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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 28, 2002 - Issue 77


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Miami U., Tribe Work to Save Culture

by Randy McNutt The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Great Seal of the Miami Tribe of OklahomaOXFORD, OH - Three centuries of American Indian culture is flowing through this northern Butler County city now that Miami University is the central repository for the Miami Indian tribe.

Its historical, cultural and linguistic resources - the essence of a people - are back on land once inhabited by Indian tribes, including the Miamis.

The tribe, now based in Miami, Okla., and the university, which takes its name from the tribe, reached a historic agreement this month to establish the Myaamia Collection at Miami University. (Myaamia is the Miami word for Miami.)

The agreement is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, one that could serve as a model for other tribes and universities, said Daryl Baldwin, a linguist and the director of the Myaamia Project for Language Revitalization.

"It was a big step for the Miami Nation to move a portion of its language reclamation efforts to an academic setting," Mr. Baldwin said. "This opportunity has provided college-level students an opportunity to work directly with language and cultural efforts, and has provided the Miami with resources that directly benefit their reclamation efforts."

Miami University SealThe official collection will serve as the nation's primary resource on the Miami Indians, accessible to the Miami tribal community, academic researchers and the general public, said university spokeswoman Susan Meikle.

Collection materials - such items as paper records, photographs and maps - will be kept in the university's libraries. Cultural and patrimonial objects, such as religious items, will be kept at Miami's art museum. The school will also keep duplicates of tribal records.

"We are happy to be a party to such an agreement between an institution of higher learning and a native sovereign nation," said Floyd Leonard, chief of the Miami Tribe.

The Miamis lived in Ohio before U.S. forces defeated a warrior coalition at the Battle of Fallen Timbers near Toledo in 1794. After the Treaty of Greenville was signed, most of the tribe went to Indiana. By 1846, many had been moved to Kansas, and by 1867 to Oklahoma. As the Miamis interacted with the general population, the use of their own language declined.

Chief Leonard, who is in his mid-70s, said the tribe must try to save its language now or risk losing it forever.

In 1995, the tribe started a language revitalization program with the help of David Costa of the University of California at Berkeley. Since then, the Miamis have developed interactive software, language lessons and tapes, and language and cultural camps to help save their native tongue and culture.

Miami Nation
This page was created as a joint effort between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the Miami Nation of Indiana. Before 1846, the Miami People were one people and therefore shared the same history, language, and culture. After the 1846 removal the Miami became split into two distinct tribes. Today the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma maintains offices in Ottawa County, Oklahoma and the Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana maintains offices in Peru, Indiana.

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
You have reached the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Web Site, the web site is currently being revised. Thank you for your patience.

Miami University, OH Map
Maps by Travel
Miami, OK Map
Maps by Travel

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