Miami students wear the items from the new Myaamia Heritage Collection.
Miami students wear the items from the new Myaamia Heritage Collection. Photo: Scott Kissell

New products support tribe students, promote university and tribe unity

Within a recently signed agreement between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University, a product line, the Myaamia Heritage Collection, has been created to celebrate the partnership and bolster awareness of its history.

The Myaamia (“Miami” in the tribe’s language) Heritage Collection will support Miami Tribe students at the university as all royalties from sales will fund scholarships for tribe students through the Myaamia Heritage Award Program.

A relationship of respect began in 1972 and has evolved into a multifaceted partnership, with activities of the Myaamia Center at its core. In October, Miami Tribe Chief Douglas Lankford and Miami University President Gregory Crawford celebrated the relationship in a new Memorandum of Agreement.

The relationship is best summed up with the Myaamia word neepwaantiinki, which means “learning from each other.”

Cornhole game photo with Heritage symbol

The Heritage Collection includes a cornhole set.

Knowing their heritage increases students’ success

While enrolled at Miami, tribe students take classes together and learn their own history, language and culture. They can also participate in activities and research to revitalize Myaamia language and culture.

Research shows the more familiar young people are with their heritage, the more it enhances their sense of self and of achievement. In learning their tribe’s language and culture, since 2003 students in the Myaamia Heritage Award Program graduate at more than three times the average rate of Native Americans in the U.S., at 77 percent in four years vs. 22.5 percent.

“It’s amazing what the university has done,” said junior Megan Mooney, a Miami Tribe member. “It allows us space to come together as tribespeople. …  it allows us to learn more about ourselves. If I hadn’t gone to Miami … I would be missing an entire part of me that I really have now.”

New symbols tell a shared story

The Myaamia Heritage Collection uses designs approved by both the tribe and the university, including symbols with shared meaning.
Tribe and university artists Julie Olds and Alyse Capaccio worked together recently to create a new symbol, the Myaamia Heritage logo, that represents the tribe and university relationship. It builds on the bold colors, geometric patterns and elongated diamonds found in traditional tribal ribbonwork. Teaching the art of ribbonwork, which dates to the 1700s when the Myaamia acquired silk ribbons from European traders, has been recently revitalized.

Discover the meanings of the shapes and colors of this symbol at the Myaamia Heritage logo website. This symbol does not replace existing university logos or the tribal seal.

A second symbol features a unique turtle design with the Myaamia Heritage logo on its back.

The Myaamia Heritage turtle symbol features elements that unite culture and tradition for both the tribe and the university.

A turtle appears on several tribal symbols and the turtle has traditional significance for Miami University students. The new Myaamia Heritage turtle image is designed by Alyse Capaccio.

The turtle appears on the Miami Tribe’s official seal. It also has traditional significance for Miami University students who seek good luck by rubbing the heads of copper turtles at the base of a sundial statue on the Oxford campus.
In the Heritage Collection, both the sundial design and the Myaamia Heritage logo appear on the turtle’s back, evoking the history of the sundial and the ongoing relationship between the tribe and the university.

Both of these symbols will be available on merchandise starting Dec. 8. Each item in the Myaamia Heritage Collection will have a hangtag or sticker with information and a website address regarding the Miami University-Tribe relationship.

Heritage Collection clothing and other items will be available at the Miami University Bookstore,, Follett Bookstore, and DuBois Book Store.