I hope this article finds folks managing and staying strong during such a rough period in our history as Americans. With so much stress and negative news being reported, I find myself having to constantly remind myself to stay positive. I truly believe that we all have more in common with each other than what the news seems to tell us. I encourage us to be the light that is needed and step up as leaders to how important it is to remember to Love One Another, seek to understand everyone’s perspectives, and even if they differ, maintain respect and civility to each other.
I was so happy to see Camp Geronimo open up and “kudos” to Grand Canyon Council staff and leadership for incorporating and awesome playbook that focused on the safety of the campers and staff. I was able to visit camp one day and witness the protocols and measures implemented. As a parent of a camper, I felt great knowing my son was safe.
This country is going through a time where there are a lot of questions surrounding the sensitivity of cultural traditions. I wanted to address how the Order of the Arrow has worked with various Native American leaders and organizations, in order to make sure we are honoring traditions in order to sustain our program.
For years the National OA program has invited American Indians to staff and participate in our national American Indian Activities (AIA) programs and provide essential feedback regarding our use of regalia, song, and dance. The OA works closely, on a regular basis, with advisors from the American Indian community to ensure our songs, dances and ceremonies are appropriate for youth and reflect the sensitivity of respect we all fee for our American Indian brethren.
Several years ago the National Committee established the American Indian adviser team, composed of American Indian Scouters and American Indian non-Scouters, to guide our leadership with making respectful decisions regarding American Indian culture. This team consisted of approximately 24 leaders of various tribes and Native American Groups, and all have endorsed the current methods and activities utilized by the Order of the Arrow.
Since 2000, with the input from the American Indian community, we developed Guidelines and Rules to govern our Dance and sing programs which can be found in the Field Officers Guide (FOG) located on the OA national web page. Our song and dance programs are centered around Powwow type dance styles and prohibit any type of dance/song which is considered offensive.
In addition, we are excited that the OA will have a representative on the BSA National Cultural Appropriation task force.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I realize all of us are dealing with different hardships and challenges with Covid and racial tensions. I encourage us to be the light this world needs. We should not just live the scout oath and law while in the uniform…but do so in our daily lives. The world needs our example.
Yours in Scouting
Wipala Wiki Lodge Adviser