During the first session of the project, held July 22, traditional artisan Frank Ettawageshik demonstrates traditional clay pottery techniques to Tribal youth Ron Woodring, 15.
FULTON, MICHIGAN – The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi recently received a $20,000 grant from the First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado through its Native Youth and Culture Fund to support the efforts of the NHBP Mno Bmadzewen Youth Project. The focus of this project is to revitalize and preserve time-honored traditions among NHBP Tribal youth and descendants between the ages of 9 and 18.
The project will establish a series of sessions to share activities that were traditionally a way of life among Potawatomi people. The goal is to preserve these cultural teachings and traditions, helping to ensure that time-honored traditions will not be lost. Sessions include:
1. Spring – black ash basket making
2. Summer – traditional clay pottery, lacrosse, cattail mat making
3. Fall – wild rice harvesting
4. Winter – snowsnake making and maple sugaring
Each session will feature a Tribal elder, who is also a master artisan, who will share their traditional skills and knowledge with the Tribal youth. Participants will also learn to document their experiences through audio, film and in writing.
One of the major goals of the project is to foster interaction between Tribal elders and youth. “The Mno Bmadzewen (leading a good life) Youth Project is a positive step in teaching and preserving the culture of the Potawatomi people,” said NHBP CEO Travis Parashonts. “It brings the elders together with our youth in teaching the profound way of respect for the old ways in the form of traditional art, stories, and seasons and produces a positive balance and pride into lives of the youth and the community. This is very valuable and positive especially where culture and tradition are being diluted, and in some instances decayed, by the conventional life we live in today.”
NHBP’s Membership Services Department (Tribal Youth Program), Environmental Department and Cultural and Historic Preservation Office are collaborating to conduct this project. Additional partnerships will be developed within the Tribal community and the broader non-Native community to promote and ensure the success of the program.