FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)
Below are a list of questions that we are quite commonly asked via email or during public presentations. If you are looking for answers regarding Myaamiaataweenki ‘the Miami Language,’ visit our Language FAQ page.
If you’d like to ask a question, you can do so by using the comment feature at the bottom of page or by sending an email to George Ironstrack at ironstgm@MiamiOH.edu.
Are there any fluent speakers of Miami?
No, the last fluent speaker passed away in the 1960’s and the language went to sleep for 30 years until the community started revitalizing it through the documentation found in archives. Today, we have a small, but growing, population of Myaamia who use the language regularly at a beginner level with a handful who are more proficient in the language.
How do I set up the ILDA Dictionary app?
When you download the app, a demo dictionary will load. You will need to change the language in the app settings (location dependent on operating system). For step-by-step directions for Android and iOS devices, visit our Dictionary Update! post.
What does the word Miami mean?
The answer to this question has a lot of history behind it, so we recommend checking out our What does the word “Miami” mean? post for a more detailed explanation of what Miami means and why it is a common placename.
In a literal sense, Miami is related to the word Myaamia. This term was originally used by other Indigenous peoples in reference to our location being downstream on a river. Over time, we began using it to describe ourselves.
What kinds of clothing did Myaamia (Miami Indian) people wear prior to contact with Europeans?
As is the case for most people today, the type of clothing worn by Myaamia people depended on available materials and the weather. You can find a more detailed description in our Myaamia (Miami Indian) Clothing Pre-Contact post.
That said, clothes were commonly made from hides and decorated with available materials. Typical articles of clothing included: leggings, breechcloth, moccasins, skirts, shirts, and large blanket robes.
How has Myaamia (Miami Indian) clothing changed over time?
The answer to this question depends on what time period you are referencing since our clothing has evolved over time like all cultural groups. More details on the topic can be found in our Myaamia (Miami Indian) Clothing Post-Contact post.
Today, Myaamia people typically wear the same clothes as any other person in the region where they live. It is also common for us to wear clothing featuring geometric designs inspired by historic ribbonwork patterns as a way of expressing our Myaamia identity.
What kinds of houses did Myaamia (Miami Indian) people build?
The answer to this question depends on what time period you are referencing. More details on this topic can be found in our niikinaana – Our Homes post.
Traditionally, Myaamia people lived in wiikiaama or wigwams in English. Today, Myaamia people live in a variety of dwellings, including apartments and houses.
Did the Myaamia (Miami Indians) have sub-tribes?
Many histories apply the label “sub-tribe” to groups like the Atchakangouen, Kilatika, Mengkonkia, Pepikokia, Piankeshaw, and Wea. Each of these names are, for the most part, Miami-Illinois speaking village groups. Each of these villages operated as its own largely independent community. They all shared the same language; stories; ecological patterns and behaviors (culture); and the same or very similar landscapes. Most of these village groups literally descend from each other like family. As a village grew too large to support itself, a group would split off and form a new village downstream. These related villages could come together in times of war and to negotiate the group peace required to end a conflict.
What Europeans called “Nations” and later “Tribes” and or “Confederations” were originally groupings of villages that shared common traits. These groupings could work together and achieve goals, but for the most part they lacked any firm hierarchical political structure.
What was the pre-contact population of the Myaamia (Miami Indians)?
This one is a bit tricky, so check out our full discussion in our FAQ: Pre-Contact Miami Indian Population? post.
If we had to estimate though, at least 10,000 to 12,000.
How did the Myaamia (Miami Indian) people govern themselves?
This concept is approached differently from a Myaamia perspective. For more information on leadership roles, read our How did Myaamia (Miami Indian) people govern themselves? (FAQ) post.
For the most part though, individual families took care of themselves. Leaders were viewed as servants of their people.
How did the Myaamia (Miami Indians) punish crime?
Ultimately, the punishment depended on the crime. We discuss some common consequences in our How did the Myaamia (Miami Indians) punish crime? (FAQ) post.
That said, few behaviors were considered “criminal” and disputes were typically handled by family groups.
Is there a word, in Myaamia, for the Mound Builders and/or the mounds themselves?
We have never found any language relative to the mound complexes or mound building in general. It is also interesting to note that in the vast historical record there is no mention of the Myaamia having any association with the mounds other than they knew they were there and did not disturb them. There are, however, extensive mound vocabularies in other non-Algonquian languages like Muskogean languages.
What does Twigh Twee mean and why is it sometimes used to refer to the Myaamia (Miami Indians)?
This particular question has a long and short answer. For the long answer, visit our FAQ: Origins of the name Twigh Twee? post.
The short answer is we’re not sure. Most likely, it came from the Cherokee or the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois).
Was “Aquenackwe” Little Turtle’s Father?
To really get to the bottom of this question, George Ironstrack did some historical digging. He discusses his work in our Was “Aquenackwe” Little Turtle’s Father? (FAQ) post.
The conclusion George came to was “Aquenackwe” was probably not Little Turtle’s father.
6 Comments Add yours
Hello. Have you considered DNA testing with known ancestors to try and determine family lines?
moohci ‘no’ we haven’t. We know our family lines quite well because families maintained ties to each other despite the forces of war, removal, and fragmentation. In addition, our families are heavily documented due to the processes generated by treaties, payments, and allotment. Dr. Kim Tallbear has written extensively about the risks inherent in associating tribal citizenship with DNA, and an early summary of her conclusions can be found here, but I also encourage those interested in learning more to read her 2013 book – Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, University of Minnesota Press.
I’ve read Indian Villages of the Illinois Country and noticed that all the names of historical tribal members are either in English, French, or a garbled English or French pronunciation. As part of language revitalization, is there any work being done to restore these names to their original form?
aya Mr. Rothach, the Myaamia Center and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma have done a lot of work with our traditional names and some of that work has been untangling the garbled names in the historical record. However, as a general rule we keep our traditional names private and don’t publish them in the public realm. The exception to this rule are well-known Myaamia leaders like Tahkamwa (often Takamwa) and Mihšihkinaahkwa (often Michikinikwa or the Little Turtle). The public confusion caused by the many erroneous interpretations of their names has an impact on our own commmunity, and so we are forced publicly address the pronunciation and meanings behind their names.
neewe for your question,
I am a reporter for Indian Country Today, trying to gather information about your tribe’s affiliation with sandhill cranes. I believe, like Hindus and cows, there was reverence for the giant birds. I also believe, like the bison, that while being respected and honored, they may still have been hunted as food for survival. My question is: Did tribal members hunt sandhill cranes to eat?
Thank you for taking a minute to visit our site. I read ICT regularly and I learn a lot from the broad perspectives conveyed through the reporting. Regarding cecaahkwa (Sandhill Crane), yes your assumption is correct. There were very few animals on the Myaamia “do not eat list” and cecaahkwa (Sandhill Crane) wasn’t on it. The only exception that jumps to mind is perhaps that those who came from a cecaahkwa clan or a related sub-clan might not have eaten this bird. However, our clan system ceased to function in the mid-1800s due to population collapse, so this kind of knowledge wasn’t recorded. You’re also correct that cecaahkwa continue to be held in high regard by Myaamia people. If you need further historic or contemporary examples of this I can provide them to you with more depth and references. Just let me know.