CPN Cultural Heritage Center Receives National and National Industry Awards

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center was recognized as one of the Top 10 Model Museums / Cultural Centers by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums in 2020. The CHC has also won numerous awards from the Oklahoma Museum Association in 2021 in addition to the national honor. .

“I am very honored when we receive awards like these because we try to be innovative,” said Dr Kelli Mosteller, director of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center. “We try to always think about what the tribal citizen wants to see first and foremost, and then we think about reverse engineering how to get there. When we are recognized at the state or national level for the way we have chosen to do it, I always feel very humbled.

ATALM Top 10

The responsibility of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums includes the preservation and promotion of indigenous languages, history, culture and ways of life. A national review committee selected the heritage center for the organization’s most prestigious award in 2020. As part of the recognition, the CHC serves as a case study and inspiration for other Indigenous and tribal communities seeking to build impactful museums and cultural centers.

“It’s definitely a feather in our hat for all of us at the Cultural Heritage Center,” said Dr Mosteller. “It recognizes that we are raising the bar – we are an example of what a lot of tribes want and are functionally able to achieve. So I was delighted when they chose us.

CHC will work with ATALM to help others establish and develop their museums or heritage centers by providing training and hands-on experience. Much of this will draw on the behind-the-scenes work of CHC, including cataloging, secure storage, decision-making, and gallery and exhibition design. While initial plans called for collaboration throughout the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed CHC’s ability to share its best practices.

“It’s for people to come out and see on the pitch how it can be done,” she said. “We’re pretty confident that even though years from now they’ll be ready to send people and look at how tribal museums can and should be managed, we can partner in that capacity.”


The CHC received three awards at the Oklahoma Museum Association conference in 2021, including a promotional piece, exhibit, and special projects.

“The awards program honors the excellence and quality of projects carried out by members of the OMA as well as by dedicated individuals whose contributions have a positive impact on Oklahoma museums and the museum profession,” according to the ‘OMA.

In the spring of 2021, CHC released its brand new website created and implemented by hardworking employees from across the country. The OMA recognized potawatomiheritage.com for its promotional award.

“The website was definitely a labor of love for several years,” said Dr. Mosteller. “To see the website being rewarded not only by its incredible use by Tribal members but also by an association like OMA that we really respect is really nice to see that. “

CHC staff have spent years digitizing archives, information, documents, videos and more to create a user-friendly educational resource that connects CPN tribal members and the public to the nation and its history. Users can take a virtual tour of the CHC galleries, search the encyclopedia, digital archives and manuscripts, as well as learn about the heritage of the Potawatomi family, create family trees and interact with relatives through the ‘intermediary of ancestors and more.

“All the resources are there with one drop-down menu – one click. You can see years and years of work dealing with the vast collections that we have here,” said Dr. Mosteller.

The Potawatomi have a long tradition of service, and Wédase: The Stronghearted Gallery and Exhibits highlight the stories of what it means to be a Wédase Potawatomi (warrior). For this reason, the OMA recognized him for its 2021 exhibition award.

“Wédasé illustrates that the military – the warriors – are a special group of people who have a long tradition of protecting what is important to their communities,” said Blake Norton, Conservative. “From the defense against occupying tribes and colonization in the past, to the fight against global terrorism today, our army has always sacrificed itself for the good of the people. The importance of our wédase and the pride that comes with this title are still very much alive today.

The display cases in the Heritage Center’s Long Room feature uniforms, memorabilia and personal items donated by CPN veterans.

“The development included diligent research, writing and design by staff, but more importantly, open communication with tribal veterans and their families to understand the real experiences of our military,” he said. “Wédasé aims to honor our veterans and warriors, while raising awareness of the importance of these individuals on the tribal, national and global stage. Our veterans community has been very supportive of our efforts for the memorial.

Each Potawatomi citizen received an award within the nation’s original 900 square mile reserve in present-day Oklahoma in 1872 or 1887. The searchable interactive award map, available in person and online, provides details on the grants. tribal members, plots and cemetery information. and won the OMA Special Projects Award.

“To be able to go back and frame this snapshot of our history on how we transitioned here and what that space was like when it was just the Potawatomi and the Absentee Shawnee, I think it’s really important, “said Dr Mosteller. . “We’ve done a lot of work to separate the original card, assign the beneficiary to it, find pictures of them, find out where they’re buried – it’s a good place to start if you don’t know much about it. your family history. “

The map provides information about each location as well as a QR code that connects directly to the smartphone’s navigation by simply using the camera to scan the code.

“Being able to see the original attribution of your family and where they made their home, it connects family history and stories to the tangible,” she said.

While Dr Mosteller is grateful for the recent recognition, she pointed out that the hardworking staff and collaboration with departments across the country made the accomplishments possible.

“They come day after day with their noses on the grindstone and do it,” Dr. Mosteller said. “We have a fraction of the staff that a lot of institutions broadcast the type of content that we broadcast. What our staff do every day matters. For example, it’s not just about scanning a document, it’s about connecting it and securing that part of history with the tribe today and for generations to come. “

Learn more about the Cultural Heritage Center awards at potawatomiheritage.com.

About Thomas Thorton

Check Also

Hiring underway in Illinois to launch National Mental Health Helpline next month – NBC Chicago

The idea behind 988 Mental Health Lifeline is simple. “It shouldn’t be that hard to …