Serving the nation for more than 35 years, Tribal Chairman John Barrett has helped grow the nation’s assets from $550 to a tribe with an annual economic impact of more than $700 million.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman John Rocky Barrett recently received three national awards for his more than 35 years serving the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Now serving his 10th term, Barrett has helped grow the nation from assets totaling $550 with less than three acres of land to a tribe with an annual economic impact of more than $700 million. Barrett recently received three different awards from various entities for his work to grow the tribe’s sovereignty.
The Sovereignty Symposium
The Sovereignty Symposium recently recognized Chairman Barrett for his work to bolster the tribe’s ability to govern itself.
Chairman Barrett led CPN through a significant constitutional reform effort in the 1980s, making it possible for the tribe to expand its economy and invest in cultural priorities. Additionally, Barrett fostered a collaborative initiative with the City of Shawnee to work together as two functioning bodies.
“Chairman’s been a very good neighbor to Shawnee, and they’ve done lots of good things for Shawnee over the years, whether it’s helping with the (community) pool or other projects,” said Shawnee Mayor Ed Bolt. “We include each other in conversations that probably didn’t happen for a lot of years. It’s going to make things much easier for everyone going forward, and that’s going to benefit everyone.”
American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma
The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma recently presented Chairman Barrett with the President’s Legacy of Servant Leadership Award.
“This honor is reflective of the commitment shown by Chairman Barrett and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation to the American Indian Chamber’s mission of building a stronger American Indian business community,” said Bailey Walker, AICCO State Board President. “CPN has consistently supported these efforts and makes a difference in AICCO’s ability to help Native business companies connect with opportunities and to flourish even in trying times.”
During Chairman Barrett’s tenure, the tribe founded the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation in 2003. The community development financial institution offers Native-owned enterprises the opportunity to increase their business knowledge and obtain loans to establish and grow their companies. CPN also owns the largest tribally owned bank in the United States, First National Bank & Trust Co.
Chairman Barrett is also the founder of the National Indian Action Contractor Association and was a guest lecturer for the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. During his leadership, CPN has become the largest employer in Pottawatomie County and exceeded an annual economic impact of $729 million.
International Economic Development Council
The International Economic Development Council recently honored Chairman Barrett with its 2022 Leadership Award for Public Service.
“When domination of tribal affairs by outside (especially federal) authorities was fostering economic lethargy and dependence, Chairman Barrett led the effort to have the nation take over all of its economic and public service operations,” said Joseph P. Kalt, co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
The IEDC highlighted a few of his achievements, including CPN acting as one of the first tribes to sign the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership Act with the federal government, the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation’s prioritization of women-owned businesses, and the nation’s adopted resolution to distribute federal pandemic funds to tribal members economically affected by COVID.
“It is nice to be honored by groups doing such good work for the people of Oklahoma and especially for our Tribes,” Barrett said. “But the work I do is not for myself; it is to benefit the members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, our neighbors in Shawnee and our fellow Oklahomans.”