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kahits

a few questions for my native son/new ordeal member

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Having finally figured out what exactly it was that was whispered in my ear at the Spring conclave, I'm becoming more familiar with OA. My son and I did complete our Ordeal's in May, and he has some questions (or I should say we both have questions)? Since he already has dance regalia (we are Sioux, and he dances Northern traditional) that he uses on a regular basis, it may not be appropriate to assume this would be a viable part of any dancing he did thru his chapter. He is interested in creating his own ceremonial outfit/regalia, but has a question there as well. I know there is a prohibition of OA scouts wearing eagle feathers, but does that apply to an enrolled tribal member, if the feathers for their bustle was legally aquired thru the eagle depository? I have been told he might want to just make his own junk bustle out of immatation feathers, but why not use his regular bustle. Also, since he has, in the past, carried different hand weapons in his dancing, can he use a firearm for ceremonies and/or dances if it is unloaded? The rifle is a Model 1892 Winchester in an obsolete caliber that was given to me by a friend. It doesn't have much use otherwise, but I thought I would ask. I don't know if any of this is written down anywhere, but I thought I would ask. At some point, I will have an opportunity to do more with the chapter (drumming in particular), but for now, he and I have been talking about what he might do once he gets his brotherhood, and these questions came to mind. I'm just curious what your responses may be on these questions.

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Congrats to you and your son and welcome to the clan.

 

I'm glad to hear your son talking about how he can use his skills to assist the chapter/lodge, and that he's already thinking of the next step (Brotherhood).

 

The first thing to determine is what is the style of regalia that his chapter/lodge dance team uses. If its similar to the regalia your son already uses, then he should be set. If it isn't, and he wishes to be part of the dance team, he might want to create a separate OA dance outfit to match what his brothers in the OA will be wearing. He should talk to the chapter/lodge chief (I use both terms because some lodges have chapters and some don't - I'm unfamiliar with your lodges set-up - if you have chapters, start at the chapter level) about his interests and skills. Given your location, there is a strong possibility that there are other Native Americans who are also part of the dance team, and while they may or may not dance Northern Traditional, still have skills that equal (or surpass) your sons. Your son may find that as he joins the dance team, his skills have surpassed the other members of the team and may find himself teaching others. Either way, it could be a great learning opportunity for your son (and you, if you become part of the drum team).

 

If I were the chapter chief, I might turn to your son to be a "soloist" as it were at ceremonies (especially here in the Chicago area) and encourage the use of his already existing, and authentic, regalia. Only one way to find out, though, and that is to talk to the Chapter/Lodge Chief.

 

The short answer to the question of whether your son can use his eagle feather bustle is, unfortunately, no. The long answer is that OA policy is "no feathers, talons or parts of a federally protected species of birds may be worn in Order of the Arrow dance competition or may be used in demonstrations, displays, workshops or ceremonies" (from the Guide for Officers and Advisers - 2006 edition, pg. 28). There is no exception for any person who may possess and use such items legally, such as your son. Personally, I find it to be a shame that legal possessors aren't exempted (and would be very tempted to bend this policy on a local chapter/lodge level), and the solution would seem to be a simple matter of adding the word Illegal (ie - no illegal feathers, talons or parts...) which would have allowed your son to use his eagle feather bustle, but, I'm sure that for simplicity sake (and to prevent arguments over interepretation), the policy stands that no one in OA, legal possessors or not, may use eagle feathers. If he joins the chapter/lodges OA dance team, and they use bustles, he'll probably have to use a cheap, imitation bustle just like everyone else.

 

As for the use of the gun in the ceremonial dancing - I doubt the chapter/lodge would allow it. I know mine wouldn't. I don't think the BSA would look too kindly on it either. Bow & arrow, or spears, or a club, or a coup stick - depending on the dance team, probably ok - dancing with a gun, even if disabled as your sons is, isn't "traditional" (yeah, I know, it is - but tell that to people with a romanticized version of history), and isn't likely to be considered very conducive to the BSA's policies on gun safety.

 

CalicoPenn

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Thank you for that great response, CP. I have been talking with my DE, who is Comanche, about all of this and what you just said supports what he has been telling me from the very beginning. He really needs to just make a seperate outfit that he can use for ceremonies and dancing. Of course my wife, who is Omaha, doesn't want him wearing any of his outfit for OA, so maybe this is what needs to happen. Our chapter is Cheyenne, so there are many similarities that would lend him to using just about anything he choses to. I have been asked to attend OA NCLS later this month in Bloomington, for the lodge, and I was going to ask these questions, but I think that might be a waste of time, considering your very thoughtful response to my questions. Thank you for that.

 

As for the chapter, there is currently no dance team, but they do put something together with some of the other chapters at Conclave. It was that group that asked him to come back in the spring to dance with them. I showed his bustle at an organizational meeting we had in the Southern part of our district, and one of the leaders thought it was made from turkey feathers (it's actually from an immature bald eagle), so maybe we can just call it that. If he is going to dance in the spring, he will have a hard enough time making a ceremonial outfit (he likes the idea of making a buckskin warrior shirt to go with his elk leggings, and the rest that can transfer over (my wife won't be there.) from his current regalia. As for the drumming, I am hoping to help form a chapter drum group, which does not exist right now, of OA scouts. At conclave it was only adults who were doing the drumming, and that should change, if the boys are interested. I'm going to start with the boys in my troop, since most of them will be in OA by next year. One of them is an accomplished drummer and I need to find a way to get him excited about that, along with being a more focused patrol leader. I also have an 18' tipi that I would like to make accessible for the chapter to use, for special meetings and outings. Our chapter has been running on a lower level of excitment for several years, and other then the ceremonies, and low meeting attendance, there has not been alot to keep them engaged, hence alot of boys have dropped out. At Conclave, I talked with some of the other chapter members in the lodge, and found a great willingness to help, and to learn as well. My son is very excited about being an ordeal OA member and this sure sounds like adventure to me, for any boy who wants to get into it. As I learned with my daughters venture crew, it's not about what I want, but what they can get excited about and decide for themselves.

 

I'll be there in whatever capacity I can, but for now I have 4 drumstick kits to put together, and the drum is in the kitchen. Did you know there is a Comanche flag song that was given to OA to use as their own? I have it on CD (from my DE), and it will be the first song they learn. Our next few troop campouts are going to get a little more interesting, in the very least. Thank you, again, for the well written response to my questions. I'm impressed with what OA can do to keep a boy in scouting, and the opportunities it can provide. Of course, my 12 year old son just loves his sash.(This message has been edited by kahits)

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Kahits,

 

I can tell already that you are also going to make a great addition to the chapter/lodge teams. How do I know that? This sentence:

 

"As for the drumming, I am hoping to help form a chapter drum group, which does not exist right now, of OA scouts. At conclave it was only adults who were doing the drumming, and that should change, if the boys are interested."

 

Its refreshing to see that someone gets it - that the youth should be doing the drumming (I often see the adults doing the drumming at ceremonies). Passing the skills, and the responsibility, to the boys would be a fantastic contribution!

 

Starting with the boys in your troop is also a great idea - in many cases, dance and drum teams in many lodges and chapters started at the unit level to get things going. Eventually, other folks will want to join in.

 

Calico

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Thanks, CP... I see this as a more long term committment, but have my son and daughter's troop and crew to work with as well. I'm stepping down as Crew advisor this month, but the troop is going to be key in making any kind of contribution to the chapter. I'm very encouraged by these opportunities, and of course keeping it all in proper perspective with the boys making it happen. I'll definitely be posting questions from time to time, in this part of the forum. Thanks, again.

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I must disagree with CalicoPen. The rule regarding eagle feathers was created to stop illegal activities. While the rule may be written poorly to not include legal feathers, like yours, this is a rule that should be taken at face-value. Because they are legal feathers, I think you can feel free to use them. Go ahead, enrich the OA experience in your lodge with your legal native feathers, but if someone in a position of power asks you to stop, listen. I doubt anyone that would tell you to stop can even tell the difference, and most people are totally understanding when you are obviously following the rule de facto, if not de jure.

 

On the other hand, the gun might be too much. I think it is fine, and I think you should plead your case to use it, but this one may not have the same positive results as I would expect from using legal native feathers.

 

As for making a new set of regalia for the OA, I don't think it is absolutely necessary, but I would recommend it. Because of the rough-housing nature of many boys and not-always-outstanding conditions in which the lodge powwows are held, dance regalia (and ceremony regalia for that matter) used in the OA has a shorter lifespan than what you may be used to. Ruining your nice set would be a shame. If you cannot dedicate the time or money to making a new set, and you are OK with the risk of damage, using the real set is fine. I think the lodge would be more than happy to have someone dancing in real native regalia, regardless of the style!

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I thought the OA used its Native American orientation to honor the continents inhabitants and would want to seek out as much "real" information about native traditions. In my area I know the Lodges want to learn more about the native inhabitants and if they had your son and you, you would be revered. They want the information you have.

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Hillis,

 

As I first started to reply, my thought was very much like yours - it's meant to prevent the use of illegal feathers - and since the lad is a legal possessor, the rule wouldn't apply to him. The I read the rule again - a little more closely. The rule is as I quoted it from the Guide for Officers and Advisers and is thus pretty clear. NO feathers, talons or parts of federally protected species of birds may be worn or used in Order of the Arrow. On other sites I found while looking into what others have had to say, I noticed that some state it as "No illegal" - which is as I recalled it when I was a Lodge Officer (back a few half dozen years ago). The current edition of the Guide, which is a policy document of the OA, drops the word illegal (if it was there, as my memory seems to insist it was).

 

With that little change, even legal possessors are unable to use feathers, talons and parts of protected bird species in the OA. As I stated, I'd be tempted to bend this a bit, but I suspect it was implemented to prevent bad press (ie - OA Members arrested for possessing Bald Eagle Feathers) and misidentification of perfectly legal feathers (either protected feather held by a legal possessor, or excellent imitations of the real thing) by wildlife conservation officers.

 

At the local level, there may be some kind of understanding about the use of protected species feathers by legal possessors. I would, however, be hesitant to take this rule at face value and expect that all will be right with the world because one has the proper permits, if I were attending state, regional or national OA events.

 

Calico

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