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Melody Schubert

The Miami Indians Pride in Heritage Overcomes Lack of Recognition
By Melody Schubert
Jun 22, 2004 - 5:49:00 PM

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Often when we think of Native Americans or American Indians we may picture a typical view of an Indian man in a loincloth riding bare back on a painted horse. Although Native Americans may represent a small percentage of the U.S. population they have a rich culture unlike any other. Within the hundreds of Native American groups exist a great diversity of traditional spiritual and cultural practices that continue today.

Like many cultures, Native Americans have also struggled against discrimination. Today, one might say that Americanís are viewed as savages by some around the world. We know different, but recent events still cast a shadow across our country. In spite of this shadow Americanís are recognized as a people of strength and the courage to overcome adversity. This is not true for everyone in our country though. One Native America group continues to struggle for recognition.

The Miami Indians were among several Native American Indians in the Great Lakes area. On their journey north the Delaware and Miami tribes passed through the heart of Indiana. They traded furs obtained while hunting on the land they owned, which included portions of Morgan County in Indiana before they relinquished the land to the United States in 1818. The U.S Army drove many Miami Indians out of Indiana during 1846. Some migrated to Kansas before being transplanted to Oklahoma after the Civil War, but many descendants of the Miami tribe live in Indiana today.

The Miami tribe has struggled throughout Indianaís history to maintain their independence and land. The pen proved to be mightier than the sword though in 1897 when the Assistant Attorney General terminated their tribal status. This was an attempt to eliminate tribal governments east of the Mississippi. The government taxed tribes who still owned land and later forced many to sell their remaining reservation lands to cover their debts.

They may have succeeded in stripping the Miami tribe of their land and recognition, but not their pride in their heritage. Their rich history includes the victories of Little Turtle who lead the Miami people and other tribes in a battle to preserve their lands in the Northwest Territory. An area that included the present day states of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and portions of Minnesota.

During 1790-1791 Little Turtle won against United States forces, but was finally defeated in 1794 by General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Afterwards Little Turtle and other Indian tribes signed the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which relinquished many of the Native American lands in the Territory to the United States.

The Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana was organized in 1937 after the creation of the Passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. While many attempts have been made to regain federal status only the Miami tribe of Oklahoma are recognized officially to this day. In 1992 they received another refusal though evidence proved thousands of Miami descendents live in the Indiana counties of Allen, Huntington, and Miami. Those tribes that are recognized by the government are entitled to benefits, which have been denied to the Miami Indians, such as government funds and compensation for taxes and land taken in the past. The Miami have Tribal offices in Peru, Indiana, and have continued to maintain their traditions and a governing body throughout these hardships.

The Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana has struggled with the government since 1909 to restore tribal rights. With the help of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) this effort continues today. To find current case updates handled by Native American Rights Fund go to: www.narf.org/cases/.

Today the public can enjoy storytelling and unique demonstrations by descendants of the Miami Indians at the Myaamia Ahki, a Miami Nation garden, located in Peru, Indiana. The rich traditions of the Miami Indians can also be discovered at the annual Mihshihkinaahkwa Powwow the Miami Nation of Indiana holds over the weekend in August at Morsches Park, in Columbia City, Indiana. This year the Mihshihkinaahkwa Pow-wow scheduled August 9th - 10th will featuring Douglas Bluefeather, a Nammy Award Winning Flute Player, who will perform at Saturday evening's break, and on Sunday before the powwow.

Native Americans from many nations will gather at the traditional powwow to celebrate their heritage with dance and song, and honor those who came before them. To find out more about this event contact: The Powwow Committee in care of The Whitley County Historical Society, 108 West Jefferson, Columbia City, Indiana 46725 or send an email to: miamipowwow@kconline.com.

The Miami Indians of Indiana continue to exist as a nation today celebrating their heritage and reaching out to its many members. If you would like to embrace the traditions and heritage of the Miami Indians you may contact them at their headquarters located in Peru, Indiana. Contact the Miami Nation of Indians, P.O. Box 41, Peru, Indiana 46970, Telephone: (765) 473-9631 or Toll Free at 1-800-253-3578, Paul Strack, Chief. The Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana Official Home Page contains further information on Federal Recognition. Visit www.indianamiamis.org/ or to find information on Miami
History, Their Language, Community Programs, and Genealogy resources visit www.geocities.com/RainForest/7156/easthome.html.


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