Re: BSA and Native Americans
JESSICA...THAT ROSE GIRL (STURYAN@EKU.BITNET)
Sat, 16 May 1992 18:53:00 EDT
Hi--this is me on my honies' account--I peered over her shoulder (one thing
she doesn't like for me to do) and saw this note and thought I'd better
throw in my 2.5 cents worth...
Your question was talking about concerns of the BSA particularly the OA
in conducting ceremonies and dances which *seem* to resemble that of Native
American culture. Here it is, straight from the OA handbook, (and for those
of you who have your hymnals, please turn to page 114...and start after
Indian culture) (all references to Indian are from the book which needs to be
rewritten to reflect Native American). Yes, I have sent the note to Mr.
Downs at the National Office to ask them to do so, thank you...
"A dance team is not the most important or necessary part of the Order's
organization. The majority of the lodge's time should be spent as E. Urner
Goodman (the founder of the OA) recommended, "strengthening the Scout movement
as an out-of-door experience".
...dances that have religious themes must be avoided. National BSA policies
on religion *require* that a Scout express his belief in a Supreme Being and
that he respects the beliefs of others. It is best expressed in the last part
of (the 12th point of the Scout Law)...a Scout is reverent, "...respects the
convictions of others in matters of custom and religion"
...For this reason, any dance that has religious connotations, should not be
used by Scouts. Many Indian dances were performed for religious purposes.
This constitutes an expression of religious custom. A non-believer cannot
perform a sacred dance without degrading or insulting the original religious
intent. If you're responsibility for advising dance teams, you must help
eliminate the use of religious dances.
...Scouts doing religious dances in local performances are the reasons for most
complaints by Indians...One type of religious dance is Masked
includes the use of katchinas, false faces, northwest coast masks, and many
others). A second group often that is used by Scouts are pipe ceremonies
invoking Spirits. Petitions to a higher power make up the third group. These
include blessings, thanksgiving prayers for rain, food, or a good harvest. The
most abused dance from this group is the Hopi Snake Dance. All these dances
should be avoided even though they may be favored by young dancers who judge
the merits of a dance only by the action opportunities it presents.
...Doing religious dances is not socially acceptable because it infringes on
the rights of Indian worship."
When I first entered the Order, I was very concerned from a personal stand-
point as to where the ceremonies came from and whether or not I was going to
be "indoctrinated" into a new religion because of my participation. After
receiving the OA Handbook, looking it over, and talking to other Arrowmen
I have come to the conclusion that the ceremonies are safe, do not infringe
on the rights of Native Americans, or any other persons attending or partici-
pating in the ceremony and reflect what the Scout Oath and Scout Law is about.
I say this because I have to turn around and convince other African Americans
(Black Americans) that the OA is safe and is not a cult organization within
the Boy Scout Movement.
Settummanque!! (on a stolen keyboard)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City