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Miami U reflects on 175th anniversary of Myaamia tribe’s removal

Grace Lankford, 20, a junior at Miami University, carries the flag of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma during a Day of Reflection ceremony on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. A ceremony was hosted to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Myaamia Tribe that was forcibly removed from their land.

OXFORD, Ohio – Overcome with emotion, Chief Douglas Lankford of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma struggled to get through his speech Monday morning as he reflected on the forced removal of his ancestors from their homelands 175 years ago.

“We shudder to imagine the scenes. The tears and cries. The grasping of handfuls of dirt," Lankford said. "Being forced to leave our dear homes.” 

Miami University classes were likely in session when the canal boats carrying the unwilling travelers passed near campus, just 13 miles away, on Oct. 11, 1846, he said.

Chief Douglas Lankford, of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, gives a speech during a Day of Reflection ceremony on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. A ceremony was hosted to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Myaamia Tribe that was forcibly removed from their land.

"It is impossible to separate the history of Miami University from the trauma the Myaamia people have endured," student body president Madelyn Jett said Monday. Monday also was Indigenous Peoples Day, which honors Native American history and culture and falls on the calendar the same day as Columbus Day.

The university itself could only be founded in 1806 after the Treaty of Greenville was signed in 1795 and the Myaamia peoples' land was ceded to the U.S. government. President Andrew Jackson later signed into law the Indian Removal Act, authorizing a president to relocate native tribes to lands west of the Mississippi River. 


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