Miami University, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma celebrate 50th anniversary with ‘Two Miamis’ event
OXFORD, Ohio – When Chief Forest Olds of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma made an unplanned visit to Miami University in 1972, it set in motion a relationship between the two Miamis that continues to thrive today.
Representatives from both the Tribe and the university took part in an emotional commemoration of the partnership on Wednesday, Nov. 9, during the “The Two Miamis: 50th Anniversary Celebration” at Millett Hall.
Miami President Gregory Crawford and Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Chief Douglas Lankford spoke and exchanged gifts — a statue of Chief Olds and then-Miami President Phillip Shriver from the Tribe, and a planned amphitheater and the naming of a room in MacMillan Hall in honor of the Tribe from the university.
“As I reflect on this occasion, I’m keenly aware of just how special this relationship truly is,” Chief Lankford said during Wednesday’s event. “I realize I stand with you today because 50 years ago a Myaamia leader chose to visit Miami University.
“I often wonder if he realized his visit would kindle a fire. At first, a small flickering flame, yet one that would grow over the decades to a warm, vibrant fire that is the relationship we are drawn and mutually committed to caring for today.”
Dustin Olds, great-nephew of Forest Olds, and Cameron Shriver, grandson of Phillip Shriver, were among Wednesday’s speakers. Dustin Olds is second chief of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, while Cameron Shriver is a historian at the Myaamia Center.
Created in 2001 as the Myaamia Project, the center is at the heart of the Tribe’s cultural and language revitalization work and speaks to the commitment between the Tribe and the university to neepwaantiinki – the Myaamia term for “learning from each other.”
“This relationship has inspired change and grown deeper because of our shared vision and action,” President Crawford said.
“This partnership not only preserves the Miami Tribe’s history, language, and culture — it revives that past to enrich our present.”
Daryl Baldwin, executive director of the Myaamia Center, and Haley Shea, Myaamia research assistant and visiting assistant professor, also spoke at the event.
Following the exchange of gifts, hundreds of attendees participated in an interactive activity that represented the Myaamia Heritage Logo, a reference to Myaamia ribbonwork which symbolizes the unique relationship between the Tribe and university.
“The partnership of the Miami Tribe and Miami University is built on respect, humility, and understanding — the only sure foundation for human connection that values equality and dignity,” President Crawford said. “We have preserved this relationship like tending a fire, and we will keep advancing together.”
“The Two Miamis” event is part of Celebrating Miami: Tribe and University Week, which continues through Nov. 13.