Miami Tribe: Origin, History, And Culture

The Miami Tribe is a Native American nation from the Great Lakes region of the United States. 

They primarily use one of the Algonquian languages and are known to be a part of the Great Lake tribes. This tribe occupied the region now known as the name Indiana, the western part of Ohio, and southwest Michigan. 

However, unlike anyone would guess, Miami is not named after the Miami tribe but the Miami river. Let’s take a look at their origin, culture, and history to learn more. 

The Miami Tribe of Oklohoma

Miami Tribe Origin

Miami used to call themselves the Twightee, which refers to the sandhill crane, their sacred bird. The name, however, is an autonym of Miami-Illinois in their Algonquian language. However, according to some Miamis, this autonym was only used by other tribes to refer to them.

We identify Mississippian cultures by their maize agricultural patterns, trades, network, social organizations, settlement patterns, etc. Here, the Miami people were known for their hunting skills and related activities.

Early traces of the Miami tribe hint at them being a part of the Fischer tradition among the Mississippi culture. Miami tribe history is recorded by various historians and accounts of people who chanced upon them.

Their history mainly revolves around agriculture, wars, colonialization, and dislocations. So, here is a brief recollection of the Miami tribe’s history and their influence on the world around them.

Miami Tribe History

Today, you can find the Miami Tribe mainly in the North-Eastern regions of the state of Oklahoma. This strange dislocation reflects the endless number of forced removals they faced throughout the years.

This tribe is no longer found in their homelands like Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. According to them, Miami tribe history can be traced back to a place named Saakiiweeyoni, which was their original homeland.

This ancestral land is where the St. Joseph’s river joins Lake Michigan. However, social disruptions soon followed, and the scenario completely flipped.

Dislocation from the homeland

Hailing from the Fischer and Huber cultures, Miami and others were under the Iroquois raids’ threat in the late 1660s. This threat pushed them to leave their homelands and shift to Mississippi’s western region along with the other people of Illinois. 

Meanwhile, a part of Miami joined another displaced community near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Later in the 1680s, Miami finally started moving in huge numbers back to the south of Lake Michigan.

By the end of 1750, significant numbers of Miami people lived in cities today known as Fort Wayne, Vincennes, and Lafayette.

Homeland to the war front

Around the mid-17th century, Miami could be found near Wabash and Maumee rivers. These places are now known as northern Indiana and Ohio. However, as a cumulative effect of wars between European settlers, the Iriquois, and other tribes, Miami society began to break down.

The new settlement of Miami eroded as their lands were hunting grounds for outsiders like European settlers. Enormous social disruptions, the spread of European diseases, and other problems followed, destabilizing Miami society.

The route to Oklahoma

With wars raging, the Miami people allied with the British during the American Revolution. The Greenville Treaty signed in 1795 restored order, but by 1820, most Miamis no longer owned their land in America. 

There was a large-scale selling out of lands to American settlers while they went off to Reservations in Missouri. A massive number of Miami were then forced to dislocate from Indiana to Kansas in the year 1846. 

However, to reunite with their Miami and Illinois people, they moved to Oklahoma at last.  

Miami Indian Culture

Coming to the Miami Indian Culture, here are a few facts about the Miami people highlighting the same.

Means of living

Horticulture and hunting form the basis of the Miami Tribe’s livelihood. They grow crops like maize, pumpkins, squash, beans, tobacco, and melons using the slash and burn techniques. Also, they collect and use fruits and nuts from the nearby areas, while deer and bison are their major sources of meat. 

Today you can find this tribe well-fitting the roles of farmers, business people, and factory workers. Owing to the European trade war’s influence, the fur trade is also common in the Miami Indian culture. You can also find the Miami Tribe trading in raw materials like stone, unusual chert, copper, and obsidian.

Family structures

Miami Indian Culture predominantly follows monogamous marriage systems. However, polygamy is also accepted. They are found to maintain a nuclear family level, and there is a culture of forming independent families after marriage. 

Divorces are quite common and well accepted among the Miamis. They are not bound by any formal order of inheritance, while adoption is also well-accepted to fill the dead person’s place.

Religious beliefs

Miami’s religious beliefs are centered around the powerful spirits known as Manitous. They believe that these spirits roam about the world and change their form from humans to animals and others. 

Miami Indian culture believes that contacting one such Manitou in their dreams makes them their guardian spirit. Also, a Manitou gives power in exchange for respect and sacrifices as well.

Miami fashion and culture

Miami originally wore the dyed skin of bison and was known to be covered in tattoos from head to toe. They made use of porcupine quilts along with paints to decorate their apparel and their footwear. 

This tribe also actively engages in dance and music of their own uniquely developed style. Miami Tribe facts also show that that other than entertainment, dance was their way of showing respect to a Manitou. 

Final takeaways

All these Miami Tribe facts display a culture rich and full of life. Like many other tribes, this tribe had a tumultuous history due to American oppression. They lost their homeland, voice, and places of temporary respite many times in the past. 

But they united again to form the strongest American-Indian tribe to originate in Ohio. Today they stand tall with their rich history and culture along with full-fledged businesses and trades to support themselves.

Alan Behrens

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