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Burnside

Use/Abuse of Native culture in Arrow of Light Ceremony

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BSA24< I have to ask based on what you said:

 

"It isn't like dressing up like police officers or soldiers, knights or jedi, or other generalized roles which existed across cultures. We're picking a nation of people, and mocking them."

 

Which people? Native Americans is not a single group or identity. There are many different groups and tribes of NA.

 

That mother you spoke of said you dressed like her enemy. Well, it seems that she assumed that you were only supposed to dress as her group or tribe did. Suppose yoiu dressed perfectly to her culture, would you not offend another tribe or NA heritage?

 

But let's go further, if you dress as a Jedi Knight.....isn't it possible you might offend the ultra religeous ? Jedi's use the force which can be construed as witchcraft or sorcery .

 

A soldier? Uh oh! Now you are a paramilitary grouip? Or maybe a militia? Or how about a small anarchist faction?

 

Wait just a minute! You dress up? The fact you dress in anything at all may offend nudists!

 

You have a leather belt or shoes? Might offend vegans!

 

You use electricity? Might offend a Puritan or Amish family.

 

Plastic? Greenpeace might put you on their list!

 

The fact you have a Native American who is not caucasion European might offend the Arian Nation.

 

Man, if you even wake up and breath - you are offending somebody.

 

Might as well fold your unit and just be more careful.

 

Or, you just do what you can with good intentions and tell people that imitation is the sincerest form of flatery.

 

And tell them the program is bout the youth, not the parents.

 

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Eagle 92, That may have been the best post I have ever read on this forum. I am truly proud to call you a Brother.

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>>Eagle 92, That may have been the best post I have ever read on this forum. I am truly proud to call you a Brother.

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Eagle92's excellent article is one I would agree with.

 

First off, yeah, there are a LOT of arrowmen who have horrible outfit and poor knowledge.

 

There ARE, however, many arrowmen who have great knowledge. Some (like me) are amateur historians/anthropologists and work hard to research things and share our knowledge. Several of us work with professionals in the field AND some of the local tribes, many of who respect us for the work we do. Many arrowmen are involved in historical re-enactments, many alongside 'real' native americans, and they don't have an issue with what we do and often appreciate the research work we do.

 

AND I do know of several arrowmen who have gone off and become professional historians and anthropologists, and I think their interest was due to their exposure in scouting & the OA.

 

One I know of is J. Anthony Paredes, who was a scout & arrowmen in Central Florida and who has done research on several southeastern tribe and whose work I believe helped the Poarch Creek Tribe get federal recognition.

 

Jason Jackson is another arrowmen I know of from Florida who is now a anthropology professor.

 

David Blackard is a another arrowmen who is a professional anthropologist and worked for many years for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

 

And there are several others like them out there.

 

 

 

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Has anyone seen the Troop 232 Koshare Indian Dancers in La Junta Colorado? Do a google search, these guys are impressive. Its a perfect overnight stop on your way to Pilmont. I haven't been there in about 15 years, but they used to charge each scout $1.00 to sleep and shower in their gym. For another $1.00 you get to watch an hours worth of fancy dancing which ranks up there with the pros in the Oklahoma Red Earth Festival. Several hundred Eagles have come out of that troop as well. Very cool.

 

Barry

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Ripley Rendezvous, Minnesota (Camp Ripley) 2007.

Native americans and enthusiasts of other cultures are doing a demonstraton of costumes and competition dancing. They are encouraging middle aged white guys (me) to step into the circle and learn some dance steps. They tell us that in high level competitions that there are wild free form non traditional dancers, and very traditional dancers, and dancers in between, in definite divisions. Not all competitors are Native American.

They caution us about doing religous dances,(don't!) but encourage us to dance our hearts out and wear anything we want as celebratory expression. After that, I'll never have a problem with celebratory expression by anyone in any authenticity level of costume. What see in our area is that the ceremony teams grow in authenticity in time, and have an intellectual curiosity about the historical sources of true NA traditions. I've seen OA literature and saw stuff about researching the traditions and types of garb for the tribes that were in your geographical area, and try to create ceremony clothing like that. It works for me.

WWW

Jay, Brotherhood

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I think this all depends on who is doing the ceremony -- and who is viewing it. When I was growing up on the East Coast I never gave a second thought to the Indian themes because I had never met any Native Americans. Later, when I moved to the Midwest, my awareness was raised. There is a difference between actual Native tribes who sponsor units and use their own ceremonies, and non-Indians trying to do such ceremonies. People might not intend to be offensive but sometimes it does happen.

 

In our pack we have a mixed race family who are part Ojibwa and the boys' mother does NOT like white people dressing up as Indians. She sees it as being like people wearing blackface. I wrote a more universal ceremony based on Jacob's Ladder, which in Jewish mysticism, has seven rungs (similar to the seven chakras, for those of you who know yoga.) They are not exactly the Seven Virtues that some packs use, but similar enough so I was able to combine the two traditions. The arrows we award in our ceremony represent being straight and true -- a good straight arrow hits the target, etc. This is universal enough that everyone can relate to it. I just posted the whole ceremony on my blog at JewishThoreau.com. Feel free to use and/or adapt it.

 

There are alternative Arrow ceremonies out there, if you search the Web you'll find a lot of different ones written by various packs, some serious and some, in my opinion, bordering on the ridiculous. But if it works for them, then why not?. I think the important thing is for it to be meaningful for the boys and the families who are participating. This is something that can only really be decided by your own pack committee.

 

 

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JewishScout, first of all, welcome to the forums. Interesting account name you have there. I used to be a Jewish Scout myself. (That was so long ago, my patrol leader was Moses. Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.) Now I am a Jewish Scouter. (Not as a formal title of course; just a Scouter who happens to be Jewish.)

 

I just want to make sure you are aware that you have "resurrected" an old thread here. Which is fine, but some people may have different reactions to it, and if there is not a lot of commentary in response to yours, that may be one reason. This thread was started in 2008, and the last post (before yours) was in 2012. In the first couple of pages I see some names of people who have not posted in this forum in a long, long time. I have not looked at the later pages; who knows, I may be in there somewhere myself. So, as I said, there may or may not be interest in discussing this again. And again, welcome, and I hope you will comment in some of our more recently-started discussions.

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JS,

 

1) WELCOME TO DA FORUMS! (And yes, that is me screaming at ya in a welcoming manner.)

 

2) The use of Native American culture in Scouting goes back to the very beginnings of the Scouting Movement in 1907, and some would say even before with Burnhill's influence on B-P, Seton's Woodcraft Indians, etc.

 

3) The perception of Scouting within the Native American community varies from individual to individual. I've met folks who had reservations about Boy Scouts and their use of Native American culture, and I have had others rejoice and gladly shared with us. See post # 76 for info on how BSA has helped Native American communities.

 

4) This conversation reminded me of an incident that happened after I wrote that post above. I was asked to teach Indian Lore MB at a merit badge college. Part of the reason I taught the class was OA related as we were trying to re-establish the Lodge American Indian Affairs (AIA) committee. I've found folks get interested in AIA through Indian Lore Merit Badge.

 

I went all out on it. I brought the stuff I made, the reproductions, actual artifacts, everything I owned and some of the OA's stuff too. As Scouts are coming in they are looking at stuff, and you can tell they are really stating to get into it, and I am proud of all the work that went into setting up the room and getting ready for the class. Then a knot got into my stomach, and I felt like a ton of bricks hit me when I saw a Lakota Sioux lady walk into the room. She told me she wanted to see what was involved in doing the merit badge and "audit" my class. Talk about stressful. Here's someone who could not only teach the class, but could do a heck of a lot better job than I could becasue it is her culture!

 

She sat quietly in the back, not saying a word until there was I question I could not answer, and stated as such. Then she raised her hand, asked if she could answer it, and then proceeded to answer the Scout's question ( that's how I found out she was Lakota). She then sat down and continued to say nothing.

 

After class we talked. She told me she signed up to be a MBC for the merit badge, but wanted to see what the BSA was teaching, and what was expected of her as an MBC. She was impressed by what I knew and taught the kids. But more importantly she was impressed by my honesty in saying that I don't know answers, and how I suggested the Scouts look for the answers themselves (go to a powwow or other cultural event, being respectful, offering a small gift of tobacco to an elder to answer the question, and be willing for the elder to not answer the question if it involved religious or cultural significance).

 

Her biggest concern was one you indirectly expressed, the notion of "Hollywood Indian" stereotypes of the 1950s and 60s. She saw that in Cub Scouts and wanted to know if that was something the BSA taught. She was glad she could teach the right way to do things.

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...and how I suggested the Scouts look for the answers themselves (go to a powwow or other cultural event' date=' being respectful, offering a small gift of tobacco to an elder to answer the question, and be willing for the elder to not answer the question if it involved religious or cultural significance).[/quote']

 

Um... a person who has no Native American ancestry whatsoever is respectfully raising his hand with a couple of questions.

 

Are you also telling the Scouts that the actual obtaining/purchasing of the tobacco products, as well as carrying them and handing them to the elder, should be done by an adult who has accompanied the Scouts to the cultural event?

 

Is there some other acceptable gift item, one that would be appropriate for a Scout to obtain and possess?

 

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Slowly shaking my head.... It's not like a kid is going to take a pack of Camels out of the smokes pocket on his uniform sleeve, shake up a couple of coffin nails and light up with the guy...

 

NJ, I absolutely get your point and understand the potential firestorm which could arise from kids presenting a gift of tobacco to an elder, but how sad is that. It would be like your inviting my family to Seder and me making a fuss of my children to sipping the wine.

 

OBTW, in my tribe/clan the elders prefer gifts of single-malt whisky.

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It only goes to show how ignorant people appear when they try to duplicate the norms of another society when they are imitating stereotypes. There has to be a better way of presenting the program without exploiting others.

 

Stosh

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I was taught the gift is a sign of respect and it's good manners to do. I was told pipe tobacco is the best gift as there are religious and purification uses for it. Sweetgrass is another item that is good to get, but harder to get. Alcohol is a no-no, but other drinks and food are OK.

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Slowly shaking my head.... It's not like a kid is going to take a pack of Camels out of the smokes pocket on his uniform sleeve, shake up a couple of coffin nails and light up with the guy...

 

NJ, I absolutely get your point and understand the potential firestorm which could arise from kids presenting a gift of tobacco to an elder, but how sad is that. It would be like your inviting my family to Seder and me making a fuss of my children to sipping the wine.

 

TwoCub, it probably is not the first time I have caused people someone to slowly shake their head on the subject of tobacco and/or smoking in this forum, and it probably won't be the last. I realize I am somewhat of a "hard-liner" on the subject.

 

I am not suggesting there would be a "firestorm." (Where there's smoking there's a firestorm? I'm so funny.) And I don't know what the Scouts are going to do. I was basically just asking whether there are alternatives.

 

As for my family's Passover Seder, the children are provided with grape juice when it's time to drink the "wine." (I didn't come up with that, it was the custom in my family from before I was even around to drink the grape juice.) If an older teenager wanted a sip of actual wine, it wouldn't be a problem. But that's a controlled situation, in private, at home. And the person who bought the wine is of legal drinking age.

 

I really didn't mean to make a "big deal" out of this. It just sort of struck me as odd. But I also appreciate Eagle providing the information about this Native American custom, of which I was not aware previously.

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