March 29, 2008

The Myaamia Project

Miami University helps Miami Tribe reclaim languageKelsey Young--like many other members of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma--could not understand her tribe's language. The Myaamia Project supported by the tribe and Miami University is changing that--helping the tribe reclaim and keep its language and culture alive.

A long-standing relationship between the Miami tribe and its namesake university helped lead to a tribal initiative in 2001 creating the Myaamia Project to help preserve the language, culture and history of the small, non-reservation tribe. The word Miami is derived from the tribe's original Myaamia name. A conference Saturday at the university in Oxford, about 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati, will highlight the project's latest language revival and educational efforts.

The conference will highlight project efforts such as the April debut of an online version of the Miami dictionary. Myaamia Project Director Daryl Baldwin says the online version will make the dictionary more accessible to tribal members and others and allow people to hear pronunciations.

There also will be a preview of a video showing challenges the small community has faced in reclaiming a language whose last fluent speakers died in the early 1960s.

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