2024 Candidates for Council Position #3


Raphael Wahwassuck

Always do what you can for the betterment of the people.
This lesson from my childhood is part of the foundation of who I am and how I approach my life today. I believe that it’s possible to compromise to achieve goals for all our people, so long as you know the principles that can never be compromised; and so long as we’re willing to listen to each other.

I continue to carry this lesson with me as a representative for our people. Throughout my tenure serving as a member of our Tribal Council, I rely on this teaching as a guide through many difficult decisions, like

  • facing the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic and making the decision to temporarily suspend our casino operation to protect our people,
  • deciding to challenge the US Treasury regarding their inaccurate information about our membership numbers
  • in interactions with Federal representatives upholding our Treaties,
    voting with other leaders of our Potawatomi Nations to unite under confederacy.

I feel fortunate that I have been able to directly affect our Nation’s future and preserve our
past during my time in office.

I am a contributing member of the Kansas Advisory Council for Indigenous Education – which advises the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas Board of Regents on materials and resources that support teaching historically accurate curriculum to all students in the State of Kansas. This effort has resulted in building relationships and making institutional connections statewide, tuition considerations for all Tribal Nations with current and historical ties to Kansas and starting the essential understandings work for Indigenous Education within the state.

Formalizing our Tribal Historic Preservation Office: This office focuses on preservation efforts of Tribal historic properties and cultural traditions. We ensure we are available to advise federal, state and local agencies on the management of Tribal historic properties and instruct municipalities on Section 106 reviews to represent tribal interests.
Repatriation work is also an important facet of this office, working to establish a collaborative relationship amongst all Potawatomi Nations to care for the ancestors that currently sit in museums, universities, government agencies, residential basements, and other random storage places across the country. The passage of the Human Remains Protection Act in 2023 has been a huge win for our People, as it prompted delayed returns of our ancestral remains back to our people. This law compels the state of Illinois to follow our lead through the repatriation process. Since the passage, we have returned numerous ancestors and laid them to rest, with the support and assistance of our Elders and Veterans.

These are a small subset of the projects that I have had the honor of working on for the benefit of our people. I do not do any of this work on my own, I have been fortunate to facilitate and participate on many working groups with like-minded individuals with shared visions of progressing these types of projects.

My name is Raphael Wahwassuck. I am a candidate seeking reelection for Tribal Council seat #3. I am honored to say that I have lived most of my life here on our reservation. Many years of my life have been devoted to identifying, learning, and implementing holistic methods to contribute to the wellness of our Nïshnabeyēk. It is truly an honor to serve our people in the capacity of elected representative, I graciously request your continued support.