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A Tribe Named Miami, A Surveyor's Stake, A Town Named Oxford

Artist Eugene Brown’s A Tribe Named Miami, A Surveyor’s Stake, A Town Named Oxford, is a cast bronze sculpture located in the Miami University Art Museum Sculpture Park. Installed in 2008, this sculpture aims to strengthen the relationship between Miami University and the Myaamia Tribe, an indigenous population of the region. As explained in the Miami University Sculpture Park Viewing Guide, the sculpture represents an intersection of Miami with the land it was built on, as well as a connector between the past, present and future. This initiative to revitalize the ties to Miami culture in 2008 is another branch in Miami’s ongoing initiative to more adequately honor its borrowed name. In 1997, Miami University changed their mascot from the offensive slur of “Redskins” to “Redhawks”. And additional effort made was the introduction of a new logo for Miami. The “Myaamia Heritage Logo” references Myaamia ribbonwork, a popular art form within the culture.

The sculpture itself was made by Myaamia tribe member Eugene Brown (1926-2017). Brown was born in Quapaw, Oklahoma and was a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. He was dedicated to keeping the Miami culture alive and had said “I want to preserve American Indian culture. If just one generation keeps it and doesn't pass it on, then it is lost”. While he passed away in 2017, his work helps to simultaneously keep both his and his tribes memory alive. His sculpture itself features natural elements that were valued in the Myaamia culture, such as a loon (a type of bird), a Sandhill crane and a turtle all native species to the region they resided in. Surrounding the animals are a series of cattails, a type of plant that often is found growing on the edges of marshes and lakes. These culturally significant components of the sculpture accompanied with the bold, rich colors of jet black, deep red and a sky blue make for a sculpture that effectively captures the essence of the Myaamia people and culture. Miami University is located on a region of land where Myaamia people used to reside. This geographical connection is what serves as a link to the university. Gifted by Dr. Joseph Leonard, the son of late Myaamia Chief, Floyd of the Leonard, A Tribe Named Miami, A Surveyor's Stake, A Town Named Oxford helps play a role in the building of an ongoing, strengthened relationship between the tribe and university, without erasing the complicated history of the tribe influenced by colonialism and confiscation of space and place.

Wicks-Jeralyn, Robert. "Eugene Vincent Brown's Obituary on Star-Telegram." Legacy.com. Accessed May 11, 2018. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dfw/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=185794498.