February 12, 2010

Scouts want land to mock Indians

Group That Mocks Native Americans Gets Public Lands From Congress

Posted 9th September 2009 in Legislation by jcliffordThe House of Representatives passed H.R. 310 yesterday, a bill that would take a section of the Ouachita National Forest and transfer it over to the Indian Nations Council in Oklahoma. It looks, at first glance, like a victory for those who have been advocating Native American land rights. Sadly, that’s first impression couldn’t be further from the truth.

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.
Comment:  I don't know if this legislation passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law.

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.


dmarks said...

What deceptive name this group has. Like a klan-type organization having "Civil Rights" in its name.

Anonymous said...

Scouts don't darken their skin in the current programs. Why is fictitious Scouts darkening their skin in a fictitious program always brought up as a comparison?

And last time I checked, Chicago is not a native African community. A more apt comparison would be if Scouts founded a camp in Africa and a local tribal leader made the Scout leader a part of his community and then helped the Scouts to develop a program that taught the boys traditional African dress, dancing, and other customs in order to help them feel a connection to the land, it's original culture, and the people in it.

There are many programs across the nation of course, but that's the closest "culture-swap" example to how mine came to be.

Anonymous said...

Albeit, it seems to me that those who engage in this "culture swapping" are probably not proud to be European White. So they go on to pretend to be something that they are not, nor does it have anything to do with the other culture whatsoever. Perhaps, lack of being creative is an issue here as well. I pity these people who participate in this hogwash nonsense. Heretofore, this is also called dysconcious racism, if memory of the term serves me correctly. In other words=Racist Stereotyping of another culture. A nasty habit of the white man.

Why not just mock them back?


dmarks said...

"Racist Stereotyping of another culture. A nasty habit of the white man."

And your second sentence perfectly illustrated the first by giving us an example.

Anonymous said...

"culture swapping" was intended to refer to "Let's swap in another culture in the situation to illustrate a point."

The point of the second sentence has little to do with race. The point is that the Scouts have all these Indian programs in the US because Indians were the original people in the US. The article says "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." My point is that that's a pointless and unrelated "what-if." A parallel example involving black people instead of American Indians would have to in Africa and would have to involve the participation of African tribal leadership.

Anonymous said...

Rob has a lot of good points, but most of them are overshadowed by the extremely poor research and slew of unsupported assumptions about the motivations and actions of those he comments on. I guess if you want to put out several blog posts a week you can't waste time fact-checking the, negative (dare I say it? I dare) stereotypes that you apply to offenders.

Anonymous said...

Natives vs. Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts will never understand because they are part of the mainstream society that always has a view of the outside looking in. No, mocking Native cultural rites will not give you a better view either. I'm sure those "Natives" who are helping the organization are only doing it for the money. What a troubled world we live in. Anonymous Native