Offices

The Myaamia Center includes several offices, with differing areas of focus and staff support.

Executive Director

The executive director is responsible for overseeing center operations, managing budgets, supporting the mission, planning and organizing, and overseeing fundraising.

In order to carry out these responsibilities, the Office of the Executive Director works with the collective talents and experiences of the following stakeholders:

Research and Development

Myaamia Program Assessment

Language and culture revitalization is one crucial issue facing many First Nation communities today. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma has undertaken revitalization efforts since 1996 by developing a wide range of community based educational initiatives including support for the development of the Myaamia Center at Miami University to assist in the development of tribal education.

A strategic goal of this revitalization movement is to reconnect the Myaamia people to their indigenous knowledge system.

This strategic goal is being achieved through a wide range of educational opportunities rooted in language and cultural learning. It is understood that the Myaamia language is the most effective and efficient means of communicating cultural knowledge.

After many years of observing significant positive outcomes at the community level, which are believed to be a result of language and cultural education, the Myaamia Center established the Nipwaayoni Acquisition and Assessment Team (NAAT) in 2012 to begin exploring the many factors that have shaped this effort.

The NAAT’s initial directive was to gather observational, interview, and survey data on the impact of the “Myaamia experience” on tribal students attending Miami University, tribal youth attending summer youth camps (eewansaapita), and tribal community engagement. These data are being used to not only chronicle the re-emergence of language and cultural revitalization but to also provide tribal leadership with tools to enhance the tribal experience itself.

To date, preliminary data gathered suggest an impact on increasing tribal engagement, enhanced academic attainment (higher retention and graduation rates), and an increased sense of tribal connection.

Related Publications and Information

"Niila Myaamia (I Am Miami): Identity and Retention of Miami Tribe College Students" in Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, and Practice

National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages

The Mission of the National Breath of Life (BOL) Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages is to help endangered language communities find and utilize their linguistic archival sources from archives located in the D.C. area.

The National Breath of Life Archival Institute developed in Washington DC to allow the extensive archival collections at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives (NAA) of the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and the Library of Congress to be available to tribal communities. First organized in 2011, and originally partnered with the Endangered Language Fund, the current National Breath of Life planning team is spearheaded by the Myaamia Center at Miami University and the Recovering Voices Program of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The National Breath of Life has been supported in part by the National Science Foundation Documenting Endangered Languages Fund grants #1160685 (2011), #1160685 (2013), #1360675 (2015), #1561167 (2017).

Related Publications and Information

National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages

Office Staff

Daryl Baldwin, Executive Director
George Ironstrack, Assistant Director
Kara Strass, Executive Assistant
Jennifer Jones-Scott, Administrative Assistant
Dr. Haley Shea, Myaamia Research Associate
Jerome VilesNational Breath of Life Workshop Coordinator

Language Research

The mission of the Language Research Office is to further our level of knowledge of the Miami-Illinois language. The research undertaken by this office supplements the cultural and educational initiatives of the Myaamia Center, feeding directly into the language and cultural programs undertaken by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. The Language Research Office oversees development of an online learner’s dictionary and the comprehensive ILDA database of the Myaamia language. This latter project entails a full grammatical analysis and comparative annotation of the data in the Jesuit Illinois dictionaries, as well as the digitization and eventual analysis of the later sources on the language, such as the nineteenth and twentieth century materials of Trowbridge, Gatschet, Dunn, and Michelson. Results of the Language Research Office’s research are all made available to the tribal and general public.

Moreover, the Language Research Office will also make the findings of its linguistic research accessible to the scholarly community, specifically to the field of Algonquian studies. This research will be made available by continued print publications pertaining to aspects of the grammar of the Miami-Illinois language, as well as public presentations at the annual Algonquian Conference. The current linguistic research goals of the Language Research Office include an ongoing study of the word order, syntax and morphology of Miami-Illinois, and a full annotated collection of all native texts in the Miami-Illinois language.

Finally, the Language Research Office will make itself available to help or train any members of the Myaamia community who wish to learn the language more extensively, or who wish to learn to do their own linguistic study of Miami-Illinois.

Research and Development

Miami-Illinois Digital Archive (MIDA)

A primary responsibility of the Language Research Office is updating and maintaining the data in Miami-Illinois Digital Archive (MIDA). Currently the entire eighteenth-century LeBoullenger French-Illinois manuscript dictionary is uploaded into MIDA; the Language Research Office is engaged in analyzing this data, with the other Illinois dictionaries expected to be added in the next few years. The ultimate goal of the Office is to enter the entire corpus of the Miami-Illinois language into this database, including the extensive manuscript sources from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with complete linguistic analysis and annotation. The purpose of this project is to make this vast amount of raw data maximally useful for both the Center’s language programs and linguistic research. The project of analyzing all the data in the original manuscripts as they are uploaded into MIDA is expected to continue for several years to come.

Grammatical research of Miami-Illinois

The Language Research Office is also continuing its ongoing linguistic study of Miami-Illinois. This especially includes continued research into the word order, syntax and morphology of Miami-Illinois, as well as the completion of a full annotated collection of all native texts in the Miami-Illinois language from the nineteenth- and twentieth-century manuscript collections.

Office Staff

Dr. David J. Costa, Director
Carole Katz, Language Document Transcriptionist
Dr. Hunter Thompson LockwoodProject Coordinator

Education

The Education office develops educational models, materials, and programs that specifically address the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma’s language and culture educational needs. Key tribal programs that the Education Office assists in the development and implementation of are the Eewansaapita Summer Youth Educational Experience for 10-16 year-olds and the Aatotantaawi Book and Movie Club for citizens of the Miami Tribe. The office also coordinates the Myaamia Heritage Program for Myaamia undergraduates at Miami University who attend the university with the support of the Myaamia Heritage Award. This program includes a three-course series on Contemporary Issues and Sovereignty, History and Cultural Ecology, Language and Culture, and concludes with a two-semester long senior project. The most recent examples of the Education Office’s work can be found on Aacimotaatiiyankwi: A Myaamia Community Blog. The Education office works with the general Miami University community by visiting classrooms and collaborating with professors who incorporate Myaamia language and culture into their courses. Support is also provided for K-12 educators throughout the Midwest by making Myaamia educational materials available to public educators in a variety of ways. Examples of ongoing K-12 outreach are our collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Danker’s preservice teachers and with the Ohio History Connection on their fourth grade textbook: Ohio as America.    

Current initiatives:

Research and Development

Saakaciweeta and Eewansaapita 2021 Curriculum Planning

Saakaciweeta (ages 6-9) and Eewansaapita (ages 10-16) are the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma's summer language and culture educational programs. They make use of core themes that rotate each year that also connect to tribal events throughout the year. The theme for 2021 is ašiihkiwi neehi kiišikwi 'Earth and Sky'. Research and planning related to this year's theme is ongoing. To learn more about these programs visit http://www.miamination.com/eewansaapita.

Telling Our Story: A Living History of the Myaamia

An interdisciplinary curriculum for 4th through 12th grades (public). This site in undergoing continued beta testing and is currently seeking to identify and respond to new educational needs related to Myaamia lifeways. This curriculum can be accessed at Teach Myaamia History.

keehkaapiišamenki: A History of the Allotment of Miami Lands in Indian Territory (Oklahoma)

Progress regarding the research and publications tied to this project can be found in Myaamia Center Publications.

A History of the Allotment of Miami Lands in Kansas

Research and writing for this project was completed in 2018.

Language in the Home Initiative

Research and planning is underway for the launch of a pilot group for greater support of language learning in Myaamia homes.

Office Staff

George Ironstrack, Director
Kristina Fox, Education Assistant
Dr. Cameron Shriver, Myaamia Research Associate

Cultural Ecology

The mission of the Cultural Ecology Office is to explore and interpret a Myaamia ecological perspective. This is accomplished through a variety of research initiatives that reclaim ecological understandings, practices, and knowledge that serve the Myaamia community today.

Myaamia ecological knowledge (MEK) is derived from many sources, including the vast historical and linguistic record, living community members, research outcomes, and directly from re-engagement in ecological practices. These combined efforts continually shape our understanding of our historic and contemporary connection to the many places Myaamia people call home. The outcomes of this work directly contribute to our ongoing educational program development within the tribal community. Youth language and cultural programs are typically embedded with MEK and are encouraged to practice culturally appropriate interactions with the land.

Current research initiatives include:

  • Ethnobotany
  • Traditional foods and diet
  • Corn and other agricultural genetics research for preservation
  • Understanding sustainable environmental practices
  • Lunar calendar development and maintenance
  • Environmental and cultural education

Research and Development

Project updates coming soon.

Office Staff

Daryl Baldwin, Acting Director

Media and Technology

The Media and Technology Office develops the technological means by which research information and materials are distributed to the widespread Myaamia community. It also documents the Miami Tribe’s activities (through photography, videography, and publications of various formats) while assisting with the planning and execution of these activities.

Other ongoing projects include providing information technology support for the Myaamia Center and exploring technological aspects of language learning and culturally informative tools that can be used by indigenous people.

With such varied responsibilities and tasks, the Media and Technology Office interfaces with the other offices of the Myaamia Center and Miami Tribe of Oklahoma in many interesting and often unexpected ways.

Research and Development

Indigenous Languages Digital Archive (ILDA)

The ILDA project aims to create a digital archiving tool that can be used by indigenous communities working to revitalize their language and culture from documentation. The Myaamia Center continues to beta test this system with plans for a future release through the National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages.

In 2020, the Miami-Illinois Digital Archive (MIDA) was succesfully adapted into the ILDA format, where it continues to be extensively used for research and analysis.

Myaamia Dictionary (iOS, Android, Web)

The Myaamia language learning tools are currently in a solid state of function and reliability, but our office continues to improve and enhance these resources.

Distance Learning Support

The Office of Media & Technology works to provide equipment, staff support, and supplemental training to Myaamia center staff, and to educators in the Myaamia community. This allows better engagement with learning audiences wherever they may be located. Production of educational videos, podcasts, and digital publications such as children's books are being produced as part of this effort.

Office Staff

Jonathan Fox, Director
Dr. Douglas Troy, Lead Software Developer
Kaylynn Borror, Graduate Assistant, Computer Science
Gabe Skidmore, Graduate Assistant, Computer Science
Shova Thapa, Graduate Assistant, Computer Science

Miami Tribe Relations

Miami Tribe Relations advances Miami University’s educational partnership with the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. Neepwaantiinki, meaning "learning from each other" in the Myaamia language, aptly describes the foundation of this multi-layered reciprocal partnership.

The Miami Tribe Relations office serves in the following capacities:

  • Connection for potential Myaamia students interested in attending Miami University and ongoing individual and group support for Miami Tribe students at Miami University.
  • Support beyond graduation to Myaamia alumni, encouraging lifetime connections with both Miami University and the Miami Tribe.
  • Acting as a "gateway" for interested individuals to learn more about and/or associate with the Miami Tribe. The intentional plan is to monitor the activities that are in existence as well as any new initiatives that may evolve into future projects with the Miami Tribe.
  • Making the broader University campus aware and proud of the unique relationship with the MIami Tribe.

See Miami Tribe Relations to learn more about for more information about the history of the relationship between the Miami Tribe and the University, including resources for student programming and support and campus activities.

Research and Development

Project updates coming soon.

Office Staff

Kara Strass, Director
Bobbe Burke, Relations Coordinator, Emeritus