Developing the Myaamia Heritage Logo

[INSTRUMENTAL BACKGROUND MUSIC] ALYSE CAPACCIO: aya! I am Alyse Capaccio, and I’m one of the designers who worked on the Myaamia Heritage Logo. When we started working on the Myaamia Heritage Logo, our goal was to create a symbol that represented the relationship between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University. This relationship is really unique, and it
spans over four decades, and it’s built on a foundation of trust, respect, and a commitment to education. (ALYSE CAPACCIO): Our goals for this mark were to make something that resonates with both the University and the Miami Tribe communities, while not being stereotypical or appropriating the Tribe’s culture. It also had to meet some logistical requirements. We envisioned the mark we created would be used on print and digital materials as well as merchandise. To do this, the mark needed to be simple enough
to be embroidered and reproduced on a small scale, and it needed to be flexible enough
to be turned into a system that could be used creatively in a variety of ways: more of a
brand than just a logo. This mark was the result of serious collaboration. It was important to get it right, and many
voices went into this to make sure we stayed on track. The Myaamia Center provided a ton of valuable
insight and facilitated our communication with the team from the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. There was also a team at Miami in University
Communications and Marketing. I worked most closely with Julie Olds, the
Cultural Resource Officer for the Tribe. Julie was the designer on the Tribe side, and I was
the designer on the University side. We went back and forth for about a year working
on this mark. I think Julie and I were a great pair. She pushed really hard to pack meaning and symbolism into the mark, while I was an advocate for simplicity. It was definitely a challenge to create a
symbol that resonated with two different cultures over 600 miles apart. We communicated online and over the phone. As we passed the symbol back and forth, it
slowly was transformed into something that resonated with both the Tribe and the University,
and represented our partnership. Julie and the Tribe were really drawn to the
symbolism of a fire. I didn’t understand it at first, but it
made a lot of sense when she explained it. Fires, like relationships, need to be tended. Both sides of the relationship need to tend
the fire. A well-tended fire can burn on forever, but
a fire left untended will burn out quickly. The relationship between the Tribe and the
University has burned really brightly because of the efforts put in on both sides, and with
sustained commitment it can grow even brighter! As we brainstormed other symbols that would
show the connection between the Tribe and the University, my sketchbook filled with
a variety of different imagery: cranes, redhawks, turtles, feathers, patterns, trees. Whatever imagery we went with, specificity
was very important. We wanted a symbol that didn’t paint all
Native Americans with a broad brush. The symbol had to be something that was authentic to the Myaamia culture, but did not appropriate the Tribe’s culture. To accomplish this, we had to ensure that
the meaning behind the symbol was our central focus. Through the joint development of the symbol with the Tribe, we were able to graphically depict how both the Tribe and the University
see the relationship in a way that make both proud. The imagery of ribbonwork came up early on in the process. Ribbonwork is a traditional Myaamia art form where geometric patterns are created by cutting ribbons and sewing them in layers. Many tribes do ribbonwork, but the style of ribbonwork–the colors and patterns used–varies from tribe to tribe. Ribbonwork was perfect because it’s specific to the Miami Tribe and recognizable to Tribe members. Red, black, and white are common colors in Myaamia ribbonwork, which work well with the Miami University brand. It could be simplified down to a few shapes. It IS a flexible system and looks great repeated
as a pattern. The University and the Tribe both loved the idea of using ribbonwork. We created a new pattern inspired by ribbonwork
rather than using an exact copy of a traditional Myaamia ribbonwork pattern, since the mark would be co-owned by the University, and it wouldn’t be right for the University to co-own something that is a part of the Tribe’s cultural imagery. This is the final symbol we created. It’s called the Myaamia Heritage Logo. We created a style guide and some secondary
marks to go along with this symbol. It’s been used in print materials, online,
and was the basis for the Myaamia Heritage Collection–a line of merchandise. The proceeds from the Myaamia Heritage Collection
are donated to a scholarship fund for Miami Tribe students attending Miami University. You can see the system is flexible and has
already been used in a lot of ways by a variety of different designers. It’s really cool that the Myaamia Heritage
Logo trademark is actually co-owned by the University and the Tribe, which is really
unique for a symbol like this. Every piece that this symbol is printed on
has to be approved by both parties. As I already mentioned, the Myaamia Heritage
Logo is inspired by Myaamia ribbonwork. The left diamond represents The Miami Tribe. The right diamond represents Miami University. The center diamond is where they come together. It means shared vision and collaboration. Inside the center diamond is a red circle–a
fire–that is a symbol of the warmth of the partnership and the shared responsibility
and commitment it takes to “tend the fire” of the relationship. The color black stands for depth of time,
the Tribe’s deep ties to their historical homelands, where Miami University stands today– respect and cultural wisdom that has been accumulated over time. Red is for responsibility, sacrifice, and
a commitment to gain and share knowledge. And the white represents shared clarity of
vision, cooperation, and respectful learning from each other. Before starting work on this logo, I didn’t
really know much about the Miami Tribe, and I’m really thankful for the patience from
the Miami Tribe and the Myaamia Center as I learned and I made mistakes throughout the process. The process of creating this logo is a really great example of the ways that the University and the Tribe tend the fire of the relationship, and it’s an awesome example of learning from each other and of collaboration. [MUSIC FADES OUT]

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