Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 2    May 2011

Miami Tribe publishes stories
Condensed by Native Village

Ohio: After European invasion, many Native American tribes lost most -- if not all -- of their history, culture, and language. 

Thanks to a new book, "Myaamia and Peoria: Narratives and Winter Stories," the Miami (Myaamia) Tribe can reclaim the knowledge of their ancestors' traditions.

Myaamia and Peoria
contains 45 Myaamia stories which have been recovered and translated. The stories are printed with the Myaamia language on the left page and an English translation on the right.

But the while the stories are translated, they are not interpreted. Each person must do that on their own.

"There are lessons that you can take from these stories that mean different things to different people," said Daryl Baldwin, director of the Myaamia Project at Miami University in Ohio.  "Those who don't understand the culture don't understand that point."

The entire process for "Myaamia and Peoria: Narratives and Winter Stories" began in 1988 when author David Costa began studying the Miami-Illinois Language. Costa had his B. A. in linguistics from UCLA and used his knowledge to translate the stories recovered from different times in the Miami tribe's history.

5 years later, Daryl began working with David.  Daryl is a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and learned the Myaamia language decades ago.

Because many stories were in partial formats, the men had to dissect them, then piece them together.  Daryl soon began studying linguistics the University of Montana.

"In order for me to utilize David's linguistics work, I needed a background in linguistics," Daryl said. "David would e-mail me and ask `What do you think of that sentence?' We are a very small group of people who can even have that conversation about the language."

The men also worked closely with the Miami Tribe of Indiana and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. All hope the
stories will educate and enlighten future generations about Myaamia culture, people, and the tribe.

"Reviving our language and culture is a process of historical mending, it is not glorified work...and it is very important work to secure our future," Daryl said. "When you have access to that ancestral thought world ? you can perceive things in a way that reflect one's culture and that is a very different experience."

Daryl said the collection is not set in stone and hopes future generations will add to the pre-existing Myaamia stories.

"One of the things our ancestors did was they started to create new stories," he said. "Some stories are from the 1800s and include stories about settlers."

Myaamia and Peoria: Narratives and Winter Stories is published by the Myaamia Project, a joint effort by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami [of Ohio] U. Their mission is to preserve, promote, and research Miami Nation history, culture, and language.

About 200 people now speak the Myaamia language, and families are passing it along to their children.

Myaamia Project?

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