Officials from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation welcomed the French ambassador and other French dignitaries to the United States during a visit to Shawnee, Oklahoma. It was the first visit by a French ambassador to Oklahoma.
French Ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne visited CPN headquarters on April 18, 2022. Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett and Vice-Chairman Linda Capps welcomed the group. The delegation included the ambassador’s wife, Patricia Etienne, Consul General of France Valerie Baraban, Cultural Attache Bettina Gardelles and Honorary Consul Grant Moak.
The French delegation toured CPN’s Cultural Heritage Center and Iron Horse Industrial Park. Etienne wanted to visit CPN because of the historical connections between the Potawatomi and France.
French explorer Jean Nicolet made the initial European contact with the Potawatomi in 1634 near present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin, according to the CHC website. As the fur trade grew, the Potawatomi and French often worked together to hunt, form relationships with other tribes and gain influence around the Great Lakes. This trade led to intermarriage and the formation of many of the Potawatomi families of today. Of the 49 CPN founding families, 37 have French surnames.
Also representing CPN were Director of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Jim Collard, Administrative Research Analyst Vedrana Milakovic, Administrative Assistant Courtney Palmer, Iron Horse Transload Manager Randy Story, Director of Education Tesia Zientek, Chief Financial Officer Mary Chisholm, Chief Information Officer Christopher Abel, Tribal Attorney Gregory Quinlan, and Community Development Corporation Commercial Loan Officer Robert Crothers.