Posted 9th September 2009 in Legislation by jclifford
The Indian Nations Council is not a Native American group. It’s a chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. Almost all of its members are European Americans. The group mocks Native American groups by having its members dress up to play “Indians”. They organize themselves into groups with fake names like the Ta Tsu Hwa Lodge to make themselves sound Native American. They go to a camp at the edge of the Ouachita National Forest to hold membership “ordeal ceremonies” that mock real Native American rites.
Let’s pay attention to that camp, because it’s at the heart of the legislation passed yesterday, called the HALE Scouts Act. The legislation would take public land, which is supposed to be held in trust for all the people of the United States, and hand it over to the Boys Scouts of America Indian Nations Council for its private ownership and use. The Boy Scouts of America said that its ceremonies of imitations of Native Americans had become so popular with European-American families that their facility needed more room to hold all the people who wanted to participate. Yesterday, with the passage of H.R. 310, the lower house of Congress agreed to help them do just that.
U.S. Representative Dan Boren, a Republican from Oklahoma, commented, “Attendance has now exceeded the maximum number of available campsites and program areas, which is causing Camp Hale to begin turning away hundreds of scouts each summer. It is now critical for camp growth that the boundaries be extended.”
Imagine that a predominantly European-American organization set up a club in downtown Chicago in which children were taught to dress up in blackface and imitate African-Americans. Imagine that this group then asked Congress to help expand its facilities by giving it part of what had been public park. The equivalent of that is what happened yesterday, only instead of mocking African-Americans, the Boy Scouts of America are mocking Native Americans.
Please don't waste my time responding that the Boy Scouts intend to "honor" Indians, not mock them. The results are what matter, not the intent.
If you want to say something, explain how the Boy Scouts' situation is different from the "blackface" example above. In both cases, the intent is to "honor" a minority, not to mock it.
For more on the subject, see Indian Origin of Boy Scouts, Educating Scouts About Stereotypes, and Scout Society Stereotypes Indians.