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Native Languages of the Americas: Illinois-Miami (Maumee, Myamia, Twightwee)

Language: Miami and Illinois are dialects of the same Algonquian language, spoken in Indiana and later Oklahoma. Though no native speakers of the language remain, language revival efforts are ongoing, and children from both the Miami and Peoria nations are learning to speak their ancestral language again. Miami-Illinois is a polysynthetic language with complex verb morphology and fairly free word order.

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People: Though the Illinois and Miami Indians speak the same language and are historical allies, they have always considered themselves politically distinct. Today the Miami (Maumee or Myaamia, also called Twightwee or Twatwa by some of their neighbors) live in two groups, one of about 2000 Miami in Oklahoma and one of about 6000 in Indiana. These two groups consider themselves the same people, but only the Oklahoma tribe is recognized by the American government. There are also about 1000 Illinois Indians (primarily Peoria and Kaskaskia) living in Oklahoma today.

History: The Miami and Illinois Indians were very close relatives with nearly identical culture and language, but distinct political affiliation. Both nations were really loose confederations of several independent tribes, so perhaps there was some political rift which caused some tribes to group together as Miami and some as Illini. The Illini tribe was the more powerful of the two, until an Illinois man murdered the controversial but much-loved Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa Tribe; then almost every tribe of the central US except their kin the Miami turned on the Illini in a vengeful war that left only a few hundred survivors, mostly women and children. The Miami, meanwhile, were trying to fight off attempts by the young United States to drive them from their Ohio lands. With the alliance of the Shawnee and the generalship of the formidable Miami chief Little Turtle, they won two decisive victories against the Americans, but were eventually defeated. Some of the survivors were relocated to Oklahoma, while others remained in Indiana but were stripped of their treaty rights. The Indiana Miami remain unrecognized by the government (and dispossessed of their land) today.

Miami-Illinois Language Resources
Illinois-Miami language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Miami Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Miami tribe past and present.

Miami Legends
Introduction to Miami Indian mythology.

Miami Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Miamis, their language and culture.

Illinois Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Illini tribe past and present.

Illini Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to frequently asked questions about the Illinois Indians, their language and culture.

Illini Legends
Introduction to Illinois Indian mythology.

Miami-Illinois Language Resources

Our Online Miami-Illinois Language Materials

Miami-Illinois Vocabulary:
    List of vocabulary words in the Miami-Illinois language, with comparison to words in other Algonquian languages.
Miami-Illinois Pronunciation Guide:
    How to pronounce Miami-Illinois words.
Miami-Illinois Animal Words:
    Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Miami-Illinois language.
Miami-Illinois Body Parts:
    Online and printable worksheets showing parts of the body in Miami-Illinois.
Miami-Illinois Colors:
    Worksheet showing color words in Miami-Illinois.
Miami-Illinois Numbers:
    Worksheet showing how to count in Miami-Illinois.
Miami-Illinois Animate Nouns:
    Lesson on Miami-Illinois animate and inanimate nouns.
Miami-Illinois Possession:
    Lesson on the use of Miami-Illinois possessive prefixes.

Illinois-Miami Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources

Our Miami Language:
    Miami language CD for sale
Handy's Vocabulary of Miami:
    Small Miami dictionary for sale.
The Miami-Illinois Language * Elements of a Miami-Illinois Grammar:
    Miami-Illinois linguistics books for sale
American Indian Language Dictionaries:
    Miami-Illinois and other Native American dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Miami-Illinois Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Miami Language:
    Language overview from the Miami Nation, with a phrasebook, word games, and language contacts
Illinois Language:
    Information about the Illinois-Miami language including pronunciation and lists of Illinois words.
Miami Orthography:
    Introduction to Miami-Illinois spelling and pronunciation.
Language of the Miami:
    Overview of the Miami language with historical information and a list of Miami words and phrases
Hello Oklahoma: Miami-Peoria Tribe:
    Miami alphabet, greeting, and sample text.
Illinois Language Tree:
    Theories about Illinois/Miami language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Illinois Language Structures:
    Illinois linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Literature and Texts in the Illinois-Miami Language

Illinois Indian Prayers * Miami-Wea Lord's Prayer * Language Museum: Miami:
    Translations of Christian prayers into the Illinois-Miami language.

Illinois-Miami Language Preservation and Usage

Miami Nation of Indiana Language Committee:
    Dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of Miami
The Myaamia Project:
    Miami language revival
Miami Language:
    Demographic information about Miami-Illinois

Illinois-Miami Proper Names

Illinois Place Names:
    American placenames in the Illinois-Miami language
Miami Indian Names:
    Historical archive of Miami names
American Indian Animal Names:
    Our new fundraiser offering names for dogs and horses in Native American languages (including Miami-Illinois).

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Additional Resources, Links, and References

  Wikipedia: Miami:
  Encyclopedia articles on the Miami language.
  La Lengua Miami-Illinois:
  Article on the Miami-Illinois language in Spanish. With a language map.
  Miami-Illinois Language:
  Miami-Illinois links.
  Miami Tribe: * Illini Tribe:
  Miami and Illini Indian books.

Learn more about the Miami Indian tribe and the Illini
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