Myaamia Heritage Program Update — February 2022

We are always excited for our students to return to campus, and this semester was no exception.  Bonham House always feels a bit empty until they are back in the student room and we can hear conversations and laughter throughout the halls.  

Only a few days after the semester started, we headed down to Miami, Oklahoma for the Tribe’s Winter Gathering celebration.  Although the celebration was smaller than normal this year, we were able to take seven Myaamia students with us.  Some had been to Oklahoma for the event before, but it was brand new for others.  Throughout the weekend event, they were able to participate in storytelling, stomp dancing, games, and visit Tribal properties.  We look forward to next year when we hope that a larger group of students can join us for this event.

Six Myaamia students pose in front of a sign saying 'Welcome to Miami Nation'
Myaamia students at the 2022 Winter Gathering in Miami, Oklahoma. Photo by Kara Strass.

Students in the Myaamia Heritage Course this semester will pick up where they left off last semester, learning about Environmental Perspectives and History.  In the second week of class, we spent time outside setting up our maple sugaring operation.  Students were able to drill holes and hang buckets to get ready for this year’s sap collection.   It has been too cold here to collect much sap, but students will help collect the sap over the next couple of weeks and will also help boil down the sap into syrup or sugar.  Students learned all about the process in last week’s class, including how the process has changed over time in our community.  The most exciting part of class was getting to eat siihsipaahkwi ‘maple sugar’ and iihkisaminki ‘maple syrup.’

Group of people standing near Maple tree while student hangs a bucket to collect the sap.
Students tap maple trees as part of the Myaamia Heritage Course in 2019. Photo by Jonathan Fox.

Last week brought a big winter storm, starting with freezing rain and then several inches of snow.  Classes were cancelled for two days, but a group of students took advantage of the winter weather to play some snowsnake in celebration of weehki-kihkatwe ‘Myaamia Lunar New Year’.  Snowsnake is a game in which you slide your wooden “snake” across the ice or snow.  There are a few different variations of the game in which you try to get your snake to slide the farthest or closest to a target, but we were playing just for fun and to get in some practice with the snowsnakes.  After being out in the cold for a while, we came in to drink mankiišaahwaapowi ‘Sassafras tea’ and eat some treats.  It was a really nice way to come together as a community and celebrate the new year.

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