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About Burnside

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    Junior Member
  1. The reason I posted the question on this forum, at the suggestion of a fellow scout who visits the site, was to learn what I did not know about the use of Native references and ceremonys in scouting, because to my own sensibilities it felt uncomfortable. I appreciate many of the informed responses and was very glad to learn of the partnerships between many scouts and their local Native communities. I hope that is the norm, but I don't know if it is or not, and it seems to me that if we are going to incorporate such important references from another culture (particularly one which our early American ancestors worked so hard to destroy), that it is not out of line or self-serving to ask if there are guidelines for such things. Thanks again to those who offered great information. The discussion seems to be breaking down at this point, so I'll say thanks and sign off.
  2. Glad I asked! Interesting responses, I appreciate the information shared. For the record, I never suspected actual intent to offend; yet given the historical relationship between Native Americans and European Americans, I think it is worth thinking about and maybe even challenging tradition. I have to say that, offense or no offense, I remain perplexed by the desire to cling to the fiction ( Disney, as a couple of people put it). Yes, I grew up with the Cowboys and Indians stuff. But my boys have replaced those fantasies with the likes of Star Wars and I think it would be just as ridiculous to have scouts holding Jedi ceremonies (tho my kids would love it). And as far as suggesting that the Disney style portrayal of real live Native Americans is as harmless as the Geico cave men commercials, well, I don't know where to begin. I beleive that knowlege and understanding of history is invaluable. I would welcome more emphasis on real history in scouting ceremonies and activities, and leave the fiction to the campout skits. Old Grey Eagle has some interesting ideas.
  3. I am guessing the arrow is not a sacred symbol too ... but certainly the Medicine Man is. In fact, the Medicine man is considered to be a link between the earth and the spirit ... in many ways a religious figure. It is not so much that I am worried about one particular ceremony (though having been to several Pow Wows, I felt very uncomfortable seeing those boys in Native regalia),my question is are these ceremonies in general just a creative free for all or are there specific rules for how they are to be (or not be) carried out? Does anything go? Are there guidelines? I don't know why the BSA needs to borrow from the Native culture at all, since there are so many interesting and meaningful ways to carry out the business of scouting in its own rite. Doesn't seem very courteous or reverent to me.
  4. I attended my son's Arrow of Light ceremony and was surprised and somewhat disturbed to see that the ceremony included Boy Scouts dressed up and identified as Akela, Medicine Man etc. Complete with feathers and beating drums, the "Akela" pretended to inspect each arrow (made by machine I'm sure and decorated by parents via a kit) and declare it "worthy" or not. For an organization which requires respectful behavior from the scouts, I am confused and frankly a bit ashamed. I think if I were a Native American, I would be quite offended by this farce. Additionally, after years of our boys visiting museums and police stations and battleships to understand the world around them, why conclude their scouting chapter with such a fictional ceremony ... fictional Akela pretending to inspect store bought arrows etc. These young men do not require such folly, it teaches them nothing of actual Native culture ... which would be interesting for them to learn by the way ... and devalues the sacred symbols of other cultures. Is this condoned by the BSA?