August 23, 2009

Scouts perform Cherokee dances

Local Boy Scouts win national competition

By Beth BeasleyBackstage, dressed in turbans and full Cherokee regalia, the boys were feeling jittery about how they’d do competing for the National Order of the Arrow Championship in Native American dance.

But later that night, as they strutted a victory dance in front of 7,000 people in an Indiana stadium, their confidence levels soared.

The win marks the second national championship in a row in group dance for Tsali Lodge, the regional representation of Boy Scouts in the Order of the Arrow. The Lodge also won its first national championship for performance in Native American drumming at the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) that took place held Aug. 1-6 in Bloomington, Ind.
And:John Mark credits Bill Dyar, the Tsali Lodge advisor for Indian Affairs, with building up the Tsali Lodge dance team and helping them stay historically authentic.

The Scouts’ research book for their dance team reflects Dyar’s guidance and dedication. It’s filled with resources about the traditional dances the scouts performed.

“We had a huge research book—some teams had just three pages,” Tripp says. “We all helped to compile it.”
Comment:  I still don't think imitating Indians is a good idea. I'd like to know how well the losing teams with only three pages of research did.

But if you're going to imitate Indians, the Tsali Lodge did it the right way. Their costumes look reasonably authentic; they aren't the usual stereotypical Plains outfits. They gathered as much research as possible to authenticate their efforts. They got unspecified support from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee and a particular elder. They practiced extensively. They even said a prayer before beginning.

Let that be a lesson to the phony Indian organizations out there: the Boy Scouts' Tribe of Mic-O-Say, the Y-Indian Guides, etc. When your ceremonies are as authentic these Cherokee dances, then you can talk about the value of imitating Indians. Until then, no.

For more on the subject, see Scout Society Stereotypes Indians.

Below:  "The Tsali Lodge Dance Team won the regional competition at the Dixie Fellowship April 25-27 at Camp Bud Schiele in Rutherford County."

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