatomi chief. They would be my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents.

Here is a pic of Pierre later in life.

Here is their daughter Frances Navarre

She married John DeGraff and they had many children including Jospeph DeGraff, who married Dora Riggs shown here.

And hey, what would a Mister44 post be with out some guns. As part of an economic plan, the tribe has leased land to non tribal owned business (I think in some cases they are run by tribal members, but privately owned). So there was a pretty nice gun store and range they set up a year or so ago. They had some really neat things to rent, and a few “museum” pieces in the lobby. The one I want to show off is a Lahti L-39 20mm Anti-Tank rifle. Used by Finland during the Winter War and WWII, it was a beast. 50kg with a 51" barrel and could be broken down to be carried by a crew or pulled by a horse.

It has armor piercing 20mm rounds, and could punch through the armor of most tanks early in the war, but was made obsolete by newer tanks. It still was used to punch through fortifications, and anti-sniper tactics.


Looks like you and the kiddo had a great time! thanks for sharing, especially the mini-family history lesson.


That looks like a super good time. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy gun related things when they’re respectful of weapons and their place. Yours are that, for sure. Ideally, “nobody wants to fight, but some people have to know how”.


Thanks. I made several edits, maybe skim to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

I forget, doesn’t discourse eventually download and embed the pics linked? Hope its showing up ok.


I don’t remember, either. However, the pics look fine to me… or, they did. The second half (after the pic of the shawl dancer) now have reverted to links?


Me too… @codinghorror what did I do wrong?


Best thing I’ve seen on here in a while. That looks like a great trip and thank you for taking the time to share it with us.


The URLs might need to end with the .jpg in order to embed correctly. Assuming that the stuff after that is not some hash they use to prevent viewing off-site. Which I just tested, and seems that it is. When that happens I usually download the pic locally to my box and import it to the page from there.


Images need to end in an image extension like .jpg or .gif or .png – I suggest stripping off the other querystring cruft.


Hmm they were showing up - and I did strip some and they were still links. Ill try it again. Thanks.

ETA _ that made it worse… ill have to got put this on flikr maybe…

ETA 2 - tried to just copy and paste it again and it worked this time…


Wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing. Hope that you also wrote all this down elsewhere for your own family records.


This is fascinating! Thank you. Cute kid too!


So much life and beauty!

I think your kid is lucky.

Thank you for sharing.


Thanks, this is super cool!

I might’ve mentioned this before, but I discovered recently that I have enough ancestry to qualify for membership in the Shawnee Nation, but don’t have the census records to properly prove it. So this is a bit of a look into what I wish I could take a bit more part in!


Thanks so much for sharing this!

I think I mentioned this before, but my family is Six Nations (Grand River Mohawk, clan Turtle). It’s awesome to see your Nation on display, still going strong.

Traditional arts like barkwork (and canoecraft!) are amazing to me in their own right - so much care and precision iterated on over generations to create items literally critical to life. Great to see them on display!


Might contact the Shawnee Nation and see if there is something you can do. Tribal enrollment varies from tribe to tribe. Some of the larger ones are more selective (proven percentages) while others are more open as long as you can prove ancestry. Multiple ancestors were on past Tribal rolls (census). I now have copy too of even the original land allotment title. It probably helps that most of them stuck in the same area. But either way, you can at least learn the history. I have multiple books I have been slowly digesting.

I should have taken a pic of the inside of the canoe. They had another that was just a dug out, but the one in the pic is strips of wood layered together and sealed with a pitch or sap.


I did, and while they’re fairly open – no proven percentages – I need to prove ancestry and tribal census, and so far all I have is a letter from one ancestor to another mentioning that one of their daughters married a Native, and my DNA syncs up with the percentage that that would give me. But my dad’s a genealogist so he may still uncover some paperwork that’ll do the job.


Turtle clan represent! high five Six nations, Upper Cayugan


Wow, awesome! Small world. :smiley:


OH one thing I forgot to mention, was that there were several dances where members were invited to join in. They typically just involved moving in a tighter circle. So after the grand entry with the color guard etc, they presented people from the honored families (there are a few dozen who made the initial migration years ago, and they honor a half dozen or so every year.) Some of them were more of a follow the leader. One had you pair up boy-girl and you would separate and join back in. The Snake and Buffalo dance was at the end, where you start as a winding snake, but end as a stampeding buffalo.

You had to be properly attired, no shorts for men, no open toed shoes, women I think had to be in long skirts and have sholders covered. This was out of respect for tradition. I think they let kids slide a little.

Also, this funny thing happened.

My kid is was like:

“What’s that white thing?”

“That? It’s a head dress. I think its porcupine but I am not sure.”

“No that thing on his back.”

“That’s just silver medallions on a strip going down his back.”

“No, that other guy with the white thing on his back.”

blink blink - “That’s just a guy with a while towel in his back pocket.”

It was a guy in a black polo and black pants had a long white towel (I think it was used as a signal to wave around.) All this regalia around her and she’s focused on a guy with a white towel. She found it funny for some reason.