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  • OA and the aboriginal cultures

    I didn't want to hijack the other thread...

    "The Purpose of the OA is:

    ◦Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition.
    ◦Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp.
    ◦Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation.
    ◦Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others."
    - from SR540Beaver's post

    Although traditions can run strong in a culture it often begs the question as to whether or not some of it should be dropped. We as a culture are bending over backwards to be intolerant to those who use references to the aboriginal cultures. How long will it be before that wave of intolerance reaches the BSA and it's OA references to such culture? We got the religious issue to deal with, we have the homosexual issue to deal with, and soon it will be the OA's turn. A bunch of white guys dressing up in less than authentic traditional dress of the culture and make-believing in some sort of ritual reflected of their religion. I'm kind of surprised our culture has let it go on as long as it has. Homosexual and theistic beliefs are morally based, but if one were to use a litmus test of morality with the aboriginal culture usage, one might have a difficult time defending it on any grounds other than simply tradition and that might no longer be appropriate.

    So, then, where in the purpose of the OA does it reference the need for the aboriginal culture to be used? Could it be better served with something the boys could relate to more directly?

    Stosh

  • #2
    I can see it now. OA drops NA culture for Hip Hop culture. Still a bunch of white guys dressing up, dancing and pretending they are something they are not.

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    • #3
      How long will it be before that wave of intolerance reaches the BSA and it's OA references to such culture? ... About 30 years ago.

      The OA and "The First People" have had rocky relations at times. Although not an OA group, the Koshare story is a very good example of how things have been. By and large we do, and have had issues, but by showing respect for, and demonstrating a desire to learn and preserve, the customs and traditions of the various aboriginal groups we've gained respect and trust. It's important we remain mindful of our relations with all Nations, Tribes, and Bands.

      The OA has strong ties to Native American tradition, legend, and custom not only because it's a rich heritage with our wilderness areas are closely tied to, but also because every young man after the turn of the last century was absolutely fascinated with all things related to Native American life, and frontier culture. In short if you want kids attention, give them what they want.

      The purpose of the OA has changed in many ways, many times, over the past 100 years. However, there's one item that should appear in that list, that to my knowledge never has: To learn, preserve, and educate fellow scouts on the history, traditions, and lore of the many storied camps, and outdoor properties owned, and used, by BSA. This is my opinion, but it might as well be on the list, as it is a part of who and what we are, and Native American Legend, Lore, and Tradition are a big part of the color of our camps and properties.

      Although it's true 2014 doesn't much resemble 1910, it's also true that we have to have a unique hook to grab scouts attention. The mystery and beauty surrounding all things relating to aboriginal culture remain something scouts can't get elsewhere, and a big draw.

      We're currently in the process of doing some rebuilding of our OA program, and have been experimenting with what draws the scouts interest. Repeatedly, and without exception, Native American displays and activities, win out. This spring a round dance voluntarily drew nearly every event participant away from a mini carnival with dunking booths featuring lodge officers. This past winter our Lodge sponsored trainings drew little attention at University of Scouting, until we began to drum and sing, at which point people left the classes they had signed up for and joined us. When Goodman and Edson identified Native American activities, legends, and lore as a way to capture and hold youth attention, they nailed it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Locally, the Native American tribes seem to approve of OA and their "bunch of white guys dressing up in less than authentic traditional dress of the culture and make-believing in some sort of ritual reflected of their religion" . In fact, the OA here sponsors a campout for the scouting public that includes a Pow Wow run by the local tribe.

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        • #5
          Stosh, do you think this issue needs to take on an all or nothing approach, or do you see a middle ground here?

          You mentioned two areas that might be improved, "less than authentic dress" and "rituals reflected of their religion." If OA insisted on authenticity and shied away from religious rituals, do you think that would do it?

          By the way, cultural appropriation issues go beyond OA. Take Chief Owasippe of Chicago Council's Owasippe Scout Reservation. Do I see a Western styled headdress on a Great Lakes tribal character?
          Last edited by David CO; 06-25-2014, 12:07 PM.

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          • #6
            David,

            I only bring up the issue, but I do like Old_Ox_Eagle83's comment: "Also remember the OA was originally known as BSA's Honor Camper Society, and was born at Treasure Island Scout Camp, as a summer camp program.

            There are those who have forgotten that " ... the Order of the Arrow is a thing of the Outdoors and camping". The OA isn't a thing of dormitories and fun games; one of the crisis we face is loosing sight of our purpose.

            "The Order of the Arrow is a thing of the spirit rather than of mechanics. Organization, operational procedure, and paraphernalia are necessary in any large and growing movement, but they are not what count in the end. The things of the spirit count"
            Dr. E Earner Goodman"

            I'm thinking the tradition may in fact be so strong it has overpowered the nature of the program. My OA lodge does very little if anything to promote camping in the council. They set up the camp, do a few ordeal sessions, have a few parties, tear down the camp at the end of the season, and pretty much do nothing more. If it's a youth run program, focused on camping, why aren't they the ones running the spring and fall camporees? Why aren't they beating the bushes for summer camp promotions? Oh, that's right we have adults that do all of that. There is no need for the kids today to do that.... maybe other than a prestigious patch on the shirt, maybe there's no need for the honor camping society anymore either. That surely would solve the aboriginal culture issue rather quickly, too.

            How come I'm the only one that can see the elephant in the room?

            Stosh

            Comment


            • #7
              Given Seton, Indian themes were preordained.

              The possibility of offending some is not a new issue.

              Almost fifty years ago, the Lakota asked Lodge 298 to stop using the Ghost Dance in its programs. The Lodge complied with the request. The feeling, generally, was that we should not do something to offend the tribe whose culture formed the theme of the Lodge. The Lakota thanked the Lodge for its sensitivity to their religious beliefs.

              Today, I found this from the Chairman of the OA (dated 2013):

              Face Paint
              The use of face paint, body paint, and wigs by non-American Indians could be offensive to some groups of American Indian people. Where lodge activities related to ceremony or dance are offensive to local American Indians they must be discontinued by Order of the Arrow members. Appropriate local use is to be interpreted by each lodge based on its relationship with American Indian tribes in the council area. National Order of the Arrow conferences, conclaves and other events conducted beyond the individual lodge will not permit face paint, body paint, or wigs to be used in social or competition dancing or in ceremonies or ceremony team evaluations.
              [emphasis added]

              http://www.oa-bsa.org/pages/content/...man-ceremonies


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              • #8

                Originally posted by jblake47 View Post
                David,
                My OA lodge does very little if anything to promote camping in the council. They set up the camp, do a few ordeal sessions, have a few parties, tear down the camp at the end of the season, and pretty much do nothing more. If it's a youth run program, focused on camping, why aren't they the ones running the spring and fall camporees? Why aren't they beating the bushes for summer camp promotions?
                I think sometimes we get a little mixed up about "promoting camping" and "promoting camp." I do think it is the lodge's responsibility to promote camping. Running camporees, you bet. Putting together "where to camp" kits, yes. Helping with day-camps and Webelos overnighters, absolutely. I don't believe it is the lodge's responsibility to promote the council summer camp. Sending kids who may or may not have ever actually attended to council's summer camp to show a video about stuff they no nothing about and deflect questions they can't actually answer, not so much. That's a job for the council camping committee.

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                • #9
                  As for the original question, the OA won't get much scrutiny until either 1) the other cultural issues surrounding the BSA fall or 2) somebody decides weapon-ize it to play in conjunction with the other cultural issues. If the Washington Football Club changes their name it might move more quickly.

                  I have to say I'm not convinced that the Native American symbolism is that big of a draw for today's youth. We have a number of youth that are part of a separate drum team crew but they are struggling for membership.

                  Maybe we should switch to cowboys....

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                  • #10
                    Mountain Men? Big time outdoors.

                    Voyageurs? Big time outdoors with canoeing.

                    Honor Scouts Society was and could be brought back. Maybe add Honor Scouts Camping Society. OA doesn't yell camping at anyone even though it should.

                    Pioneers, could include the ladies as well.

                    Frontiersmen

                    Trailblazers

                    Zombie Apocalyptic Survivalists - Just tossed that one in, but I'd bet it would sell in today's culture.

                    Parlor Scouts might work for some.

                    It shouldn't be all that difficult.

                    Stosh

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                    • #11
                      What is compelling about NA cultures is the sheer level of resourcefulness. Understanding Other cultures, even in the most rudimentary sense of going through ceremonial motions, begins to show a youth how resourceful humans can be.

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                      • #12
                        Well I can tell you I would for sure go for the zombie apocalyptic survivalist theme. It would be kind of like being an actual tea party member or something. (sorry, couldn't resist)
                        Seriously, I think it would be a blast to organize one of those 'run for your life' events at a zombie camporee...talk about having fun!

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                        • #13
                          Just thought about something. If there are any Baptist units left in the BSA, do their unit's OA members participate is ceremonial dance teams?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by King Ding Dong View Post
                            Just thought about something. If there are any Baptist units left in the BSA, do their unit's OA members participate is ceremonial dance teams?
                            Yes, and yes King. I'm not following why they would not. Understand a large portion of native dance is non-religious, story based, and the majority of what has religious connections is off limits to scouts, or altered to remove that element.

                            Baptist's do dance, ever seen Foot Loose?

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                            • #15
                              Footloose, no never seen it. I avoid all chick flicks and musicals like the plague. My step grandfather was a southern baptist preacher and I spent many summers down in Arkansas at retreats and vacation bible schools. Dancing was was a big no no. Some boys got in big trouble for not wearing a t shirt on their way from the dorm to the swimming pool as well. I guess things are different now.

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