By Joshua Sutterfield and Meghan Dorey
aya eeweemilaankiki ‘Hello our relatives,’ 174 years ago this week, the United States government began the forced removal of Myaamia people from our historic homelands in the Wabash River Valley. On October 6, 1846, Myaamia people boarded canal boats near Iihkipihsinonki ‘the Straight Place’ (Peru, Indiana). All told, in just over a month of forced travel, over 320 Myaamia people were moved via canals and rivers to Kanza Landing (Kansas City, Missouri) in the Unorganized Indian Territory. At least seven Myaamia people died on the journey, and many more died over the following winter. Two babies were also born on the nearly month-long journey. This forced removal fragmented the Miami Nation, as five family leaders retained the right to receive their treaty annuities in Indiana and thereby remained behind on individual or family reserves in the state.
As we sit under the moon of kiiyolia kiilhswa and celebrate the fall harvest, we should all take a moment and reflect on this arduous journey and remember the Myaamia people who suffered separation from their homes and their families in the fall of 1846. It is through their struggles that the Miami Nation endured on a new national land base west of the Mihsi-Siipiiwi (Mississippi River).
You may note that next October will mark 175 years since this momentous event. Beginning with Weehki-Kihkatwe ‘Lunar New Year’ the Cultural Resources Office will begin Meehkweelintamankwi Aanchsahaaciki ‘Remembering Our Forced Removal’, a year of remembrance and commemoration. Throughout the year, we will feature educational opportunities, presentations, and events. We hope that sharing knowledge about the myaamia forced removal will create understanding and healing across our community. These efforts will help us see removal, not as a singular event in time that “ended” with arrival in Kansas. But rather as a great stone cast into our communal waters with ripples that have continued to move throughout generations. The effects of removal are integral in shaping our national identity today.
One of the events included in this commemoration will be our Second Eugene Brown Memorial Art Show at the Myaamia Heritage Museum & Archive. The theme of next summer’s art show and exhibit will revolve around the removal journey and the continuing effects on our community and identity. Adherence to the theme is not required, but we hope you may take the opportunity to contemplate what removal means to you personally, and how that influences creating art today. Submitted work that ties to removal will be eligible for a special prize in the art show. Be sure to follow the Myaamia Heritage Museum & Archive Facebook page to catch all updates about this event.
Just as our ancestors undertook a journey that broke their hearts, we want to continue the healing journey throughout the next year to further bring our hearts together.If you would like to read more about Myaamia Aanchsahaaciki (the Myaamia Forced Removal), follow this link to download “A Cultural Exploration of the Myaamia Removal Route.”