MIAMI, Okla. - Miami University's first home hockey series of the spring semester will celebrate the partnership between the university and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. Tribe leaders and assistant athletic director Darrell Hallberg announced the event Friday at this year's annual Winter Gathering of the tribe.
Miami will face the Omaha Mavericks on the ice Feb. 8 and 9 during "Celebrating Miami: Tribe and University."
The athletic department worked with the Myaamia Center -- the tribe's on-campus research, education and outreach initiative -- and the Miami Tribe to make the game educational and interactive. They hope to use the event to raise awareness about the unique relationship between the university and the tribe. Planning for the event began in fall 2018, although the idea emerged when Chief Douglas Lankford visited the campus last summer, said Hallberg.
"It's a celebration. It really is," Hallberg said. "It's bringing the groups back together."
The event is the latest in a decades-long history of the university and the Miami Tribe strengthening their relationship. It is a continuation of efforts by the Miami athletic department to incorporate ties to the tribe in what Bobbe Burke, coordinator of Miami Tribe relations at the Myaamia Center, called a "re-engagement."
"It's important to showcase in the right light and that's what we're trying to do," Hallberg said.
Throughout the fall semester, the Miami Heritage Logo (MHL), a symbol signifying the connection between university and tribe, was printed on tickets to every Miami athletic event, all sports schedule cards and all posters, Lindsay Sparks, assistant athletic director of marketing and fan engagement at Miami, said.
Julie Olds, cultural resources officer of the Miami Tribe, designed a shirt given to all student-athletes and athletic staff at Miami last fall. She designed another shirt for the upcoming hockey night to give to the players. The shirt, which bears the MHL as well as the Myaamia phrase for "The Brotherhood," wiicihsaantioni, will also be given as a prize to students throughout the game.
The MHL will also be on the official pucks used in the game -- something Chief Lankford initially joked about, but the athletic department made a reality. Myaamia students will deliver the puck at the Friday game, and Chief Lankford will do so on Saturday. More than 100 custom pucks were made, some of which will be given to members of the tribe who are special guests.
A bingo card will be given out at the game entrance. Attendees will be able to fill their cards by doing things related to the Myaamia in order to win a t-shirt or puck. Those activities include traditional Myaamia games like the moccasin game, a guessing game involving colored marbles hidden under mats, and seenseewinki, or the plum stone game, a game of chance where players rack up points based on the colors and symbols of pieces tossed in a bowl. At halftime and during breaks, the big screens will showcase Myaamia students currently attending Miami.
"Anywhere that we can incorporate the Myaamia students, the relationship and the tribe during in-game and pre-game, we will," Sparks said.
Myaamia spiritwear will be available at the merchandise cart, and a Myaamia shirt will be the specially-priced item of the day, Burke said.
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The tribe's Business Committee, which includes Lankford, Olds and other tribe leaders, will attend the game. Miami Tribe members will receive discounted tickets.
If the event goes well, similar events could be expanded to other sports. Sparks said that the athletic department is currently discussing ways to do this.
"I think athletics is keen on this, and they want to keep it going," Burke said.