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John-in-KC

NATIONAL POLICY: AOL and Crossover Ceremonies

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Thanks Oldscout448 for the 'recap' of what was discussed at NOAC.

I'm pretty sure National gets a few e-mails monthly with respect to "cultural appropriation" - I suspect, given how some Lodges approach AIA/Ceremonies, etc.,  some of the complaints are legit, but I also suspect that some are from people just trying to make a point, as it were.

As some have stated, it should have been more of a development of a set of rules and guidelines rather than entirely eliminating what in most cases can be a powerful experience.

Our Chapter is currently on 'summer hiatus', but once things get rolling again in September, I'm hoping we can come up with a "Standing Bear Productions, LLC" solution without upsetting that applecart known as the Lodge. I suspect they'll have no issue with it - our Lodge Advisor was quite enthusiastic about wanting to get more AIA in the Lodge, so I don't anticipate an issue. It might be more convincing the Packs it's still okay to use our "splinter business entity" for their ceremonies ;)

 

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The only two caveats I would have for going an "alternative route" would be to have a serious review of your Crossover/AOL ceremony to ensure that it is appropriate and does not use or promote stereotyping of N/A culture; and, make sure that any regalia is as spot on as possible for your local area. The ubiquitous 'ribbon shirt' is certainly okay in a pinch or where the local custom (due to climate, etc.) is to go bare-chested and wear a just a breachclout - use your judgement and common sense. 

Some of the worst offenders I've seen on things like YouTube is when all four Principals appear in full blown double trailer war bonnets - just because they may be cool to wear, doesn't mean you should. Again, research, research, research! Something like that would constitute a legitimate complaint by a N/A tribe/group. If you can't quite come up with appropriate headgear for various reasons (cost, availability of supplies, etc.), better not to wear anything than the glaringly wrong thing.  

OK - Off my soapbox :)

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My guess, from my liberal Northern California perspective (😃) is that for Arrow of Light/Crossover ceremonies, there are parents who are not involved in Scouting who can take offense to the regalia. Taking the time to explain in detail the history and role of the OA isn't practical and takes away from the Webelos.  I think it is fine to just wear the uniform and sash when supporting these ceremonies.

I would hate to see any loss of the Native American culture within the OA due to similar reasons.

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I still fail to see why the sash is to be worn.  What does the OA have to do with either of the new " ceremonies"?

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2 minutes ago, Oldscout448 said:

I still fail to see why the sash is to be worn.  What does the OA have to do with either of the new " ceremonies"?

If the crossover is being conducted by the OA, then the sash is appropriate. 

Plus the OA is looking at different ways it can be of service and be more visible to the Cub program. Wearing the sash at crossovers is just one more way to be more visible to them. 

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3 hours ago, HelpfulTracks said:

If the crossover is being conducted by the OA, then the sash is appropriate. 

Plus the OA is looking at different ways it can be of service and be more visible to the Cub program. Wearing the sash at crossovers is just one more way to be more visible to them. 

Would it not be much more appropriate for a crossover to be conducted by the troop into which the cub is entering?   Preferably his den chief, rather than some scout wearing a white sash that the cub has never seen before and in all probability will never see again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Oldscout448 said:

Would it not be much more appropriate for a crossover to be conducted by the troop into which the cub is entering?   Preferably his den chief, rather than some scout wearing a white sash that the cub has never seen before and in all probability will never see again.

Depends...

If we go with the OA as a the Society of Honor Campers, then I think there is a place for the OA to take a role here.   Theoretically, OA members are some of the absolute best examples of Scouts in the district.  Who better to inspire new Scouts than our best examples of what it means to be a Scout?  Further, in theory, the OA has practiced the new script and can perform it in an inspriational way.  

Yes, your point is well taken.  There is no reason why a troop cannot serve much the same role.  There are also very good reaons for a troop to do this.  As you mention, the Scouts in the troop are probably known to those AOL scouts and even to many of the other Cub Scouts watching the ceremony.

So, I'll go back to depends.  Both can do an admirable job.  A specialzed team from the OA and a group of Scouts from the local troop.  I think that then it depends more on what message the Cubmaster wants to send with the Crossover ceremony.  

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10 hours ago, Oldscout448 said:

Would it not be much more appropriate for a crossover to be conducted by the troop into which the cub is entering?   Preferably his den chief, rather than some scout wearing a white sash that the cub has never seen before and in all probability will never see again.

 

It used to depend on the script(s) that the OA was using. Some of the scripts I've used had the OA do both ceremonies. Some scripts has the OA do all of the AOL, and worked with the SPL/Troop for the Cross Over. And a few scripts had the OA do all of the AOL, then turn over the Cross Over Ceremony to the Scouts.

 

14 hours ago, Oldscout448 said:

I still fail to see why the sash is to be worn.  What does the OA have to do with either of the new " ceremonies"?

With the new skits ceremonies, I agree, they can be done by anyone.  With the old ceremonies, there was something special about having the OA show up in regalia, and the sash was part of that ceremonial regalia. I know when the Indian Lore MB students came and did my youngest son's AOL ceremony, it was so quiet yo could hear a pin drop! Everyone was paying attention.

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Posted (edited)

I haven't asked my two adult kids who were in OA during their Scouting years what they think, and never having been a member of the OA I'm not sure I'm entitled to an opinion, but I have one nonetheless. 

I admit I feel a little sad and nostalgic about removing the NA elements from the Cub Scout ceremonies. I really enjoyed them when each of my kids earned their AOLs (which by the way was separate from crossover which was done by the troops they were joining). But at the same time, I think it was time. The culture is changing, like it or not, and there's too much baggage with this. 

But I really don't like the new skits. And yes, they are skits. Our local OA has determined they hate it so much they will not be attending ANY cub scout ceremonies until/unless the rules have changed. I don't think they're insisting on NA-inspired ceremonies (I didn't ask) but they are asking for some freedom of creativity. And now that I've seen the skits, I can't blame them. 

What I'd love to say is that each group *performing the ceremonies* needs to use elements from their own cultures, or else generic/contemporary American ceremonies that don't point to anything in particular. Got a group of Arrowmen who are actually tribe members? Great, they can do a ceremony that is meaningful to their own tribe if they would like to, or something generic. A group of Arrowmen who take particular pride in their own African, Pacific Islander, or other heritages? Awesome. Build some ceremonies that are meaningful to their own roots, drawing on the traditions and/or mythologies they learn from their own parents and grandparents. Are your Arrowmen generic White European Americans? You know, there are lots of great legends and traditions out of Europe that could be drawn on, which could be very enlightening to research and create ceremonies around. For girl packs crossing over into female troops, something based off the legends of the Celtic goddess of horses would be amazing. Got a diverse group of Arrowmen? Create a ceremony where each Arrowman is representing his own culture, or go for something more contemporary and don't draw on historic cultures at all. In all cases, give the OA ceremonialists some freedom of creativity while establishing guidelines against cultural appropriation. 

In the meantime, we'll figure something out without the OA. And if ceremonialism is dropped from the OA entirely, well, change happens. Neither of my older kids were ever involved in ceremonial stuff. They were first for the service focus, and second for the camping. There's still a lot to be said for the OA without that one element. I'll be encouraging my daughter to aim towards OA or female equivalent  if she's so inclined, with or without the ceremonial trappings. 

Edited by Liz

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On 3/16/2019 at 8:03 PM, Liz said:

...And if ceremonialism is dropped from the OA entirely, well, change happens...

Throughout this whole thing I've kept thinking there's no reason we should have to drop ceremony from the OA entirely. It just needs to change, and maybe not all that much. To me, the mystique of the ceremonies was always the draw. We leaned heavily on the Native American themes, but you could create that same vibe with other themes. Not every club, organization, "secret society", etc that uses ceremonies uses cultural themes, and they still manage to create a similar vibe as OA without them.

I don't know exactly what this would look like, what our new theme could be, but I feel like it's possible to keep the ceremonies and do it in a way that doesn't infringe on any particular culture. Just need to put some thought into it.

One thing I hope folks keep in mind is that not everything is "cultural appropriation". I've heard comments about images of arrows and tomahawks being appropriated, but those tools were never exclusively Native American. Other cultures globally used similar tools historically, some probably before Native Americans. I think there are only a few key pieces of NA culture that we need to be respectful of and avoid using, but some of the OA program and symbolism is already well within the bounds of being culturally neutral.

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I think that's an important point, FireStone. Arrows, especially, are a pretty much universal image. Most cultures throughout history have used some kind of arrow. There is a great deal of symbolism in the arrow, as well as a number of mythological references that can be pulled from that use that imagery. 

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Looks like folks in my neck of the woods are asking individuals to do these ceremonies as NO ONE (emphasis) like the new national scripts and the local chapter refuses to due them as they are embarrased just reading them. I am a Southern Straight dancer and was just asked if I could do a ceremony for an event.

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On ‎3‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 11:27 AM, FireStone said:

Throughout this whole thing I've kept thinking there's no reason we should have to drop ceremony from the OA entirely. It just needs to change, and maybe not all that much. To me, the mystique of the ceremonies was always the draw. We leaned heavily on the Native American themes, but you could create that same vibe with other themes. Not every club, organization, "secret society", etc that uses ceremonies uses cultural themes, and they still manage to create a similar vibe as OA without them.

I don't know exactly what this would look like, what our new theme could be, but I feel like it's possible to keep the ceremonies and do it in a way that doesn't infringe on any particular culture. Just need to put some thought into it.

One thing I hope folks keep in mind is that not everything is "cultural appropriation". I've heard comments about images of arrows and tomahawks being appropriated, but those tools were never exclusively Native American. Other cultures globally used similar tools historically, some probably before Native Americans. I think there are only a few key pieces of NA culture that we need to be respectful of and avoid using, but some of the OA program and symbolism is already well within the bounds of being culturally neutral.

Agreed.  A lot of over the top assumptions on what is being culturally appropriated.  Wearing war paint, doing chants, that could be cultural appropriation (especially if the chant is nothing but actual gibberish, if even the words are truly from a native language).  I still maintain that what the OA needs to do is reign in the usage of regalia that is based on anything other than Lenni Lenape- the principals in the ceremonies are LL; not Sioux, not Seminole, not Tacoma, etc.  That gives a far greater opportunity to have consistency in application and instruction, so that we don't begin to go outside of the lines.    

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Looks like folks in my neck of the woods are asking individuals to do these ceremonies as NO ONE (emphasis) like the new national scripts and the local chapter refuses to due them as they are embarrased just reading them. I am a Southern Straight dancer and was just asked if I could do a ceremony for an event.

My son did his last one of the season Monday.  The pack wanted AoL ceremony only as the kids have already crossed over (we'll put aside that hot mess for this thread).  Quite literally was 7 minutes, start to finish (we spent almost an hour driving to get to the ceremony!).  Our lodge had used a script that had a narrative of Akela in past years, and that ceremony was about 12-16 minutes long, without the bridging.  Length of ceremony itself is not important, but that there is some actual "ceremony" in the ceremony is, and the new AoL script is a rambling mess.  I have seen no AoL scout, nor parent, express any comment of a nature that shows the ceremony was meaningful to them this year.  In years past, there would always be at least one scout/parent that would go out of their way to approach the ceremonialists with a positive comment.  My son is thinking of running as VC of Inductions for next year, just to put these scripts out of their misery.  

Edited by HashTagScouts
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I understand the directive to no longer have Native American references. 

Given how ridiculous the new script is, I'd be inclined to write my own.  I'd follow the sprit of the rule, but not the letter.  Has anyone with an OA ceremony team here tried writing their own script that does not use Native American references? 

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