The two Miamis mark 50 years of 'neepwaantiinki'
Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma are hosting a week-long series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of neepwaantiinki, the Myaamia word meaning "learning from each other." The celebration is the cornerstone event to a year-long commemoration of the two Miamis' partnership.
Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma first met in 1972 when Chief Forest Olds, having heard about a university in Ohio that shared a name with his tribal nation, showed up on campus unexpectedly during a visit to Cincinnati. What came of that surprise encounter is a 50-year-long partnership between the two Miamis.
From Nov. 7-12, Miami University athletic teams will wear uniforms featuring the Myaamia Heritage logo, and games will include educational information about the relationship between the university and the tribe. There are also special lectures, including on the history of the partnership, tours of the Miami University Art Museum's special exhibit "Sovereignty," and a keynote presentation titled "The Two Miamis: 50th Anniversary Celebration."
Kara Strass, Myaamia Center director of tribe relations, says the celebration is open to the entire campus and broader Oxford community.
"What we really wanted to do was to make it clear to people who attend this event that they are a part of the relationship; that it's not just two institutions coming together — it's made up of the individuals from the tribe and the university," she says.
Some people will speak about their personal experiences and why they choose to be part of the two Miamis' relationship, Strass says. There will also be interactive pieces for attendees.
"The hope is that people walk away understanding their own connection to the relationship, and a view of what it will mean to be a part of it moving forward," she adds.
The tribe and university have been reflecting on this partnership since January 2022. Strass says one aim of this capstone week of celebration is to help everyone feel connected.
"We have a goal that every student, faculty and staff member at Miami University understands that we have a relationship between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University," she says.
For Strass, the connection is personal. She's seen the relationship become more prominent across campus.
"As a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, personally, I'm able to reflect on just how meaningful this has been in my own life; he fact that without this relationship, we would not have been able to be where we are today in our cultural revitalization process. I want everyone to recognize just how immensely impactful that this relationship has been for our tribal nation and we are looking forward to everything that's going to come in the next 50 years."
The final event to cap the year-long commemoration comes in January 2023, when Miami students and staff will travel to Miami, Okla. for the tribe's annual Winter Gathering.
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