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  • #31
    I think the experience of BSA24 is rather unfortunate - perhaps it is a "local thing". My experience is more on the lines of Tokala and emb021; i.e. very positive with help from local Native Peoples and Nations. Proper research is absolute key. There's nothing worse than seeing guys throwing on a ribbon shirt and leggings, breachclout, and whatever "accessories" the Chapter has, with obviously no clue to the hows and why of what they are doing.

    Our Chapter concentrates specifically on northern New England (NH, VT, ME)and the Maritimes as we are located in NH. Our regalia is VERY northern New England i.e. there's no way you would mistake someone from being anywhere but, and it's all hand-made. There are no decorative designs that would be something an individual "earns the right to wear", so design is left up to the individual so long as it's proper Northern N/E.

    We understand the whys and hows of what we are doing and do get a lot of help from local Nations. One thing that is very unique to our ceremonies team, is that we incoprporate Abenaki (NH's original language) into our ceremonies - not a ton, but enough to use as an educational tool as well (no matter how old you are, you'll know the meaning of a few words by the time you leave). The beginning part of our AOL/Crossover ceremony is in Abenaki first, then English. It does a good job of making people realize they are experienceing another culture.

    I'm not saying we're perfect by any means, but I do think that proper research and understanding of a culture you're trying to emulate is paramount. Unfortunatley, we are stuck with those Chapters who have very little desire to learn and 'do it right' as it were and the result is just as one would expect - gives this whole aspect of the OA a horrible reputation.

    As an aside, there are very few Native people in my neck of the woods who are not "part something else" in their ethnic background. Many Native people around here you'll find have French/English surnames. Many people of French Canadian background also have Native blood - it's nothing unusual here and it is not at all uncommon to find a 'blond haired blue eyed'individual who is just as Native as someone with darker features.


    • #32
      Why does the politically correct crowd on this thread feel entitled to refer to OA leaders as "overweight white guys" repeatedly and with impunity? That seems like insensitive and racist stereotyping to me.

      No matter how true it might be.


      • #33
        > it is not at all uncommon to find a
        > 'blond haired blue eyed'individual who
        > is just as Native as someone with darker features.

        We have a lot of guys around here who are blue eyed who claim to be natives raised with native culture. They fake at being able to speak the language, but I am trilingual, and I can hear their American English accents and slow fake speech just the same as I can when I hear actors recite lines in a foreign language they do not speak. I learn a few phrases in the language and use them, uncommon phrases, and they stare blankly.

        So then I go to the reservation, and everyone on it has Asian-style thick, black, straight hair. They have distinctive faces, just like the guy on the buffalo nickel, and they are highly, intensely xenophobic toward visitors. At least those not selling tourist trinkets or marketing themselves as consultants to the white man on his Indian interests. They are raised in the abject poverty of the reservation, and they all speak with a certain nasal accent on their English.

        I've spent considerable time around such people. Enough that I know not to wear a boy scout uniform or any sort of OA or scout shirt on the reservation, because I will be talked to about how racist it is. I've asked folks there how they feel about people such as my blonde-blue-eyed aquaintences. Most of what I have been told is that "If you don't live on the reservation, you are dead to us."

        This thread has been great for chewing on some thoughts. I've read everyone's responses and considered them. I wonder if the difference between those who are offended and those who are not is what sorts of interactions we have had with native people.

        I also wonder if part of the difference isn't how we view the cultural items. To me, being a "native" is not a genetic thing. I also have a Jewish ancestor. I am not Jewish. I have a German ancestor. I am not German. Nor am I English, nor am I Irish. And someone born to Americans raised in Ireland who never lived in America may technically be a citizen, but I will never consider them a real American, because they have not lived among my people, and they do not know us or act like us.

        So, when I see kids, no matter who has a card from a tribal authority saying he is an official approver of dances and songs, dressed up like Indians, to me, it's shamefully fake. They are not members of that culture. They are not Indians.

        They are not Indians any more than Raquel Welch is an Indian, and she played one in a movie. And I think she shouldn't have, and a real Indian should have done it.

        Maybe if I went to an OA event and saw guys who live in a native culture leading everyone in a fun dance along, I would think "Cool!" But when I see a bunch of white teenagers who know next to nothing about a living people they are playing at being, I think it looks like a shallow understanding that belies a lack of respect. Not an intentional one, but really, it's bad.

        I also agree with the guy above who wrote that the Indian dancing is just lame, even if it isn't racist. It's not something your average future CEO is going to do with his time. It's like dressing up in star trek uniforms for a convention. Hey, if that's your thing, fine, but realize that most kids shake their heads in disgust when they see it and think its nerdy.(This message has been edited by BSA24)


        • #34


          • #35
            I don't know BSA24. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates seem like 2 CEOs that would be very comfortable at a Star Trek convention. I believe that you are being stereotypical in assuming that youths who participate in the native American aspects of the OA are nerdy. As Eagle 92 pointed out many times these youths go on to get PhDs in very respectable academic areas.

            I am a little taken aback that someone who claims to be so enlightened uses terms such as Indian and red skinned to refer to Native Americans. The few Native Americans I know find these terms offensive.

            I think this falls into the category of those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.(This message has been edited by Johnponz)


            • #36
              A few comments.

              In regards to language, a lot of the native languages are dying out, if not dead already. Assimilation is what did it. Best example I can think of is the French assimilating the Houma of Louisiana to the point that French became their principle language, not Houma. In fact one of the history books I have on them written by one of their council members is written in both French and English.

              If memory serves, Eastern Band Cherokee, in their attempt to keep Tsalgi alive, has made it mandatory in the reservation school system. And I believe the Lakota are using SCRABBLE as their attempt to keep their language alive.

              As to OA members getting involved in outside native American Culture, definitely seen that. I know and have been mentored by Arrowmen who have become members of native American tribal societies like the Ponca Hethuska. Heck I did research on one mentor who was invited to a tribal powwow in OK in the 1960s. Now OK is Southern Straight country, but at the time my mentor did Fancy Feather, and there were not many of them at the time. Guess whose picture made the front page of the local picture newspaper? I've met several gentlemen who were adopted, and I don't mean Lone Ranger- Tonto "Hollywood Adoption" either, into families. Heck one of them wrote an article on his adoption, and a disadvantage of the adoption: a girl he was interested is was now his cousin and no longer an option as a result the adoption


              • #37
                > I am a little taken aback that someone who claims
                > to be so enlightened uses terms such as Indian
                > and red skinned to refer to Native Americans.
                > The few Native Americans I know find these terms offensive.


                Yes, let's compare sins, because if someone else is sinning, then your own are canceled out. :/

                You're saying that people shouldn't be so sensitive and PC about white kids from the burbs dressing up as Indians, walking around with their arms cross like a cheap spaghetti Western, faking a fake Souix accent, but now you want to play role-reversal and say that I was being non-PC by using the expression "indian" and "red skin" to refer to what you call "a native american?"

                As a native of America, I am highly offended that you think I am not a Native American. Where is Jessie Jackson when I need him? Wait wait. The Indians from India want to join in the protest. What about someone born in the United States who's parents are from India? What are they exactly? A native American or an Indian American? What if they live in Indiana? Oh no! We named an entire state after indians, but not the indians who were born there. What would you be then? Or a white guy from South African who moves here? Isn't he an African American?

                You guys make me laugh. This is just like talking to the dance, drum, and ceremony guys in my lodge. They are hell-bent that what they are doing is good and pure and right and unassailable. They will listen to no one. Change can never come. All critics must be people who are not as smart as they are. They will drum and dance and ceremony the OA right out of relevance.

                Who cares if people like it! We will die with honor doing what we love! All both of us! WE ARE KLINGONS!

                The mental gymnastics required by this maze of rationalization that justifies continuing a beloved practice that is so vulnerable to criticism are astounding.

                Meanwhile, what % of kids are inducted who come to at least six lodge meetings? 1% 10%? 15% maybe? What could it be that makes them not come back? Could it possibly be that this facet of BSA runs so counter-cultural to youth's world views today that they just cringe in horror when they see it?

                The only "red skins" are those red faced in embarrassment.


                • #38
                  "Could it possibly be that this facet of BSA runs so counter-cultural to youth's world views today that they just cringe in horror when they see it?"

                  Ding ding ding! Give that man a cigar!
                  But make sure it's not from a store with a wooden "cigar store Indian" statue out front. That would be an intolerable affront to tolerance of the tolerant. And... hey, speaking of cigars... isn't tobacco use a thing that we picked up from the Indians (
                  Aha!! We've discovered yet another BSA anti-Indian agenda... they make fun of Indians by dressing and dancing like them and then try to suppress their culture by discouraging tobacco use!

                  What if OA dropped the Indian fetish and adopted in its stead, Renaissance European customs and pageantry for ceremonial purposes?

                  How much patience would we have for people of European descent who claimed to have some specially inherited authority over how others used cultural artifacts from Renaissance Europe?

                  How much credence we would give their genetically based claims over rights to be especially offended over this or that perceived slight to "their" European culture?

                  If a group of non-white non-European American boys dressed as knights for some ceremony... how much patience would we have for the white European American who got offended and said: "these non-white men have no right to use the coat of arms of the House of Umpdefrats! It's not their culture! They shouldn't dress as knights because haven't earned the title! And... oh the horror of it all... they've got a kid with the House of Schmedap's coat of arms on his shield, but wearing a breast-plate from South-East-North-Phalia! That's not authentic! And his helmet looks Roman or something! It's disrespectful. It's sacrilege! Make those non-white boys stop making us white people feel bad!"

                  But we wouldn't see that. No one would think they were trying to belittle or ridicule Renaissance European culture unless they were really trying to do just that. And then, if they really were trying to ridicule Renaissance European culture, no one would be that bothered by it because no one has an inferiority complex about it. And no one has an inferiority complex about it because compared to other cultures existing at the time... it wasn't inferior.


                  • #39
                    Wow BSA24, I am disappointed. You chose Wahissa Lodge #118 to single out and accuse of ignorance with your YouTube link. Wahissa Lodge, MY lodge, has a GREAT Indian Affairs program. Our dancers regularly go to powwows and dances across the state and nation to learn more about their styles of dance. You seem to forget that they spend lots of time, money, and research into what they do.Also, our drum team learns true Native American songs to use for tap out ceremonies and competitions. To top it all off, many people think they are good at what they do because our competition teams consistently do well and I'd say about 10,000 people attend our Wednesday night OA tapout ceremonies each summer.

                    With all of this said, I will concede on one point. Due to the lack of Native American population in our area, we don't have a centralized cultural focus on any one tribe or people group. The local Saura Indians were driven out hundreds of years ago and the Cherokee and Lumbee live pretty far from us so we may mix things a bit. However, everything that we do is done out of respect for the people that lived on this continent before a bunch of pale people came over in ships.


                    • #40
                      "is done out of respect for the people that lived on this continent before a bunch of pale people came over in ships."

                      You say "respect" but what it looks like is entirely too much energy spent romanticizing, bowdlerizing, and emulating primitive rituals and pageantry rooted in beliefs and culture the likes of which most of our ancestors (you know, the forebears of those "pale people" who came over on ships) quit millenia ago as they developed the better way of life we enjoy today.

                      It's not some unintentional discourtesy or unkindness that's the problem. It's inappropriate reverence. Pre-Columbian North American cultures include useful examples of crafts and skills useful in survival, camping, and outdoorsmanship. It's interesting stuff and being historically informed is fine. But OA makes a fetish of it.


                      • #41
                        I know this discussion comes up regularly, and I wish I had just saved my original posts so that I could just cut in past I don't have a lot of time at the moment, so I will just sum up.

                        When the OA was founded in 1915, most Native Americans were not US citizens, were forbidden to practice their religion and culture, and their youth were sent to Indian boarding schools by the US government where they were beaten if they spoke their language, and forced to adopt Anglo culture. And some of this lasted until WWII. (An aside: did you know that various CODE TALKER recruits went though an accelerated boot camp because the boarding schools they had attended taught a lot of what boot camp did and they were ahead by several weeks in some things.)

                        While some nations went underground in their customs and traditions, all assimilated to some degree into Anglo culture. Some nations lost their native speakers, lost the last members of their various societies, etc. A lot of Native American culture was lost.

                        Now some Native Americans saw the OA as a way to help keep some elements, not everything but some, of their culture alive in this dark time. There was support for the OA in the Native American community and you had a variety of tribal leaders helping out. And in one case I mentioned in oe fo those threads, Arrowmen have returned the favor. Arrowmen have worked with the native community to help them restore lost traditional skills, help do research for their petition for federal recognition, etc.

                        Now is every single ceremonialist and dancer 100% spot on. Unfortunately no. Sometimes "the Hollywood Indian" image is so prevalent, even folks who should know better continue it as it is expected. I know I've been questioned a time or two by folks when I wore my Straight Dance regalia at scouting events.

                        Also some advisers get so stuck on reliving their youth, that they just keeping what they've been doing. They forget that Native American culture is alive and changing still. Heck stuff I wore a few years back would not be "fashionable" today.


                        • #42
                          Callooh! Callay! & Eagle92 you make some very interesting points for me to mull over.

                          Some thoughts: Can I make a society in the Boy Scouts where I dress up as the Pope and all the members speak Latin (or what sound like fake Italian accents)?

                          I think you have all made some excellent points about who has and does not have an inherent, God-given righteousness to call themselves victim and claim they are offended. I concede on that front. When one considers the mass hatred between the tribes themselves, and the nonsense they themselves have perpetuated about their own histories, it's easy to see where it gets absurd.

                          I am obviously not offended by Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, nor am I offended by Cornhuskers or any other silly mascot or mockery of any of the many cultures I hail from.

                          I am also not offended if someone burns the American flag or throws it on the ground. I just don't get offended by things like that. I think offense is something people do to themselves, not something that is done to them. You guys obviously agree with that.

                          So, I should be able to do the Pope thing. But I can't. We all know it.

                          I think the only argument I have left is that the mainstream of our society will choose to be offended by it, so how can we hope to be successful in achieving our #1 objective if we drive people off, whether or not they are wrong to be offended?

                          Yes, it may be silly, guilty white liberal PC behavior, but if that is the prevailing culture, what is the point in our fighting a hopeless battle to our doom?

                          I guess BSA doesn't care because sash & dash still results in lots of boys showing up to help clean up the camps. It's free labor for them for the price of a sash. Often the boys pay it back by buying a lodge flap or two. Some lodges charge the boys for the ordeal event.


                          • #43
                            whitepine, the guy walking with his arms crossed is copying a hollywood actor's image of an Indian Chief from the 1960's. I have never in my life seen an Indian cross his arms like Barbara Eden about to teleport in "I Dream of Jeannie." Do you believe that is something that Indians did in the 1800's? There was lots of arm crossing when things get serious?

                            I'm pretty sure that is a cartoonish representation of how any number of millions of human beings alive in the past might have stood and talked when doing a ceremony.

                            If you have netflix, stream "Reel Injun". I think you'll laugh.

                            Here's a trailer for it:


                            • #44
                              With all due respect to Wahissa 118, they are a challenge.

                              I'm in the same section as them, and when I was really active in the OA, they helped me out. There AIA program, dancers and singers, is really top notch. They do go on the Powwow circuit, do have singers with Native American drum groups, etc. Whenever I've been to a powwow with them, there have been no problems, in fact they have been welcomed with open arms. There AIA folks are doing things right in my opinion, and are a model for other lodges to follow in regards to AIA.

                              The challenge comes with their ceremony teams. More on that later somehting came up


                              • #45
                                Once again; we might want to consider the Koshare groups in Colorado. If you read their history, it is obvious that they have worked very hard over the years to develop authentic dances and to cooperate with traditions of the tribes from whom they take dances. And, if a concern is brought to them by a "legitimate" tribal authority, they have respected it, and worked to either solve the problem, or discontinue that part of their routines.