Student Perspective: Myaamia Culture and Imagery Seminar and Curriculum Workshop

Myaamia Culture and Imagery Seminar and Curriculum Workshop attendees
Myaamia Culture and Imagery Seminar and Curriculum Workshop attendees


Student Perspective: Myaamia Culture and Imagery Seminar and Curriculum Workshop

We are More than What is Found in History Books”

The Miami University Myaamia Culture and Imagery Seminar and Workshop held on Sept. 15, 2018, exemplified and strengthened the relationship between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma (MTO) and Miami University. The partnership between the Myaamia Center and the Art Education program within the Department of Art at Miami University made strides to further the development of educational materials provided to future educators in the hopes that they will pass this newfound knowledge to their students.

The workshop and seminar, led and developed by Stephanie Danker, was the product of her love for Myaamia culture and her dedication to her students’ learning. Development for this program began first when Stephanie made two trips to Oklahoma and became more knowledgeable about Myaamia culture. Then in March of 2018, she submitted a proposal for the College of Creative Arts Scholarship and Teaching Grant. Once obtained, she was able to schedule the program not only for students in her Art 395: Art Across the Curriculum class but also for art education students from the University of Illinois and current elementary educators who could use the information presented to facilitate their students’ learning.

This event contained multiple components, from a seminar on the history and relationship between the tribe and the university to a foray into the art museum located on campus. One of the most fascinating segments, however, was the ribbonwork demonstration led by Karen Baldwin.

Baldwin, who has over 25 years of experience with ribbonwork, demonstrated the unique pattern of stitching accomplished by the Miami Tribe that makes it specific to the Miami Tribe. The students were shown how to produce a simplified paper version of the unique pattern, typically sewn onto silk when first produced by tribe members. This easier version is intended to be utilized by educators as a method to teach elementary students on the history of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

What was the purpose of this seminar and culture workshop? Danker says “I was trying to figure out ways that my students could learn more about the Myaamia culture before they attempted to teach about a culture other than their own… [they] needed a deeper understanding and a deeper respect for the culture.” With the goal of teaching an introductory history lesson about the Miami Tribe to every fourth grader in Talawanda School District, Danker is well on her way to accomplishing that goal after completing the workshop that educated over twenty future and current teachers about the history and cultural relevancy of the tribe.

Shianne Baldwin, an attendee of the workshop and future art educator, feels that she greatly benefited from the experience and knowledge she gained from this event, saying “In an art education classroom, I can teach the art, history, and context that they might not learn in their social studies classroom.” This sentiment was furthered by Kara Strass, a presenter at the workshop and Miami Tribe member, saying Native American history taught in K-12 education is often centered around the perception of a dying culture. “Ribbonwork opens up questions about a thriving culture; we are more than what is found in history books.”

This article was written by Miami University student and workshop participant Jake Ligmanowski on October 29, 2018.

Learn more about the Myaamia Center.