63rd Annual Native American Church of North America Conference This Weekend

june 13, 2012 –

MAYETTA:  This weekend through a generous donation by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, the Brown County Chapter of the Native American Church in Kansas, Inc. is sponsoring the 63rd Annual Native American Church of North America Conference.

The conference gets underway Friday morning at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort and will run through Sunday with some activities being held at Prairie Peoples Park. For details about the event please contact Laverne Haag at 785.840.7074 or email  For flyer information click here.

Another event organizer, Jeanette “Green” Little Sun, who is with the Brown County Chapter, submitted the following information to the News that offers some history about how some of the Prairie Band people became involved with the Native American church.


An Exchange of Drums Story

By:  Jeanette “Green” Little Sun

There are several accounts of how and when the Prairie Band Potawatomi began to use peyote. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the Otoe and Iowa tribes have been mentioned in some of these reports.   I remember and am writing the story that  I was told by my father,  Orlando Green “Mazshe” and have consulted with Aaron “Louie” Aitkens, the grand-son of William Wahzowkouck Jr. “Jack Forty”, the son of William Wahzowkouck  Sr, “Bill  Waza”.

In 1908 Bill Waza was  about 16 years old when he accompanied the elders of the tribe on a walk to Oklahoma to visit the Sac & Fox people. It was Bill’s job to carry  the “Big Drum” which was to be given to them. The Sac & Fox were grateful to receive the drum and included with the bundles of gifts were train tickets for the Potawatomi delegation to return to Kansas. When it was time to leave Bill Waza was nowhere to be found and so was left behind. He stayed with the Butlers, a well known Sac & Fox family for many or several years.  During his stay he was introduced to the medicine, learned their songs and ways of this ceremony.  He was also good help to the Butler family.

Bill became lonesome for his relatives and told the family of his plan to go back home. He was asked to stay until they had a peyote meeting for him. After this meeting, he was given the medicine, peyote,  sage, a  staff, an eagle feather,  cedar, a gourd and a drum.  He was told they were not giving him their fireplace because the Potawatomi had their own.  After sharing his experience with his family it was decided to ask  the tribal leaders for their permission  to use the ceremonial  flint fire in the tipi.  They were given permission.

My memories of a peyote meeting now called Native American Church among the PBP starts at sunrise on the designated day of the meeting. It begins with starting of the for-the-spirit supper.  When the supper is over, coals are carried into the tipi and the all night peyote ceremony begins.

This is how I have witnessed the use of peyote and the worship of our Creator in Native American Church among the Prairie Band Potawatomi.  I heard the expression, “God has His ways” because, as it turned out, it was an exchange of drums, the Big Drum for the Little Drum between the Sac & Fox and the Prairie Band Potawatomi.