BY: MICHELLE SIMON
The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Member Services department is the official hub of tribal memberships’ information.
The Member Services department is staffed by PBPN members Jamie Hopkins, Member Services Coordinator and Josette Whitlock, Member Services Clerk. Whitlock joined the department in September 2018, and Hopkins came on board in March 2019. Together they are responsible for maintaining the official records of the Nation’s enrollment, addresses and voter registration. The department also assists in tribal government elections, administers the Vision Service Plan (VSP) along with processing burial fund requests and providing membership verification.
The Nation’s membership currently stands at approximately 4,570 living members, with about 800 residing on the Reservation. To be a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, one must meet the criteria of possessing at least one-fourth (1/4) degree Prairie Band Potawatomi Indian blood as outlined in the Nation’s constitution. New members must file an application and provide all accompanying documentation to the Member Services department for verification. After the staff has completed their process, all enrollment applications and requests for blood quantum reviews are submitted to the Enrollment Review Committee for final determination. The Enrollment Review Committee meets once a month. The Member Services department does not offer assistance for genealogy however the Horton Bureau of Indian Affairs may be able to assist.
Once enrolled in the Nation, members will receive a tribal Identification card issued through the Member Services department. Minors receive a laminated paper version, while members age 18 and over are required to carry a plastic version which includes a photo. The initial plastic card is free and must be updated every 10 years. Plastic tribal I.D. cards can be replaced for a cost of $10. Plans are also currently underway to add an Enhanced Tribal I.D. card as an option for members. The enhanced tribal I.D. acts like a passport if traveling by land or sea, however, the card cannot be used as a valid passport for travel by flight. The enhanced card is expected to be available by the end of 2019.
Members of the Nation are eligible to vote in tribal government elections at the age of 18, and each member must register to vote with the Member Services department. The Member Services department assists the Election Board with the tribal council, gaming commission, and ethics commission elections.
The Member Services department maintains all members’ official mailing address. To receive all official mail sent by the PBPN government, such as Per capita payments, General Council minutes and voting ballots, it is imperative member’s keep their address up to date. Member Services does coordinate with the Per Capita office, so if a member updates their address through the Per Capita office it will be forwarded to the Member Services department.
The Member Services department also administers the VSP program and burial funds which are available to enrolled tribal members. Enrollment into the free VSP program is at each members’ discretion. To get registered for the program, PBPN members can call into the Member Service department. To learn more about the coverage and find approved providers, tribal members can visit vsp.com.
In the event of an enrolled tribal member’s death, the Nation will assist with burial costs up to $6,000. Up to $1,500 can be used toward the funeral service, with the remaining $4,500 applied to burial. The application for this service is located in the Member Only portal found on the Nation’s website, www.pbpindiantribe.com, or the Member Services department can be contacted toll-free at 877-715-6789 and they can fax the application to the funeral home.
The Member Services department is located at the PBPN Government Center – Lower Level, 16281 Q Road, Mayetta, Kansas.