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Doing Without Feathers and Dancing

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  • Doing Without Feathers and Dancing

    Let's do a thought experiment.

    Let's suppose you were rebuilding an OA chapter and a decision was made to dispense with the feathers and dancing in favor of other kinds of ceremonies and activities deemed to have a wider appeal and to be easier to stage.

    Is there anything that would prevent that as a choice?

    Is it something you might think worthwhile with which to experiment?

    [I'm a lapsed OA member myself, never active beyond the Ordeal]

  • #2
    If very well and respectfully done, I would fight to keep it.

    If it wasn't, I'd drop it like a hot potato and find something nice to replace it.

    I realize the Indian tradition runs strong in OA, but a Rendezvous/Outdoorsman ceremony would work well, or even just a COH type of program would work too. If Indian emphasis was removed, I'm sure the boys could come up with something if given the opportunity to mull it over for a while.

    Even if it were something along the lines of "Council of Campfires", it would work.

    "Rendezvous of the Nations"?

    "Clan of the _____ fill in the blank with a non-WB animal.

    Maybe Kudu could work up a ceremony for "Board of the MBA's" for the boys. And before Kudu hits me, I hope he understands that suggestion as dripping with sarcasm....

    "Knights of the Roundtable" - Nope, too over worked and already taken.

    "ServiceMasters" - Trade-mark infringement.

    "Brotherhood of Parlor Scouts" - Maybe not...

    Hmmm, maybe this is why I would want the boys to pick something, I'm too old to be good at it.



    • #3
      Hmmm....if the boys were picking would probably follow some video game characterization.

      For the World of Warcraft crowd...

      Brotherhood of the Orc/Ranger/Elf/Dwarf ....

      (I do like the recent TV ad with Chuck Norris)


      • #4
        Parlor of the Brother Scouts. Den of the Dangerous Divans. Nest of Nettles.


        • #5
          Rendezvous themed events are becoming bigger in our Council. Our Troop does a couple campouts like that every year, and I think we are going to be a host Troop for the Fall Rendezvous Camporee.

          Will it get to OA, maybe.


          • #6
            TERMINATOR IV -- Return of the Delawares

            I've written a number of times I think the Indian stuff -- especially at the callout -- comes across as hokey.

            I was a youth member and hadn't participated in anything OA for many years until the troop started getting a few guys going through several years ago. Personally, the content of the ceremonies was better and more meaningful than I remembered, but the whole Indian thing served more as a distraction. I'm the first to admit I know nothing about Native American culture. Our chapter ceremonies guys may all have PhDs in anthropology and be 100% accurate in their depictions, but it still comes off as a bunch of white suburban kids playing indian. Do Native Americans really speak in trochaic tetrameter?

            I would really like to hear what the kids think. My old-fart opinions don't really matter. Anytime I bring a load of guys home from a ceremony, I always ask what they thought. I tend to get a wishy-washy "oh, I thought it was great..." but I really think they're trying to tell me what they think I want to hear. It's always surprising to me how little of the content they understand. Maybe it's the hunger and exhaustion.

            I would be supportive of some serious updates.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)


            • #7
              Well my chapter actually went "old school" at one time with ceremonies: they used robes like in the original OA ceremonies. One of the chapter, and later lodge, chiefs came back from OA Trail Crew and was inspired by what they did for their ceremony at Philmont. And since one of OATC's founder's is active in the lodge still and helped do the research for Philmont's ceremony teams, we had it 100% authentic: Black robes with lodge totems and specific insignia on the principles.

              Had several challenges though. Some folks thought we were trying to imitate the KKK, and other thought we were trying to be Satanic. As you can imagine it casued some problems. BUT if you look at OA history, robes were originally worn at the ceremonies.

              Me personally I like the "feathers and dancing," but I'm also dance Straight, and sometimes Tradish.


              • #8
                Calling the OA simply "feathers and dancing," and lumping induction ceremonies in with ongoing program and service work, strikes me an easy way to denigrate something you don't understand.


                • #9
                  What I'm suggesting is that the feathers and dancing can be SEPARATED from the ongoing service and program work. Perhaps enhancing the service and program work.

                  And I think I made it clear that I claim no expertise in OA.


                  • #10
                    Short's post reminded me of something. Now this is based upon some research of mine, so if others can point me in the right direction, please tell me and THANK YOU IN ADVANCE for doign so.

                    In regards to "feathers and dancing," grant you the appeal to Native American cultures and the OA goes all the way back to Treasure Island and 1915, One of the reasons why the "feathers and dancing" aspects came about is because up until the 1930s, the majority of Native Americans were NOT US citizens, and their religious and social practices were forbidden by federal laws. One of the ways of preserving as best as possible their traditions was teaching outsiders, whether they be anthropologists, linguists, and other scholars, or youth groups interested in learning like the OA.

                    You see the OA has helped in preserving the cultures. I know in one instance, Arrowmen became so interested in Native American cultures, that they helped preserve them, and even reintroduce some aspects of traditional arts. Heck some Arrowman have even helped do research and promoted federal recognition of some nations.

                    Now is every lodge doing things correctly, no. My old lodge, one that had a very good relationship with the local nation, had a bunch of yahoos deciding to do things their own way and made stuff up. Long story short, the dance team was disbanded at the Houmas' request. It took a few years to get it restarted.

                    One of the great things abotu the OA is that it has something for everyone. Yes cheerful service is somethign that binds all Arrowman. But if you have an interest in Native American Cultures, that is there. If you are interested in High Adventure, that is there. You're interested in collecting, that is there, if you are interested in improving yourself, that's there. And if you are just interested in hanging out with your friends after a day of cheerful service, that's there.

                    Last note, IMHO, the reason why ceremonies are becoming blah is because the ceremonialists are not, repeat NOT, taking the time to do them properly. They are not memorizing lines, they are not rehearsing the ceremonies,, they are not being coached, etc. They are rushing through the ceremonies.


                    • #11
                      Like any quality program, it's the combination of elements, not any single element, that makes it distinctive.

                      Change the thread to "doing without cheerful service" or "doing without brotherhood", and what answers will you get?

                      I think Short's points about really making an effort to connect with your local Native American tribes is important. It's important that boys participate in preservation of something of value, but making an effort to capture the nuances of the ceremony may be the best cross-cultural experience some boys will ever have. (Not everyone goes to world Jamboree.)


                      • #12
                        Like the Jenga game, pulling some elements from a program may or may not cause the tower to tumble. Some of the elements like emphasis on Indian traditions, although important could be easier replaced than service and brotherhood.

                        A portrait of a Indian does more to promote respect for our native culture, more so than say, maybe the old Milwaukee Braves logo. I am of Norwegian descent and I know of a lot of things about my culture that does not include the Minnesota Vikings NFL team mascot prancing up and down the sidelines with a sword and shield. The medium is often as important as the message.



                        • #13
                          Sure - we could go the rendezvous route - why, there is even some commonality with the OA already - the OA imitates aspects of the American Indian culture and the voyageurs and mountain men imitated aspects of the American Indian culture as well. So instead of badly imitiating American Indian culture, we can badly imitate voyageurs and mountain men badly imitating (or trying to Europonize) American Indian culture. Hmmm - on second thought...

                          Well, we could go to old original way with the black robes. Of course, the reason we got away from that model was it made too many people think the OA was somehow related to Free Masonry and that was not something that was intended. I'm not surprised that people think of the KKK or satanic worship now either. Hmmm - maybe not...

                          I'm not trying to defend the program the way it is - I think it might be an interesting exercise - but sometimes, as hokey as something might seem, it may be better than the alternatives.

                          Of course, I must say that when I first saw the title of the thread, I was wondering where scouts were dancing about wearing feather boas - good thing I then saw it was in the OA section.


                          • #14
                            "I think Short's points about really making an effort to connect with your local Native American tribes is important."

                            Question : How do you "connect" with your local tribe if there are none in your area?

                            There are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio...and only two organized tribes.


                            • #15

                              You could contact the American Indian Education Center in Cleveland.