FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) – An American Indian tribe that was forced to relocate from Indiana in the mid-19th century has announced plans to open an extension office in Fort Wayne to provide historic preservation consulting and cultural programming in the tribe’s ancestral homeland.

Chief Douglas Lankford and other leaders of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma are scheduled to visit Fort Wayne on Friday to welcome community members to the tribe’s first cultural resources extension office, The News-Sentinel reported.

Lankford and tribal leaders plan to return in early May for a ribbon-cutting and grand opening, said Julie Olds, tribe’s cultural resources officer.

“We have every intention of being a community partner,” Olds said.

The Miami once lived throughout northern Indiana and had a large settlement called Kekionga in what is now Fort Wayne. In 1846, the U.S. government forced most members of the tribe to move to Kansas. Tribe members were forced to move again in 1867 to their current location in Oklahoma.

The National Historic Preservation Act allows American Indian tribes to consult with state and federal governments on construction projects, including the discovery of human remains, and on work that affects properties of historic tribal significance, Olds said. The Miami Tribe has been doing this for years in this region, but from its Oklahoma office.

Staffing the Fort Wayne office will be a tribal historic preservation consultant who will work on projects in Indiana and the Great Lakes region, she said.

Olds estimated about 500 Miami Tribe of Oklahoma members live in Indiana and about 4,800 in the U.S. and overseas.

To help serve tribe members in this area, the Fort Wayne office also will have one staff member tasked with coordinating cultural programming, such as language classes, cultural education programs and youth activities, Olds said. Since 2005, the Miami Tribe has offered a one-week summer education program for youth ages 10-16 in Fort Wayne.

The cultural resources office has no connection to any attempt to bring a tribal casino or gambling operation to northeastern Indiana, she said.

The decision to open the extension office is not connected to efforts by the Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana, which is based in Peru.


Information from: The News-Sentinel,