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Use/Abuse of Native culture in Arrow of Light Ceremony


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#41 epalmer84

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 01:48 PM

As I understand it, the standard OA ceremonies are vetted by tribal elders and variations of the script are not allowed. Perhaps the same should be done for the AOL ceremony. Ed P.
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#42 MikeS

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 09:54 AM

I've been reading with interest the various views regarding the use of American Native culture in the BSA and OA. It's quite a heated topic and opinions are strong on both sides. I don't wish to add to the arguement but I must say that if NA terms, and imagery are to be used, at least have the common courtesy to learn what is right and what is wrong, what is appropriate and what is considered very offensive. I was quite shocked, for example, to learn that most Lnape terms used in the OA are not even close to what the correct Lnape words actually are to say nothing of how they are pronounced or even used! Indeed, many of the words found in OA nomenclature are either entirely made up or are grammatically very incorrect to the point of making aboslutely no sense(including the WWW and the "Admonition" - sorry folks). I would encourage anyone involved in portraying native culture to at least research it enough and get opinions (if possible),as some have done here, of local Nations. As to not finding some of the AoL and OA ceremonies offensive, let me ask a rhetorical question posed by a few (Native) people I've talked to.... If a group of people from a hypothetical island which had a respected youth group were to construct a replica of a European church and hold initiation ceremonies for that group loosely based on the Christian (be it RC or Protestant) Mass, complete with the leader attired in "proper" priest's/pastor's vestments would you find that offensive?? This post is not meant to "bash" anyone, just food for thought....
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#43 sandspur

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:49 AM

First of all, I am not surprised at terms which may or may not have been from the Lenape language are mispronounced. How many native speakers are there today and how many lodges have access to them? There is no disrespect intended. To give another example, many Latin-origin words are mispronounced and misspelled today, even by the US government in official documents (I will not bore you with examples). As far as the example of a group using Christian imagery in a ceremony causing offense... I doubt it if no offense was intended. It actually happens to some extent. Some common imagery of the age of chivalry, knights errant etc. is historically wrong. Few people get upset. In fact, few people even if their ancestry is from that background understand their past well enough to recognize a glitch. Vikings for example did not wear cow horns on their helmets, but did you ever see someone with a Nordic ancestry picketing over that? A co-worker of mine who is Lakota and proud of her heritage told me she wouldnt know an authentic Lakota ceremony from, say, the 1700s if it walked up and bit her. She has been told much of what she sees at Lakota gatherings today is an amalgam of Lakota, Dakota, and even eastern seaboard tribal origin (at least according to her grandmother). What is authentic in a society governed by oral tradition depends to some extent on which living memory of that oral tradition you consult and how seriously that person takes your question. Lastly, there is a lot of politics and individual opinion involved in how Native Americans see the issue and there is no one common viewpoint. A well-known Native American (Lakota) journalist in my neck of the woods periodically publishes opinion pieces on how sports teams named after Native Americans should be banned as offensive. When informed that the Seminoles had officially blessed the use of their name by the team and university in Florida, he responded by publically attacking the Seminole tribal council as turncoats and traitors to (his) view of what Native Americans should be. Moral: You cant please everyone. Just look in your own heart and see if the intent is respectful or mocking and go from there.
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#44 Eagle92

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 11:14 AM

In reference tot he Lanape language, yep there are challenges with pronunciation, and spelling for that matter. if you look at the origins of our modern pronuncuation of Lanape, there were three separate indiviuals involved in the process, 1 Englishman, 1 German, and 1 I forgot. Anytime you try to translate a language, your own language will play a part. Latin is a good example b/c Roman Latin is different than modern Latin. Latin non est mortalis, est immortalis!
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#45 BSA24

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 01:05 AM

I've been in the OA for decades. I think the native american stuff is lame and I stay away from the dancing and ceremonies because I think it is absurd. I am in the OA to give cheerful service. I enjoy doing my part to keep camps running and repair things around the scout reservation. The indian junk I could do without. I know that for every Lakota screaming that we are violating their sacred culture there is a Cherokee in the OA saying this is all cool, but it still feels stupid to see black and white kids standing around in headdresses trying to talk like Graham Greene. It's time to let that stuff go, imo. As for Cub Scout ceremonies - why is anyone having solemn, serious ceremonies? It's cub scouts? We laugh during ours. When we cross boys over, we talk casually during the ceremony to the kids - not try to make it a military medal presentation by badly reading from scripts. I think pirates and jedi would be a cool crossover ceremony. I think inviting the OA in to do it is a huge wet blanket. Those are slow and generally offensive and uncomfortable for most 21st century educated americans.
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#46 qwazse

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:58 AM

So, if the boys dressed in Star Trek uniforms and gave accommodation from the Galactic Federation, would you be less offended? If a native American actor puts on a Bishop's robe to play some part that he finds noble about our culture, should we be offended? I could go over the pros of imitating the good we see in other cultures ..., but let's leave it at this: It's fun. Lighten up.
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#47 ScoutNut

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 10:40 AM

>>"I think inviting the OA in to do it is a huge wet blanket. Those are slow and generally offensive and uncomfortable for most 21st century educated americans."
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#48 Engineer61

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 10:58 AM

"So, if the boys dressed in Star Trek uniforms and gave accommodation from the Galactic Federation, would you be less offended? " No ... because the base story line is fiction. OA mimics (usually badly) Native Americans, which is not fiction. With a Star Wars theme ... Scouts would likely have a huge upsurge in enrollment. I remember my Scout's crossover...it was incredibly embarrassing to watch, even my Scout turned away during some parts of it.(This message has been edited by Engineer61)
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#49 Eagle92

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 01:44 PM

It all really depends upon the ceremony team and the script they are using. Have I seen cheesy regalia and cheesy performance, yes. Have I seen cheesey regalia and good performance, yes. have I seen awesome reagalia and cheesy performance yes. Have I seen awesome reagalia and awesome performance. You better beleive I have and it was inspirational. The problem is the concept of the "Hollywood Indian," and it's so prevelent that some folks, when they do authentic, period regalia, they do not beleive it is real and that a lot of research has gone into it.
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#50 drmbear

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 03:27 PM

The main idea is to put on a ceremony that has more to it than a ziploc bag and a handshake. There are lots of ceremonies that I do that have nothing at all to do with "facts" or "authentic," but I certainly try to make them memorable and fun. This is Cub Scouts, not the inauguration of a Surpreme Court Justice (I was going to say President, but I was afraid someone would start commenting on the comedy aspects of that!).
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#51 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 03:38 PM

I also believe this generation does not have the emotional attachment to indian/frontier motifs as a while back. It has been a long time since coonskin hats were big sellers.
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#52 BSA24

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 11:37 AM

>>All of the Cubs in our Pack really love the OA American Indian ceremonies. Perhaps your OA Ceremony Team simply needs to do a better job. Or maybe our Pack is just full of UN-educated folks. Although I would bet that most of us uneducated yokels at least know enough to capitalize "Americans".
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#53 BSA24

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 11:45 AM

>>The problem is the concept of the "Hollywood Indian," and it's so prevelent that some folks, when they do authentic, period regalia, they do not beleive it is real and that a lot of research has gone into it.
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#54 johnponz

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 12:08 PM

My understanding is that the ceromonies have been clreared by rerpresentatives of the Indian tribes. If they have cleared them why do we all have a problem with them. Seems like a bit self rightous to me.
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#55 johnponz

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 12:08 PM

My understanding is that the ceromonies have been clreared by rerpresentatives of the Indian tribes. If they have cleared them why do we all have a problem with them. Seems like a bit self rightous to me.
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#56 shortridge

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 12:51 PM

BSA24 - Why were adults (a) dressing up as Indians or (b) dancing? Adults in the OA should be doing nothing of the sort. ponz - Arrow of Light or crossover ceremonies are often developed locally, and not necessarily "screened."
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#57 johnponz

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:15 PM

Point taken. I was talking about OA ceromonys not AOL. My fault for missing the title of the thread.
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#58 johnponz

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:15 PM

Point taken. I was talking about OA ceromonys not AOL. My fault for missing the title of the thread.
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#59 johnponz

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:15 PM

Point taken. I was talking about OA ceromonys not AOL. My fault for missing the title of the thread.
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#60 Eagle92

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 05:24 PM

BSA, There are folks who do the right thing in regards to Native Americans, regalia, and ceremonies. But there are challenges: folks don't want to do the research to do the regalia right, folks don't want to spend the time or money to make or buy the items as authentic as possible ( i.e. a 18' hair roach at Crazy Crow goes for $290 for deer hair on the outside only and $345 for deer hair in and out). And some folks just get frustrated when they do things correctly and people tell them "that ain't an Indian costume." (had that happen one time when I was in my dance regalia). And yes there are Native American who have complaints against the OA, but there are also for who are not only for it, but even help promote Native American Culture within the OA. I won't go into details here, but check a few of my other threads on this topic and you can read about my first hand experiences with Native Americans helping the OA do things right. In regards to Adults and ceremonies and dancing. Correct in that adults do not dress in regalia and do ceremonies. They also cannot compete BUT they can dress out and dance at event powwows. Someof the most fun I had was after a day of judging dance competion, dancing at the powwow that night after the arena show.
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