About Aacimwahkionkonci

Aacimwahkionkonci ‘Stories from the Land’ was formalized as a project in the Myaamia Center in 2017, building on years of tribally-directed research into Myaamia land ownership in Myaamionki—Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Aacimwahkionkonci aims to help us understand, and in turn tell, the history of the complex legal patchwork that has come to define Myaamionki ‘the land of the Miamis.’

Land is at the heart of this project, not merely in the sense of possession or control—although these are important—but as a source for human stories relating to occupancy, identity, and use over time. When treaty-making with the new United States began for the Myaamia people in 1795, extensive land loss forced cultural and economic changes. Over two generations, a series of U.S.-Myaamia treaties transferred most Myaamia territories into the hands of the U.S., leaving the Myaamia people with fewer land-based resources. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Myaamia people retained a checkerboard of land holdings allotted to them through the treaty making process. This patchwork of land rights tore at the fabric of subsistence and communal living, forcing new realities on the community and its leadership. Myaamia chiefs began to understand the political power of land ownership and, at least for a time, exercised their land rights as a means of resisting removal by the U.S. government from their historical homelands in the lower Great Lakes.

However, beginning with the removal in 1846 and continuing through the 1870s, Myaamia people migrated (often unwillingly) to what is now Kansas; soon thereafter, much of the community was again removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) by the late 1870s. In each place, allotment—the division of communal territory into distinct, individual parcels—led to splinters in the community itself. With its government seat in Oklahoma, hundreds of miles away from their historical homelands in the southern Great Lakes, the Miami Tribe began yet another chapter in creating a new home. It would take many years for the Tribe to begin acquiring communal lands in Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana and Ohio, to begin replacing what was lost, and the process is viewed as vital to rebuilding their/our tribal nation. It has taken many generations to begin learning how to reconnect to the places of the past and to strengthen kinship ties to the many Myaamia families who were left behind during the two forced relocations. Central to this effort to “reconnect” is the Miami Tribe’s current efforts in language and cultural revitalization. The Aacimwahkionkonci Project directly contributes to these broader efforts at community and cultural revitalization.

Research for the Aacimwahkionkonci Project began in 2012 through a grant obtained by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma from the Historic Preservation Grants Division of the National Park Service (NPS) (#40-11-NA-4054). This first grant focused on defining the Miami Tribal allotments in Ottawa County, Oklahoma and included extensive genealogical information on each of the allottees. Then in 2014 a second NPS grant was obtained by the Miami Tribe (#40-09-NA-4047) to expand this research to include allotment data from the mid-19th century Miami Reserve in eastern Kansas. This NPS-supported research for Kansas and Oklahoma continued until its completion in 2017. In this phase, Meghan Dorey (Myaamia Heritage Musem and Archive) and George Ironstrack (Myaamia Center) collected and synthesized important historical and biographical information, with allotment mapping accomplished by Bradford Kasberg.

Additionally, from 2016 to 2019 the Miami Tribe’s Cultural Resources Office and the Myaamia Center co-supported a third phase of research including historic Miami land holdings in Indiana and Ohio from the treaty era of the 18th and 19th centuries. This phase was co-directed by Doug Peconge, Miami Tribe Assistant Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and Community Programming Manager, and Cam Shriver, Historian at Miami University’s Myaamia Center. This phase of Indiana- and Ohio-based research focused on gathering transfer deeds for all known treaty allotments in the historic homelands and concluded the final phase of research for this project. Collectively, this large corpus of research and digitized archival material includes data from all three Miami Tribe territories from 1795 through the second relocation in the 1870s up until the early 20th century. We have come to view Aacimwahkionkonci as a means to help us analyze the history of Myaamia lands, but also as a tool for the community to connect to their stories, their lands, and each other.

As of 2019, Aacimwahkionkonci has been bolstered by support from the National Endownment for the Humanities (NEH) Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Grant.

Important mapping, GIS, and cultural research has been provided by undergraduate and graduate students Joshua Sutterfield, Brett Governanti, Rory Kaip, John Bickers, and Bradford Kasberg. An undergraduate team of geographers guided by MU GIS coordinator Robbyn Abbitt (GEO 442 Spring 2018 Austin Jenkins, Erin Dodd, Cooper Mason, and Maria Sanchez-Luna ) aided in the technical aspects of computer mapping, while a year-long computer science team under Doug Troy’s direction (CSE 448-449 2018-2019 Jack Bulan, Will Luffey, Ian Price, and Garrett Andrews) built the initial website’s infrastructure. Graduate students Brooke Ecklar (Geography) and Gabe Skidmore (Electrical & Computer Engineering) standardized the GIS data and website, respectively.

Julie Olds, Cultural Resources Officer, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
Douglas Peconge, Tribal GIS Coordinator, Myaamia Center & Cultural Resources Office, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma

Mapping Team
Robbyn J.F. Abbitt, GIS Coordinator/GISci Certificate Advisor, Department of Geography, Miami University
Douglas Peconge, Tribal GIS Coordinator, Myaamia Center & Cultural Resources Office, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
Brooke Ecklar, Graduate Assistant, Department of Geography, Miami University (2019-2020)
Jessica Stoyko, Graduate Assistant, Department of Geography, Miami University (2020-2022)
Owen Larson, Graduate Assistant, Department of Geography, Miami University (2020-2022)

Technology Development Team
Douglas Troy, Myaamia Center
Jonathan Fox, Director, Office of Media and Technology, Myaamia Center
Gabe Skidmore, Graduate Assistant, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Miami University (2019-2021)

Research Team
Cameron Shriver, Myaamia Center Research Associate, Miami University
George Ironstrack, Miami Tribal Historian & Director of Office of Education, Myaamia Center

Archives Management Team
Aaron Shrimplin, Associate Dean of Libraries, Enterprise Services, Miami University
Alia Wegner, Digital Collections Librarian, Miami University
Stella Beerman, Undergraduate Student, Miami University