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Doing Without Feathers and Dancing

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  • #16
    To clarify: Short didn't say nuthin' about connecting with Indian tribes. That was E92's expert insight.


    • #17
      Two common complaints are that "dancing and feathers" are:
      1) hokey
      2) disrespectful to Indian culture
      But if we take complaint 2 seriously and seek to mitigate it, we run into a more substantive problem:

      Pre-Columbian North American cultures are not worthy of our emulation. They're worthwhile subjects of study for historical perspective and for practical reasons of learning skills and crafts that can be useful in woodcraft, camping, or survival situations. But revering and emulating these cultures is taking that too far. These cultures enjoy an undeserved halo of wonderfulness in the popular imagination today more because of flaws in our own culture (noble savage fantasies, disatisfaction with modernity, Marxism, multiculturalism, epistemological subjectivism, ignorance, the usual suspects) than because of anything wonderful about these cultures. Unless you think Aztecs bloodying the steps of their temples with human sacrifice were just making worthy expressions of spirituality, then you already know that not all cultures are equally good or valuable. Not all examples of practices unworthy of emulation are as dramatic as human sacrifice, but that one well illustrates the point.

      Replace it with other kinds of ceremonies? How about straightforward formal but simple ceremonies without any hokum, mystic hocus pocus, or secret society-like flavor to them? How about cheerful service with no hullabaloo, no self-dramatization - just quiet dedication to doing good? An elaborate wedding doesn't make a successful marriage.


      • #18

        There are two routes to take. 1) is using historical tribes in your area. 2) is using the STATE RECOGNIZED (caps for emphasis)tribes.

        Now why are some tribes not recognized by the Feds? Why for a variety of reasons.

        One reason is the Feds don't like admitting mistakes. That's the biggest problem the Houma of LA are facing. You see the Indian Agent appointed by T. Jefferson after the LA Purchase basically said the Houma were almost extinct because He wanted their land. Most of them moved into the swamps to get away from the Anglos, and were not hear for a while. Other problems they face are 2) being considered a subtribe of the Choctaw in French and Spanish colonial records and 3) Assimilation into French culture. Houma lost their language, using French instead. In fact Houma history book I have is written in....French and English. Assimilation is a big factor with other tribes.

        Also politics play a part. Eastern Band of the Cherokee are blocking the Lumbee from being recognized by BIA. You see the Lumbee are on the I-95 corridor, and if they get federal recognition via the normal process (for whatever reason they have been recognized by one Federal agency as Native Americans, but not by the BIA and thus get no funds or treaty rights)so they cannot open up a casino. Cherokee fear that if the Lumbee get recognized, the Lumbee will open up a casino and it will hurt the Cherokee's casino.


        • #19
          I believe I subscribe to Callooh! Callay!'s opinions, although I wouldn't go out of my way to denigrate Indian cultures. Once I took in the Sioux Indian Powwow at Rosebud, SD, and that was quite a vital and dynamic cultural force.

          But it is not my culture, and I don't see a compelling reason to try to replicate it, especially when that's probably going to produce a pretty fake result in most cases.

          Instead, I'd look for something real and genuine. That suggests something with a Scouting or patriotic theme, something Scouting does with genuineness and meaning.

          Were I to join OA again and start attending monthly OA meetings, I wouldn't join in Indian dancing ceremonies. I wouldn't undermine that as a program were it successful, but I wouldn't join in maintaining it.

          Perhaps OA needs some alternate themes that leaders (youth or adult) can choose from. It sounds like feathers and dancing aren't required OA activities and program --- perhaps alternatives should be readily available should leaders desire to use them.


          • #20
            This is an interesting thread for me to read because I used to be in the same lodge that SeattlePioneer would be part of now.

            The lodge (T'Kope Kwiskwis) ceremonies team won the section's ceremonies competition every year between 2004 and 2010. Also, as far as the fear of disconnect from history, local tribes have written songs and dances specifically for the lodge (if I recall correctly- it has been a while). When the lodge started rebuilding their longhouse, representatives of local tribes were invited to participate in the groundbreaking. They also have been consulted when creating regalia for the ceremonies.

            I'm not saying that all ceremonies teams and ceremonies are beyond reproach. I just found it ironic that SP's lodge happens to be one that is quite good at keeping the ceremonies as emulations rather than caricatures. This article is a pretty good summary:

   message has been edited by Eagle707)


            • #21
              To clarify one apparent misconceptions ... not all lodges dance (mine didn't and doesn't), and the ceremonies themselves do not involve dancing. Thus, there are no such things as "dancing ceremonies."


              • #22
                Yep every lodge is different, as well as the relationship with the local nations. Like I said the lodge I started out in had a great relationship that soured because of one group of folks, but time and a group really interested in doing things right restored the relationship.

                Another lodge had 0 interest in dancing.

                Current lodge has members of a local drum in it, and we have a very,very good relationship.


                • #23
                  Hello Eagle 707,

                  Good points you raised.

                  Most Scouting programs have a lot of different directions they can go if participants desire.

                  I'm interested in exploring alternatives to the Indian lore that forms the basis for a lot of OA chapters. Are there better directions to go that would create more interest in OA and serve the purposes of OA better?

                  Frankly, I don't know.

                  Does anyone know how OA chapters in Hawaii or Guam treat such issues?

                  My impression is that at least in Hawaii, interest in the hula extends well beyond native Polynesian groups. I wonder if OA chapters there use Polynesian dancing and cultural symbols in their program?

                  Are there OA chapters chartered in other overseas locations such as Europe where Scout Troops are chartered? Perhaps they use ancient Celtic traditions there?


                  • #24
                    I'm a long ways from Delaware but still ...


                    • #25


                      • #26
                        It is my understanding that the original founders of the Order of the Arrow utilized some of the language of the Leni Lenape tribe (Delaware Indians). The order was never meant to be about "native americans" per se. The Order does use American Indian-styled traditions and ceremonies as well as Masonic symbolism and terminology - all to instill a feeling of shared community.

                        Some just don't get it.


                        • #27
                          There are only two ways to do ceremonies: first class or no class.

                          It would be better to have no Native American dances or costumes than to do something half baked.

                          That said, I think Native American culture and traditions are still important to scouting, and the OA specifically. Great topics for conclaves and ordeals.


                          • #28

                            For myself, I've dropped out of the OA entire, got tired of the Pan Indian Hollywood productions of a faux legend. So, is there a better way....yes, it's called historical reenacting based oh facts produced by research. As I see it, the dancing, and feathers are nothing more than eye candy farb for mis-informed scouts, and scouters.


                            • #29

                              When I was at NOAC a whiles back, one of the things I picked up from ceremony classes was that lodges and chapters were suppose to do their homework, do research and make the regalia as authentic as possible (let's face it some things you need "imitation" i.e artificial sinew ) I know when I was in SE LA, doing the research, we picked early 1800s colonial period for our regalia. The best ceremony team I ever saw, and i competed against them at NOAC, was from the FL/GA border, and their regalia kicked butt and took names. However, depending upon who you talk to, it was Choctaw ( GA folks) or Seminole ( Fl folks)

                              Yes I agree 110%, most teams are "Hollywood" Indians and are FARBY!. Sad thing is I've seen folks who know better go farb, b/c that is the expectation.


                              • #30
                                Here is a video from the 2003 Indian Summer event. Having attended a good number of Native American events here in Oklahoma including the Annual Red Earth Festival which draws Native Americans from the US, Canada and Mexico, the dance regalia is dead on top notch as well as the dancing. About 35 seconds into the video, not the ethnicity of the drummers. It appears they have no problem with white boys honoring their heritage and culture.