2 Miamis join to celebrate half-century of partnership

There are actually two Miamis — the university and the Native American tribe it’s named after — and their leaders joined together this week to celebrate their unique relationship of half a century.

Miami University President Gregory Crawford and Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Chief Douglas Lankford headlined “The Two Miamis: 50th Anniversary Celebration” at Millett Hall spotlighting historical and current-day ties.

Crawford and Lankford spoke at the public event Wednesday on Miami’s main Oxford campus and also honored the impromptu 1972 visit to the school by the then Chief Forest Olds of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

Olds’ visit 50 years ago was not planned but was impactful, Miami officials noted in a released statement, with its reverberations continue well into the 21st Century.

The gifts from each partner reflected the long relationship.

Lankford presented to Crawford a statue of Chief Olds and then-Miami President Phillip Shriver and from the school reciprocated with the announcement of 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 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,” said Lankford.

Crawford said: “This relationship has inspired change and grown deeper because of our shared vision and action.”

“This partnership not only preserves the Miami Tribe’s history, language, and culture — it revives that past to enrich our present,” he said.

The two parties’ cooperation also saw the change of Miami’s nickname used for sports and clubs from the long-used “Redskins” to “Redhawks” in 1998 and in 2001 they joined forces in creating the Myaamia Center on the Miami campus.

The center serves the tribe’s research and educational development efforts. One hundred Myaamia community members have graduated from Miami, where currently an average of 40 tribe students a semester attend Miami as part of the Myaamia Heritage Program.

In 2017 the school and tribe signed an agreement and later unveiled a jointly designed logo to be used on merchandise and clothing at the school and online as part of the Miami Historical Logo.

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,” Crawford said. “We have preserved this relationship like tending a fire, and we will keep advancing together.”

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