Myaamia Ribbonwork is curated in the voice of Myaamiaki ‘Miami Indian’ people. Our nation, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, is centered in northeast Oklahoma but we have ongoing connections to our historic homelands in the Lower Great Lakes region. Due to our history of forced removal and dislocation, our 5,500 Myaamia ‘Miami’ citizens live in all fifty states.
peepankišaapiikahkia eehkwaatamenki ‘Myaamia ribbonwork’ is an artform based on the layering, cutting, folding and sewing of ribbons to produce beautiful and complex geometric designs. Since time immemorial, we have decorated our clothes and bodies using variations on these geometric patterns. These designs are personally pleasing and reflective of our community traditions, stories and beliefs. Over the long span of our history, Myaamia people have altered these visual expressions of our culture in terms of shape and material.
This exhibition is one outcome of over twenty-five years of Myaamia community-driven work to reclaim and renew our practice of ribbonwork. It is centered on a Myaamia understanding of waawaahsinaakwahki ‘to shimmer,’ a central visual effect sought out by our ribbonwork artists. The exhibition explores how ribbonwork is produced; what it has meant for us to temporarily lose possession of our artistic cultural heritage; the joy of discovery and reconnecting with our cultural heritage objects and the techniques necessary to produce them.