Two-Day Language Conference Boasts More Than 500 Participants

Written by Katie Halloran | Photos by NHBP Tribal Member and Photographer Johnathon Moulds

In our Ancestors’ tradition, we gathered from all walks of life during the 2023 Gathering of Potawatomi Nations, hosted by NHBP in July of 2023, to celebrate, revitalize and pass on our traditions, language and Culture in meaningful and significant ways.

This annual event is steeped in tradition. 2023 marks the fourth time NHBP has hosted the Annual Gathering. Each year it provides an opportunity for us to come together and celebrate our Potawatomi heritage. It was indeed an honor for us to host this year’s event.

Kicking off this year’s Gathering was a two-day language conference, where more than a dozen breakout sessions, rounded out by panel presentations, provided the 2023 Gathering of Potawatomi Nations attendees with the opportunity to advance – or even begin – their personal Bodéwadmimwen {Potawatomi Language} journey.

By holding the smaller breakout sessions specially geared toward those who were new to learning the language or for those who were more interested in learning the grammar, the Language Conference had something for each of the 500 participants.

The specially designed Youth Track saw more than 50 participants on the second day, where the youth played interactive games like ShiShiBé {Bingo, or literally duck} and bean bag toss to learn animal names, colors, numbers and body parts.

“During my first Potawatomi Gathering 23 years ago, there wasn’t even a language component included, and now it’s just a given,” said Lindsay Marean (Zhawnokwé), Citizen Potawatomi Nation. “All of our Tribes are working as a collaborative, and we are taking responsibility to move our language forward.”

“In only 20 years’ time, our kids now have safe spaces to speak Potawatomi,” said Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Director of Language Rhonda Purcell during the first day’s panel discussion. “If I asked our kids 20 years ago, they didn’t know ‘Bozho’ or ‘Migwéch.’ We have changed that.”

Not only were attendees learning the appropriate pronunciations and spellings, but the experts from throughout the Potawatomi Nations also led participants through grammar lessons and a Medicine and Harvesting breakout session.

Our culture is not just history; it is a living, breathing entity that evolves with each of us who carries its legacy forward. As we reflect on the 2023 Potawatomi Gathering, let us celebrate the connections we forged, the skills we learned, and the commitment we hold to keeping our traditions thriving.

For those who wish to continue advancing their skills, free online learning resources are available: https://www.potawatomiheritage.com/language/
https://matchgame.potawatomiheritage.com/

To read the Special Edition Gathering Turtle Press click HERE.

View the 2023 Gathering of Potawatomi Nations photo gallery HERE.


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