OA Lodge History Initiative makes sure no story is forgotten

Storytelling is a vital part of American Indian culture, in which true tales are passed from one generation to the next.

It’s similarly important in the Order of the Arrow, the Scouting honor society that uses American Indian-style traditions and ceremonies.

That’s why the Order of the Arrow Lodge History Initiative is so vital. The project, timed in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the OA in 2015, aims to preserve each lodge’s unique story to make sure it’s never lost to the erosion of time.

The National Scouting Museum has partnered with the “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt Trust to sponsor the OA Lodge History Initiative.

Robert Mason, a young Divinity student at Duke University, has organized efforts to have all 300 OA lodges produce a lodge history.

Mason’s team publishes a monthly email newsletter, “The Historian Gazette,” to help guide local lodge historians and their advisors. On the first Sunday evening of each month, a topical webinar is held as a means to bring together lodge historians. Topics thus far have included “How to Get Started,” “How to Interview People,” “Writing Fundamentals,” “Basics of Editing” and “Dealing with Sensitive Topics.”

Mason says that to date about 150 lodge historians and adult advisors have been reached. However, more are needed.

Where you come in

Make sure your lodge’s unique history is never forgotten by ensuring participation in this important project.

Learn more at the Lodge History Book website.

H/T Thanks to National Scouting Museum Director Janice Babineaux for the post idea.


    • Brian, lodges are being asked to cover their predecessor lodge histories. For example, National Capital Area Council and the Virgin Islands Council recently merged which merged Amangamek-Wipit Lodge and Arawak Lodge. The resulting lodge was Amangamek-Wipit Lodge, and they should cover the history of both Amangamek-Wipit and Arawak lodges.

  1. Has there been an article published on the web regarding the meaning and purpose of the BSA OA taking on the tradition of emulating the Native American culture? As we get more Native American kids joining Cub Scouts in my area of the Pacific Northwest, I’m hearing more complaints from Native American parents regarding the “characterization” of the Native American culture by non Native people during OA and Cross Over events. I would like to share any article that better describes why OA operates the way they do.

    • Thanks, Dave. Some lodges handle such issues better than others. Nationally, the OA receives good marks from leaders of the American Indian community but, frankly, the blessing of living in a diverse America means not everyone agrees on cultural issues. I’m going to pass your comment along to OA leadership to see if they have further comments.

    • Dave,

      As Nelson Block has stated, it varies from OA lodge to OA lodge, as well as Native American community to Native American Community. Some lodges do a great job, others I am even embarrased. Also some Native American communities are very supportive and have a relationship with Scouts, others do not want anything to do with them.

      Don’t know how involved you are with the local OA chapter or lodge, but if you are here are some ideas that may help with the situation.

      1) Do some research on the local community.

      2) With a VERY humble attitude, go out to local events, i.e. powwows, festivals, etc. and talk to folks.

      2A) If you get a chance to talk to tribal elders and leaders, DO SO!

      3) Invite them to OA events.

      4) LISTEN TO THEM! If they find something offensive, not only find out why, but find out how they would rectify the situation.

      5) Find out how you can help them. This can be a big deal and win over their support.One lodge I was in developed such a relationship with a local, state recognized tribe, that we had members and past members helping them with the research needed for them to gain federal recognition.

      In your specific case with local folks upset with the characterization, can you be more specific? Is it because the regalia is more Delaware or generic Plains, aka “Hollywood” Indian, or are there other issues?

  2. Merged lodges histories should be told as a part of the new lodge. So if lodges X, Y and Z merge to become Lodge ABC, Lodge ABC’s History should have a chapter or a section that goes into detail on each lodge. This may get tricky in the current era of super mergers but it can be done.

  3. As a member of both the Order, as well as the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, I am especially looking forward to reading about the history of Lodge #541, Mic-O-Say Lodge, of Western Colorado Council that actually started as part of the Tribe, and later converted to an OA lodge. Their pocket flap features the insignia of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, their claws.

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