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New bus wrap design in Oxford 'reminds people the Miami Tribe is from this land and still here'

BCRTA Myaamia Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Scott Kissell
BCRTA Myaamia Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

A bus on Miami University's campus has a new, special design that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the relationship between the school and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

The Miami language was almost lost in the 1980s when the last native speakers died. The tribe used 300 years of documentation on its language to reteach it to their citizens, and now hundreds of tribal citizens use their language daily.

Much of the tribe's work to reclaim and teach its language has been done at the Myaamia Center — the research and student education program located on Miami University's campus in Oxford.

Kara Strass works at the center as director of Miami Tribe relations and hopes the bus wrap will be like a moving billboard. Strass is a citizen of the Miami Tribe and said she loves when people show an interest in her language.

"The first word on the one side is 'aya' it just means hello or greeting. On the other side, the word is 'neepwaantiinki,' which means learning from each other,” Strass said. “This is a word that was chosen to represent why we have this relationship between the tribe and the university. It's because we both are able to learn from each other and accomplish more together than we could on our own."

Miami University currently has 44 enrolled students who are citizens of the Miami Tribe.

Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.
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Chris Welter