Throughout 2022, the Miami Tribe celebrated the 50th anniversary of our community’s relationship with Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. As we wrapped up the celebrations at the Myaamia Winter Gathering in January, we wanted to reflect on everything that happened this year.
The events that took place on Miami’s campus wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of the 50th-anniversary planning committee, made up of members of the Miami Tribe’s Cultural Resources Office, Myaamia Center Staff, Myaamia alumni and students, and many partners across Miami’s campus. The committee started meeting in November 2020, giving ourselves a year to prepare for the start of the celebrations.
During the celebratory year, we hosted events both in Miami, OK, and Oxford, OH, collaborating with a number of departments, including the President’s Office, Athletics, Alumni, Student Life, Residence Life, King Library, University Communications and Marketing, and more. The intention of the year was to provide both the Myaamia community and the Miami University committee with several opportunities to learn about the relationship.
We had planned on kicking off celebrations at the 2022 Myaamia Winter Gathering, but unfortunately, COVID-19 was surging across the country, so the gathering was limited. Instead, we concluded our celebrations at this year’s gathering. A number of Miami University guests joined us for the gathering, including Miami University President Greg Crawford, University Ambassador Dr. Renate Crawford, and nearly 40 other Vice Presidents, deans, administrative staff, academic faculty, and staff.
Throughout the weekend, University guests had the opportunity to explore some of the Myaamia spaces in Miami, OK like the tribal headquarters and the Myaamia Heritage Museum and Archive. They also connected with the Myaamia community by playing games, making art, sharing meals, listening to stories, and dancing together. Attending this gathering allows each community to form a deeper connection and understanding of one another, helping to further tend the fire that is this relationship. You can read more about this year’s Winter Gathering on Aacimotaatiiyankwi here.
In order to ensure that everyone was able to participate in the year’s celebrations, we partnered with Miami University’s Alumni Association on a year-long webinar series. Daryl Baldwin, executive director of the Myaamia Center, kicked off the series by talking about the importance of language revitalization and his journey with revitalization work. Throughout the year a number of Myaamia Center staff gave presentations including, Geroge Ironstrack on the History of the Miami Tribe, Cameron Shriver on the history of our relationship with Miami, Kara Strass on the Myaamia Student experience, Susan Mosley-Howard on the Impact of Revitalization and David Costa and Jarrid Baldwin on Current Revitalization work. You can view any of the webinars here.
Additionally, we partnered with the Alumni Association on events for Miami’s Alumni Weekend, as well as Grandparents College. During Alumni Weekend, Myaamia Center staff talked with alumni who returned to campus for the event focused on peekitahaminki ‘lacrosse’, and encouraged participants to try throwing, catching, and shooting with a wooden lacrosse stick. Grandparents college is an opportunity for alumni to bring their grandchildren to campus for a few days and includes several different activities that they can take part in. Myaamia Center staff presented on peepankišaapiikahkia eehkwaatamenki ‘ribbonwork’, and then the grandparents and their grandchildren were able to make paper bookmarks inspired by ribbonwork.
In April, the Myaamia Center hosted the bi-annual Myaamiaki Conference at Miami University. The day-long event invites both the Myaamia and Miami University communities to hear about the research and projects going on at the Center. This year’s conference was the first one in 4 years (due to COVID-19) and the largest ever with over 500 participants, including 190 who joined virtually. In-person participants had the opportunity to visit Myaamia artist tables and receive tours from Myaamia Heritage students of the Richard and Emily Smucker Wiikiaami Room between presentations. You can read a full recap of the event on Aacimotaatiiyankwi here or view the presentations here.
Miami University Dining Services hosted Myaamia maayaahkweeta ‘Myaamia lunch’ featuring Myaamia foods twice throughout the year. The Myaamia Center worked with Western Dining Hall to determine ingredients and provide recipes for inspiration. The meal featured ingredients like turkey, bison, squash, wild rice, hominy, and cranberries. A similar meal was hosted again in the Fall during the Celebrating Miami: Tribe and University week.
When the Miami Field Hockey Team wore their Myaamia Heritage Logo jerseys in September, Myaamia students and Center staff were invited to help educate about the relationship. A Myaamia student made the honorary pass-back to start the game, and after the game, the team hosted a meal while Myaamia Center staff led a lacrosse shoot-out game with Myaamia lacrosse sticks.
That same month, at a ceremony hosted by the Miami Tribe Relations office and the Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA), a new bus design was unveiled by President Crawford, BCRTA executive director Matthew Dutkevicz, and Kara Strass, director of Miami Tribe relations, outside the Myaamia Center. BCRTA is contracted with Miami University to provide bussing for Miami University students and staff around campus, including Miami’s regional campuses. The new bus design, meant to publicly honor and educate the local community about our unique relationship, features Myaamia language and aesthetics, like ribbonwork-inspired designs.
One of the largest events of the year was the Celebrating Miami: Tribe and University week, held November 6-13. A number of tribal leaders, including Chief Lankford and members of the business committee, as well as several Myaamia alumni traveled to Oxford to participate in the events. The week included athletic events, ceremonies, exhibit receptions, makerspace activities, lectures, and more. The athletic department gifted Myaamia Heritage students with bucket hats, featuring the 50th-anniversary logo, to wear to games throughout the week.
The signature event of the week, The Two Miami’s: 50th Anniversary Celebration ceremony, was held on Wednesday, November 11 in Millett Hall. During this ceremony, individuals were invited to speak about their personal connections to the relationship. At the end of the event, gifts were exchanged to acknowledge each communities’ commitment to this relationship. The Tribe, honoring the memory of Chief Forest Olds and President Phillip Shriver, presented the University with a statue of the two men to be displayed in the lobby of Roudebush Hall. The university chose to dedicate two spaces on campus to the relationship; an outdoor amphitheater and an indoor classroom space to use for Myaamia Heritage courses and other events. Myaamia Center staff recently began working with University Marketing and Communications to design and decorate the spaces.
To conclude the event, all attendees of the ceremony were invited to place a red ribbon in a physical representation of the Myaamia Heritage Logo, symbolizing adding fuel to the collective fire that is this relationship. This symbol will be placed in one of the dedicated Myaamia spaces on campus to serve as a reminder of the fire that was started by those who came before us, the warmth of the relationship felt today, and the continued dedication needed to continue ‘learning from each other’ into the future.
The week included several other events, including a lecture by, Cameron Shriver, Myaamia Center historian, who presented on the history of Miami’s old mascot and the institution’s use of Native American imagery. The research for this lecture was collected by Cameron as he works on a book detailing this relationship. While this presentation reminds us of an ugly past, it’s important to discuss the complexities of this relationship and how far we have come since. You can read more about the week of activities on the Aacimotaatiiyankwi blog here.
While we were not able to include every event that took place during the Celebrating Miami year, we hope that it is clear that both the Miami Tribe and Miami University came together to ensure that both communities were able to take part in the year-long celebrations. In part 2 of this reflection, we will talk about several exhibits that took place in 2022 as part of the Celebrating Miami Year.