Video: Commencement speaker Georgie ‘Dolly’ Potts uses her storytelling gift to inspire the 2020 Fall/Winter UW-Green Bay graduating class

Note: Georgie “Dolly” Potts was selected from a number of nominations to be this semester’s Commencement Speaker. As COVID-19 postponed the University’s plans to celebrate with the Fall/ Winter 2020 graduates until Spring 2021, Potts’ speech was recorded and is released today, Fall/Winter Commencement Day, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. See her biography.

Video Transcript

Bear Story

Ani, Nazwin nadisnaquas Mishodanikwe-Prairie Band, Totem Kikos.

Hello, my name is Dolly Potts, I introduced myself in my language (Potawatomi). I have been named Student Speaker for the 2020 Fall/Winter graduates. This is quite an honor, for those who do know me, know that I am a storyteller. I am sharing with you a story that I believe will carry with you into your future:

Eagle Clan decided one day to host a lodge. Eagle built an enormous lodge. Plenty of space for all the clans to comfortably sit. Eagle placed cedar boughs along the sides of the lodge for the clans to sit. The smell of cedar filled the air. After completing the lodge Eagle went out into the forest to invite all of the animal clans to his lodge.

On the day of the lodge all the animal clans entered the lodge. Coyote was first in as they would be the clan at the door. Coyote would announce all the other clans. Being Coyote they entered the lodge yipping and yapping nodding to Eagle clan. Sniffing the air, they could not help but smell the cooking fires nearby.

Fish Clan was next quiet and serene. Looking sternly at Coyote clan immediately quieting them with calming nature. Fish Clan reverently sat down in their places.

Hoof Clan was next, they danced into the lodge gracefully. Their wide eyes open and ears perked for any noise to alert the others to. They nodded to Eagle Clan with their long necks.

Bear Clan was last to enter. Huffing and puffing with massive breaths all the other clans scooted a little closer to the lodge wall giving Bear Clan all the space they needed. Bear Clan sat down on the soft cedar boughs and stared at Eagle Clan to begin.

Each clan representative gave Eagle clan a report on their responsibility in the forest. Coyote reported all of the sounds mentioning if any were different or unusual. Fish Clan talked about the waters of the forest how much or how little there was. Hoof Clan talked about the sights and sounds of the forest. If they had seen or heard anything to report to all of the clans.

Bear Clan was last. Bear stood and all of the animal clans fell silent. Bear stood to his massive height from his cedar bough seat. In a voice rumbling from deep in his chest. Bear told the animal clan that he was the leader of all the clans. There was no one stronger than Bear and he had no enemies who could defeat Bear.

All the clans looked up at Bear nodding in agreement. Yet Bear added if there is danger in the forest, come to me and I will protect you. For his testimony all the animal clans loved and respected Bear.

What a great feast it was. Coyote munched noisily on his chicken soup at dinnertime. Hoof Clan savored their maple sugar. Bear Clan gulped and chomped on the most delicious berries. Eagle looked at all of the clans satisfied for they had hosted a good lodge. All the animal clans were happy and safe in the forest.

My story is a story of Power, as we go into our future many of you will have Power. Our college education will afford us positions that are supervisory or as directors. It may lead us down other paths too, like more Education or building our families and communities.

As we go into the world, go in as the Bear—strong, respected, and caring. Be proud as testimony to the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay. Meet your future in a good way.

Thank you.