Partners in Learning

Neepwaantiinki, the Myaamia word meaning “learning from each other," is a rich interpretation of “partners in learning," a phrase that Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma have used for years to describe their reciprocal relationship.

Sharing a common name and place, the connection between the University and the Tribe spans more than four decades and has evolved into a multi-layered collaboration built on trust, respect, and a shared commitment to education.

Like tending a fire, the University and the Tribe have a joint responsibility to continuously maintain this relationship, respond to challenges that might arise, and nurture it for future growth. Together, we celebrate this very unique partnership.

A Logo, A Relationship

ribbonwork

The Myaamia Heritage Logo references the traditional Miami Tribe art form of ribbonwork and symbolizes the unique relationship between the University and Tribe.

The Myaamia Heritage Logo does not replace any current symbols used by Miami University or the Miami Tribe.

niila myaamia (I am Miami)

Myaamia Center

President Crawford and his wife Dr. Crawford participate in moccasin game with MTO members and students

Created in 2001, the Myaamia Center (formerly called the Myaamia Project) is a Miami Tribe of Oklahoma initiative that serves as the research arm of the Tribe’s language and cultural revitalization efforts. The Center is located in the Bonham House on the Miami University Oxford campus.

The Center focuses on conducting in-depth research to assist the Miami Tribe’s educational initiatives aimed at the preservation of language and culture. The Center also emphasizes exposing undergraduate and graduate students at Miami University to tribal efforts in language and cultural revitalization.

The Myaamia Center is directly supported by both the Tribe and the University. Anyone committed to helping perpetuate Miami language and culture for future generations is welcome to participate.

Myaamia Center

Myaamia Students

Tess Von HemelTess Von Hemel

Tess VonHemel has always loved being around horses, so she joined the MU Equestrian Team where she rides hunt seat. She even won her class for Miami University at the Tournament of Champions, a competition featuring 16 nationally ranked teams!

Maximillian PyleMaximillian Pyle

Myaamia student Maximillian Pyle was excited to join Miami Entrepreneurship. This program has helped him explore creative, business-focused thinking. In the future, Max hopes to use his experience to contribute to the continued success of tribal businesses.

Eewansaapita & Saakaciweeta2019 Eewansaapita Staff

Myaamia Students from Miami University serve as counselors for the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma’s summer youth programs, Saakaciweeta (ages 6-9) and Eewansaapita (ages 10-16).  The students help camp participants by modeling how to be good learners and community members.

Moccasin Making Workshop

Moccasin Making Workshop

Myaamia Students participated in a moccasin making workshop, where they learned the entire process starting by making a pattern, cutting the pattern out of a hide, and sewing up the moccasins.

Programming, Support, and Activities

Bobbe Burke and Kara Strass

Bobbe Burke and Kara Strass work together to advance the University’s educational partnership with the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. A specific focus of their efforts is educating the University and Oxford communities about the Miami Tribe.

Together, Bobbe and Kara serve as advisors to Myaamia students as they participate in the Myaamia Heritage Award Program, providing ongoing support and helping them access campus resources and University services. Miami Tribe Relations also serves as the first point of contact for potential Myaamia applicants to Miami.

Relationship building is at the core of this office, and the work often extends beyond individual students to entire families. Maintaining a consistent visibility in the Tribal community offers opportunities to nurture new and established relationships.

Winter Gathering

Winter Gathering 2018

mahkisina ayootaawi miihkintiitaawi

"Let's play the moccasin game!" Tn this traditional Myaamia game, players try to determine where the opposing team has hidden game pieces, and win points based on when they find the pieces.

A young woman raises both arms in victory as the gamemaster holds his head in mock despair during the moccasin game

Photo credit: ©Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Jonathan Fox

seenseewinki

In the bowl game, players use a bowl to toss game pieces into the air, and win points based on how the pieces land. The first person to 10 points wins!

A group seated at a round table plays the bowl game

Photo credit: ©Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Jonathan Fox

aalhsoohkaana

Myaamia Winter stories are only told in the Winter time, which makes the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Winter Gathering the perfect time for a community storytelling event.

People recline on the floor while listening raptly to storytelling

Photo credit: ©Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Jonathan Fox

"The storytelling event was one of my favorite activities of the weekend. Hearing stories in both myaamiaataweenki and in English was enlightening and entertaining."-Miami Student

Stomp Dance

The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma’s Winter Gathering always culminates with a Stomp Dance. This is a social Stomp Dance where tribal members from around the area come and everyone is invited to participate.

People participating in the stomp dance

Photo credit: ©Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Jonathan Fox

"I really enjoyed the storytelling and the stomp dance celebration. It was fun being together with so many people in the community and participating in Myaamia Traditions." - Myaamia Student

Miami Tribe
of Oklahoma

The Miami Tribe (who refer to themselves as myaamia in their heritage language, meaning downstream people) is headquartered in Miami, Oklahoma where they were located after two forced removals. The Tribe originates from the Great Lakes region where their homelands lie within the boundaries of the states of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, lower Michigan and lower Wisconsin.

US Route 66 road sign with Miami Oklahoma on it

Learn more about the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma

An important part of the ongoing partnership between Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma has been the multiple connections between University and Tribal leaders.

While both the University and the Tribe have long histories with many leaders, the first interactions between the University and the Tribe began in 1972 with Chief Forest Olds.

Get to know the Tribe leaders who have had associations with the University.

Chief Forest Olds and President Philip Shriver

Forest D. Olds (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 1963–1974) is responsible for laying the groundwork that established a relationship between the Tribe and the University.

During a business trip to Cincinnati in 1972, he made a visit to the University. Although his visit to Oxford was unexpected, the University administration welcomed him and gave him a campus tour.

Chief Olds was invited back for a second visit to attend Miami's Alumni Weekend in June 1974. There, he met President Phillip R. Shriver for the first time and assisted in a special event: the unveiling of a John Ruthven painting of a kneeling Miami Indian. Chief Olds was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Miami University Alumni Association during this visit. He passed away shortly after that visit and was followed as Chief by Floyd Leonard.

Chief Floyd Leonard and President Philip Shriver

Floyd Leonard (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 1974–1982 and 1989–2008) spent his professional career in K-12 education. He had an intense commitment to educating young people, especially Myaamia youth. This commitment to education fueled his interest in the University and helped deepen the connection that started there with Chief Olds.

Starting in 1975, Chief Leonard visited campus on many occasions to participate in programs or interact with Miami students, faculty, and staff. He shared the history and contemporary operations of the Tribe. He also worked diligently to encourage Myaamia young adults to apply to the University. He was very pleased and proud when the first students arrived in 1991. More than 60 Myaamia students enrolled at Miami during his long tenure as Chief.

Highlights of his years as Chief include the following:

  • Being an invited speaker at three presidential inaugurations
  • Creation of the Myaamia Project
  • Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Tribe and the University.

Over a span of more than three decades, Floyd Leonard's presence was a powerful, positive force in forming the trusting and respectful relationship that exists between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the University today. In recognition of his contributions, Chief Leonard received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Miami at the May 2005 commencement.

Chief Thomas Gamble and Dr. Susan Mosley-Howard

Thomas Gamble (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 2008–2013) became Chief when Chief Leonard passed away. Chief Gamble had served as Second Chief for several years before that and knew the University well.

Chief Gamble's attachment to the University grew steadily over his years of service with the Tribe. Continuing the legacy of Chiefs Olds and Leonard, he devoted significant time and effort to make the long trip to Oxford for invited occasions and campus programs. He was a platform speaker for the University’s bicentennial celebration in February 2009 and came to Oxford as a special campus guest during the visit of the Dalai Lama in 2010.

In 2008, under his leadership, the Tribe and the University signed an official Memorandum of Agreement to recognize their joint commitment to support the work of the Myaamia Project. This signing occurred on the opening day of the Miami University Art Museum’s semester long exhibit about the Miami Tribe.

President Greg Crawford and Chief Douglas Lankford

Douglas Lankford (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 2013–present) visits the University often and continues the long-standing commitment that the Tribe has to the relationship with the University and the work of the Myaamia Center.

While serving as the Tribe’s Second Chief, he was also a special campus guest during the visit of the Dalai Lama in 2010. He has spoken to several different classes and especially enjoys attending Miami football and hockey games while on campus. While testifying before a Congressional committee in Washington DC one year, he had an unexpected meeting with Miami University students who were on a Spring Break trip there.

Chief Lankford was an invited speaker for the inauguration of Greg Crawford as Miami University’s 22nd president in October 2017. Chief Lankford’s opening remarks welcomed the Crawford family to “our Myaamia homelands." He went on to say, “The Miami Tribe is proud and honored that these lands, the rivers, and this great institution continue to bear our name.” His presentation was the fourth time a Miami Tribe Chief spoke at a Miami University presidential inauguration.

Chief Lankford is very gracious with his time and routinely welcomes University visitors to Oklahoma personally, often giving them a special tour of Tribal lands and facilities.

Tribe Leaders

An important part of the ongoing partnership between Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma has been the multiple connections between University and Tribal leaders.

While both the University and the Tribe have long histories with many leaders, the first interactions between the University and the Tribe began in 1972 with Chief Forest Olds.

Get to know the Tribe leaders who have had associations with the University.

Forest Olds

Chief Forest Olds and President Philip Shriver

Forest D. Olds (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 1963–1974) is responsible for laying the groundwork that established a relationship between the Tribe and the University.

During a business trip to Cincinnati in 1972, he made a visit to the University. Although his visit to Oxford was unexpected, the University administration welcomed him and gave him a campus tour.

Chief Olds was invited back for a second visit to attend Miami's Alumni Weekend in June 1974. There, he met President Phillip R. Shriver for the first time and assisted in a special event: the unveiling of a John Ruthven painting of a kneeling Miami Indian. Chief Olds was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Miami University Alumni Association during this visit. He passed away shortly after that visit and was followed as Chief by Floyd Leonard.

Floyd Leonard

Chief Floyd Leonard and President Philip Shriver

Floyd Leonard (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 1974–1982 and 1989–2008) spent his professional career in K-12 education. He had an intense commitment to educating young people, especially Myaamia youth. This commitment to education fueled his interest in the University and helped deepen the connection that started there with Chief Olds.

Starting in 1975, Chief Leonard visited campus on many occasions to participate in programs or interact with Miami students, faculty, and staff. He shared the history and contemporary operations of the Tribe. He also worked diligently to encourage Myaamia young adults to apply to the University. He was very pleased and proud when the first students arrived in 1991. More than 60 Myaamia students enrolled at Miami during his long tenure as Chief.

Highlights of his years as Chief include the following:

  • Being an invited speaker at three presidential inaugurations
  • Creation of the Myaamia Project
  • Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Tribe and the University.

Over a span of more than three decades, Floyd Leonard's presence was a powerful, positive force in forming the trusting and respectful relationship that exists between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the University today. In recognition of his contributions, Chief Leonard received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Miami at the May 2005 commencement.

Thomas Gamble

Chief Thomas Gamble and Dr. Susan Mosley-Howard

Thomas Gamble (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 2008–2013) became Chief when Chief Leonard passed away. Chief Gamble had served as Second Chief for several years before that and knew the University well.

Chief Gamble's attachment to the University grew steadily over his years of service with the Tribe. Continuing the legacy of Chiefs Olds and Leonard, he devoted significant time and effort to make the long trip to Oxford for invited occasions and campus programs. He was a platform speaker for the University’s bicentennial celebration in February 2009 and came to Oxford as a special campus guest during the visit of the Dalai Lama in 2010.

In 2008, under his leadership, the Tribe and the University signed an official Memorandum of Agreement to recognize their joint commitment to support the work of the Myaamia Project. This signing occurred on the opening day of the Miami University Art Museum’s semester long exhibit about the Miami Tribe.

Douglas Lankford

President Greg Crawford and Chief Douglas Lankford

Douglas Lankford (Chief of the Miami Tribe, 2013–present) visits the University often and continues the long-standing commitment that the Tribe has to the relationship with the University and the work of the Myaamia Center.

While serving as the Tribe’s Second Chief, he was also a special campus guest during the visit of the Dalai Lama in 2010. He has spoken to several different classes and especially enjoys attending Miami football and hockey games while on campus. While testifying before a Congressional committee in Washington DC one year, he had an unexpected meeting with Miami University students who were on a Spring Break trip there.

Chief Lankford was an invited speaker for the inauguration of Greg Crawford as Miami University’s 22nd president in October 2017. Chief Lankford’s opening remarks welcomed the Crawford family to “our Myaamia homelands." He went on to say, “The Miami Tribe is proud and honored that these lands, the rivers, and this great institution continue to bear our name.” His presentation was the fourth time a Miami Tribe Chief spoke at a Miami University presidential inauguration.

Chief Lankford is very gracious with his time and routinely welcomes University visitors to Oklahoma personally, often giving them a special tour of Tribal lands and facilities.

Our Heritage: Connecting the Past and Future

Myaamia students past and present view an educational exhibit

Historical Timeline

Today's relationship between the Miami Tribe and Miami University originated with a visit to Oxford in 1972 by Forest Olds, the Chief of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma at that time.

Explore a timeline of the rich history of this relationship, which is unique within higher education.

History

Myaamia Heritage Collection

Myaamia Heritage Collection

About the Collection

In proud partnership with the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Miami University is pleased to present the Myaamia Heritage Collection. Through the use of traditional tribal ribbonwork, Myaamia words, and University symbols, the Collection embraces the essence of our relationship.

Myaamia Heritage Collection merchandise sales help fund the Myaamia Heritage Award Program, a scholarship for Myaamia students attending Miami University.