Myaamia Heritage Award Program

The Myaamia Heritage Award Program is designed to be a full (four-year) undergraduate college experience for enrolled citizens of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma or members of the Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana, Inc. who meet all entrance requirements for admission to Miami University and enroll as Oxford campus students.

The Myaamia Heritage Award Program includes the Heritage Award (a waiver of instructional fees available for up to eight semesters) and educational support from the Heritage Program Coordinator and Myaamia Center staff.

Students in the Myaamia Heritage Award Program are required to maintain the following:

  • Enrollment in at least 12 credit hours
  • A cumulative grade point average of 2.3 after the end of the freshman year
  • A cumulative grade point average of 2.5 at the end of every other year

Potential Myaamia applicants must apply to the University in the same manner as any other prospective Miami University student, including meeting the standard admission requirements. Contact the Director of Miami Tribe Relations, Kara Strass, to learn more about this award program.

Heritage Classes

Students in the Myaamia Heritage Award Program are required to participate in and successfully complete eight semesters of one-credit courses, called Heritage classes. 

These classes focus on themes about the Miami Tribe:

  • Ecological perspectives and history
  • Language and culture
  • Contemporary tribal issues
  • The senior year is a two-semester senior project

These classes assure that the Myaamia students who attend Miami University have an opportunity to expand their knowledge of tribal history, language, and culture. The goal is for the Heritage classes to spark a deep interest and investment in the Miami Tribe that results in the student's commitment to remain a lifelong, active participant of the Tribal community.

The Heritage class meets weekly, providing an opportunity for Myaamia students to maintain their connection with one another. Although the total membership of the Miami Tribe community is small (around 6,000 people) and dispersed throughout the United States, Heritage classes allow Myaamia students to learn about the ways in which they are related to each other and develop a small Tribal community on campus.

Origins of the Program

Fundraising efforts for a scholarship for Myaamia students began early in the relationship between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma (MTO) and Miami University. Initially called the American Heritage Scholarship during the 1973-74 academic year, the local Church Women United helped fund this scholarship. By February 1974 a full description of the American Heritage Scholarship existed, seeking to recruit Native American students and, if possible, award the scholarship to a Miami Indian.

Despite the existence of this scholarship, the University struggled at first to recruit Myaamia students. In the mid-1970s, the University sent announcements about scholarship possibilities to the MTO community and Chief Leonard shared the information with other local Oklahoma tribes. None of these efforts produced Native applicants. In 1978-79, a Wampanoag Tribe member from Massachusetts enrolled at Miami and became the first recipient of the American Heritage Scholarship. By the late 1980s, additional eligible students were receiving $1,000 awards, but no record is available of exactly who those students were or what, if any, tribal affiliation they had.

Eventually, Dr. Myrtis Powell (Miami University Vice President for Student Affairs, 1989-2002) helped establish the first parameters for the financial assistance available to eligible Miami Tribe members. In a letter to Chief Floyd Leonard in September 1990, Dr. Powell promised to "provide tuition waiver for any member of the Miami Tribe who meets program requirements and is accepted for admission to the University." This tuition waiver was eventually renamed and included in the Myaamia Heritage Award Program. The first Myaamia students enrolled for the 1991-92 academic year.