This year, 2022, we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the relationship between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University. What began as a visit by Miami Tribe Chief Forest Olds has grown into a reciprocal relationship that today includes the Myaamia Center and the Myaamia Heritage Program. The Tribe and university recently came together to commemorate this milestone. November 6-13 was Celebrating Miami: Tribe and University week in Oxford. There were events each day that all students, faculty, and staff could participate in together. Chief Lankford, Second Chief Olds, Secretary/Treasurer Williams, and Councilperson Tera Hatley all traveled to Ohio along with several people from the Cultural Resources Office to join in the celebrations.
As in previous years, all of Miami’s athletic events during the week focused on the relationship by including in-game elements that help to educate everyone who attends the games. The athletes wore Myaamia Heritage Logo uniforms, and the games each included announcements, trivia, and activities that focused on the relationship. We kicked off the week on Monday by visiting the Football facilities where new Myaamia Heritage Logo uniforms were unveiled. Throughout the week, we attended Men and Women’s Basketball, Football, and Hockey games.
The signature event of the week, The Two Miami’s: 50th Anniversary Celebration, took place on Wednesday at Millett Hall. Representatives from both the Tribe and University spoke about their own personal connections to the relationship. Second Chief Dustin Olds and Myaamia Center historian Cameron Shriver spoke together about their familial connections to Chief Forest Olds and President Phillip Shriver. It was powerful to hear about how connections that were forged 50 years ago continue to exist today. Haley Shea spoke about her lifetime of connection to the relationship, starting with summer youth programs as a child, continuing through the Myaamia Heritage Program, and now working at the Myaamia Center. Chief Lankford and President Crawford each spoke to the impact of the relationship on their respective institutions.
At the end of the event, gifts were exchanged in recognition of the anniversary. The Tribe decided to honor the memory of Chief Forest Olds and President Phillip Shriver with a statue of these two men in the lobby of Roudebush Hall. This gift will serve as a physical reminder of this relationship and what we have and will continue to accomplish together. The university is dedicating two locations on campus to the relationship: an outdoor amphitheater and an indoor classroom space. Both of these will be available to the Myaamia Center to use for the Myaamia Heritage Course and other events. Both of these items are still in the idea phase, so we look forward to working together with the university to design the spaces.
In the final portion of the event, we asked all attendees to come up near the stage and add a red ribbon to a physical representation of the Myaamia Heritage Logo. This symbolized adding fuel to the collective fire that is the relationship. This symbol will serve as a reminder of the fire that was started by those who came before us, the warmth that we feel today, and our hopes for what we can accomplish together in the future.
Thursday, Miami Dining hosted a lunch that featured Myaamia foods. The Myaamia Center worked together with Western Dining hall to determine ingredients that could be sourced for the meal and provided recipes for inspiration. The meal included turkey, bison, squash, wild rice, hominy, cranberries, and many other ingredients important to Myaamia people. That evening, Cameron Shriver gave a presentation titled “Red and White” where he spoke about the history of Miami’s previous mascot and Miami’s use of Native American imagery. The talk stemmed from the research that he is doing for a book about the history of the relationship between the Tribe and University. While the presentation shone a light on a part of Miami University’s history that is not so positive, we thought that it was important to talk about this history and it shows just how far we have come.
Celebrating Miami week is something that started in Miami athletics and grew this year to incorporate many aspects of Miami’s campus. During this special anniversary year, we wanted to plan opportunities for the Tribe and university to come together to reflect on what has been accomplished, celebrate our outcomes, and think about what we want from the next 50 years. If you would like to see more about the week, Miami University put together a photo essay where you can learn more about the week’s events.