In this year, the 175th anniversary of the removal of the Miami Tribe from our homelands, the Myaamia community is coming together to remember this history as a way to connect to our ancestors, to keep them close to us, and to maintain our relationship with them and their past. However, this is not solely Myaamia history. It is also American history and it connects to many people and institutions outside of the Miami Tribe.
As we started our commemorations this year, we made our partners at Miami University aware of the anniversary, and they also wanted to do something to commemorate this shared history. The creation of Miami University cannot be separated from Myaamia history. The university was founded only 14 years after the land in what would become Oxford, Ohio was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Greenville. Miami University was within our homelands and educating students even as we continued to cede more of our homelands and eventually conceded to be removed west of the Mississippi. Even the removal journey is linked to Miami–the canal boats carrying Myaamia people from our homelands passed very nearby, likely as classes were in session.
In order to acknowledge this shared history and commemorate this anniversary of Myaamia forced Removal, Miami University will hold an event today, on October 11th. This date marks the day that Myaamia people passed closest to Miami University on Removal. The event will begin at the Miami University Art Museum Sculpture Garden near a statue by Myaamia artist Eugene Brown titled “A Tribe named Miami, a surveyor’s stake, a town named Oxford.” The sculpture incorporates a turtle at the base (representing Myaamia land) with the Miami University seal on its back. Additionally, the piece includes a Sandhill crane (representing Myaamia people) and other important Myaamia plants and animals. The white post through the center represents a surveyor’s stake, which symbolizes the transition of this land from Indigenous homelands into a territory and a state, upon which the university was founded. The opening part of the event will include remarks from Cristina Alcalde, Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion; Madelyn Jett, Student Body President; and Chief Douglas Lankford. This part of the event will focus on the history of removal and its lasting impact on the Myaamia community.
After the remarks at the Art Museum, attendees will be asked to take a walk to Bonham House, the home of the Myaamia Center. This will provide time for people to reflect upon what they have just learned. Along the walking path, there will be fabric strips tied into the trees, one for each of the 330 Myaamia people who were removed. Solid black strips representing the men, red calico for our women, solid blue for our young boys, and blue calico for young women. These will serve as a reminder of the individuals who were removed, but also of the loss that runs deep into the threads of our family lines and collectively through us as a people. Removal negatively affected every aspect of our identity; our sovereignty, culture, language, and communal traditions were all impacted.
Once everyone arrives at Bonham House, Daryl Baldwin, Executive Director of the Myaamia Center will speak about how we are moving forward today as a people, specifically talking about how cultural revitalization is integral to the healing process. The event will wrap up with President Crawford speaking to the importance of remembering this history as well as reaffirming Miami’s commitment to this ongoing partnership.
This event will be an opportunity for the Myaamia Nation and Miami University communities to come together and remember our shared history. Together we walk together on a good path made possible by our commitment to each other through neepwantiinki – our partnership in learning. We hope that everyone will continue learning about and reflecting on this history of Myaamia Removal, and you can do that by reading a Myaamia accounting of this history, which can be found in a series of blog posts by Diane Hunter, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.