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Sunday, 05 May 2013 14:06

The Myaamia Report

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From August 2009 I took up a position as Wiepking Distinguished Professor at the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio. I was working in three Departments - Architecture, Educational Leadership and Psychology. In the first semester, I worked with Bill Stiles on a project involving twelve senior Psychology students in a 3 credit Capstone Course: Voices of Native Americans. The intent was to develop a collaborative research project with the Myaamia Tribe of Oklahoma who had once been the original inhabitants of the Oxford area before their forced removal at gunpoint in 1846. The University in Oxford was named after them and stands on land that they once owned. The intended research was hoped to map the ways in which the Myaamia reconcile the differing voices in their mental world - the American vs. the Indian voices, for instance. As it turned out the project unfolded in ways very different from those anticipated, although the final course of the project was, in hindsight very predictable.

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 Since we were not invited by the Myaamia, a great deal of the time was spent gaining their trust prior to the determination of an actual collaborative research enterprise that might be in their own interests. The vehicle for this trust-building was the design and construction of an installation in the Miami University's Tunnel of Oppression. This installation depicted the history of oppression that had been experienced by the Myaamia in the numerous attacks on their peaceful villages, the destruction of their food sources and crops, their forced relocation (twice), the splitting up of the tribe, the abduction of their children, the eradication of their language and their relentless survival into the present.

What follows is the report on that class project, with reflective thoughts from both the instructors and the students, and a detailed description of the Tunnel of Oppression installation.

 

To download the PDF click here

 

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