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Group That Mocks Native Americans Gets Public Lands From Congress

The 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.

boy scouts mock native americansThe 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.

This kind of bigoted behavior isn’t new to the Boy Scouts of America. People who pay attention know that the Boy Scouts have a long history of discrimination against non-religious Americans and non-heterosexuals. A bit of racism added to the mix blends in very nicely.

The really sad part of this story is that not one member of the House of Representatives had the courage to vote against this bill. Only seven members of the House abstained from voting for H.R. 310, doing so by voting “present” instead of voting “aye”. These U.S. Representatives were: Tammy Baldwin, Barney Frank, Dennis Kucinich, George Miller, Peter Stark, Henry Waxman, and Lynn Woolsey. The rest of Congress wholeheartedly supported the bigotry demonstrated by this scouting, without a single speech of even mild concern.

order of the arrow boy scouts play indians

21 comments to Group That Mocks Native Americans Gets Public Lands From Congress

  • Anonymous

    In no way whatsoever do I agree with the Boy Scouts (or anyone else) discriminating against non-religious people and homosexuals. There are many things that I disagree with them about.

    That being said, it is my understanding that the Boy Scouts intent is more to honor Native Americans, not to mock them. This is rather an irony, perhaps similar to dressing up in blackface to “honor” blacks. I guess it’s probably misguided and ignorant too. But I have been acquainted with a few people who were involved in Boy Scouts, and it was my understanding that the intent is not to mock at all, but to honor.

    • Anonymous

      P.S. I forgot to say that I also do not agree with the legislation that hands over the land to the Boy Scouts. Again, there are very few things that I agree with them about.

      But simply in the interest of fairness I wanted to put out there that it is my understanding that their intent is not to mock Native Americans, but to honor them — even if they might be going about it in an ignorant and less than educated fashion. I believe that their *intent* is not malicious.

      • I chose the word “mock” in particular because it has multiple meanings. It means to insult, but also to imitate.

        In some cases, the Boy Scouts of America may think that it is showing “honor” for native Americans, as it creates cartoonish replicas of them. However, the organization is still mocking them, and I believe it is doing so in a profoundly insulting way. It reduces Native Americans to a few simple cliches, rather than genuinely respecting the variety and depth of their cultures. It makes them into costumes, characters in a ridiculous Western fantasy.

        The Boy Scouts of America “honors” Native Americans in the same way that slave owners gave work to African Americans.

        • Really?

          Instead of doing stupid stuff like this to encourage kids to learn about Indians they could instead have the kids dress in gang clothes and kill each other, or have them starve, or have them build casinos. Then they would learn about modern Indian reservations and how bad things are there…

          • That’s a rather insulting view too, “Really”. I think you do have a kernel of a good idea, though. All these pretend Indian Boy Scouts of America groups could offer a badge for going out and living with, providing service for another culture within the United States (besides the one that the scout grew up in). Of course, that presumes that they’re actually interested in understanding people not like themselves. Given the Boy Scouts of America’s long history of discrimination, I suspect that’s not the case.

            • Jacob

              Has nothing to do with being insulting… If it does the insult should be to us white folks whose history forced this to happen. Indian reservations are currently some of the poorest and least educated places in the United States. The land isnt good for crap and the people ahve nothing. Its no wonder that things are so bad there… I apologize if that came across as insulting to them, it was meant to be insulting to people like us and our forfathers…

              • I understand where you’re coming from, but the thing that’s important to understand is that there are many aspects to the current experiences of present-day Native Americans, just as their cultures have a lot more variety and depth than in the past. Not every Native American is living a reservation nightmare. The Boy Scouts trivialize Native Americans with their stupid costumes and pseudo rituals. Let’s not go the other way with an Indians In the Rez stereotype.

              • Scout94

                I’m a scout active in many of these “mocking indian ceremonies”. The BSA uses Native American (That’s how we refer to them in most forms, scripts, documents, etc.) culture in honor of the Native American tradition in America. We speak often to tribal governments and Native American leaders to correctly represent their culture. We have visited their meetings and even taken part in a pow wow in my home Lodge. And I have never met a Native American (I have met many through Scouting) that finds this insulting. We are honoring a people closely in tune with nature and mother earth. We use the same themes they used: Fire, the bow and arrow, the hunt, to represent modern themes in a more understandable and traditional way. And Scouting does every possible thing to keep it respectful. When the Awase Lodge in Wisconsin decided to pick an albino bear as their lodge mascot they first contacted the local tribe to ask if it was offensive. We do this all to honor Native Americans, and so far as I know that is how they see it, they encourage it if anything. When I saw this article I thought it was satire it was so unbelievable. And as I’m guessing you are not Native American, you’re not the one to claim if its offensive to you or not.

  • qs

    Haven’t you seen Tom Cruise starring in the Last Samuri?

    O well, I won’t waste my time being offended by this.

  • Wayne


  • Wayne

    We should supports our Native American friends and other indiginous peoples….

  • Thank you for posting this. I am really disturbed that this was passed, and hardly anyone knew about it. I hope it is not too late to notify our Senators to make sure this will not pass.

  • Michael

    We have people living today on Reservations in South Dakota who were without food, water an electricity in January on the Cheyenne River Reservation an nothing was said on National or even NPR, but man do we pour out money an air time to other places not here but over there.
    We are still killing Indians an no it is not a noble THING to be an American Indian today, no I mean a Native American, no really a North American Aboriginal. I know for I am one, we just have so many laws being passed an so much paper work involved, things like this can happen an that is a tragedy an disgrace to not only Native People an our cultural ways but also to the ignorant non-Natives.
    Respect does not mean mimmick so please allow us a traditonal people some dignity an respect, I hope you can remember what that means.
    But then again, we have all these new age crystal people who know Native People are not livng the way the Creator wanted us to an so they have crusaded to do it the real Native way since we are surely lacking. An sadly, there are Native People who jump at this to line their pockets an egos with the scraps given them for SECRET KNOWLEDGE which can now be shared with the non-Native an the real message is loving kindness an compassion being part of ones life as vital as one’s organs to life on Mother Earth.
    A-ho Ku-nu

    • Makah88

      Thank you for you comment to this. I am an enrolled tribal member and have had many issues from my tribe awaiting a response from the government and then to hear they give middle class kids in costumes playing Native American a piece of land is absolutely disgusting

  • margeory

    I cannot believe that the land is being given to the scouts for this purpose. Land given and taken, and sold and bought, in itself is a joke. This is so wrong. I commend the educating of the children with the ways of us “Natives”, (and for the record it is “indigenous People” up here in Canada.) However, why not arrange for teachings from the “real deal?” Why not help the Indigenous people with their displacement and repatriation of cultural beliefs, so that we can teach our ways again and bring balance back to the earth and its peoples? The things that were done to our ancestors were only done in the last 150yrs or so and much much more recent. Slaughters were just barely concluded here when our very same countries sent the nations men to stop the nazi’s in germany… I shake my head at any of you who have not bothered to educate yourself on the truth hidden behind the propaganda, the ones who critisize our “reservations” and the way our people drown themselves in drink and drugs trying to escape the reality they have to live each day, the disassociation they have with their families, parents and grandparents sent to residental schools, beaten and bleached, and sexually abused, for nothing more than they were different than the man with the gun The man with the power who came in and flooded our nation, picking off tribe by tribe as they stole our land and our way of life. I am Metis. I grew up white, believing I was someone I am not, but my blood memory is strong and my Visions are clear… Perhaps you should seek the knowledge and you will feel shame for your attitudes, as I have seen.

    MY dreamss are of the Eagle and the Condor Prophecy, and I have had them many moons before I was aware of my blood within me… Perhaps with your internet skills you should look it up… and to follow the link below and learn the shocking words attached to our people and of what the coming of the white man has meant to us. Yes, I have European blood in me, because in the time when the settlers and the fur traders came, it was an asset for a trader to have a Native country wife, because it is she who helped him to survive the winters here, she who made him clothing, and moccassins when he had no access to purchasing these items, she fed him and cared for him, and then it was she who was so often tossed aside as he took his city wife. There is loads you should know, that would turn your stomach if you knew…
    The eagle and the condor says there will be an opportunity within the next while for life to come to a balance and a harmony, if we should accept it.. and the ways of the earth.. look it up and discover for yourself, and spread the word… when you read it, you will know..


  • I am a Boyscout who “plays” a native american. you guys are just assuming and listing to one view point so I decided to represent the other side- The boy scouts of america. The people who “dress up” like Native Americans belong to The order of the arrow” – “scoutings national honor society”.This organization which is part of BSA, was founded on a tribal ground of the Deleware Indians, The lenna lenupe.You act like we go to party city and buy $20 headdresses and some cheep shirts. My Chapter, which consits of several cities,buys realistic Native american Regailia. Headdresses cost between $150- $400. Then we buy drums and shirts, leggings and other things. That is just for ceremonies. We also compete in National pow-wows along side”real” Native Americans. The BSA has several people who are registered in Native American regailia.We do not have “fake” names, they are actually from the language of the deleware Tribe, which only a few speak today. We dont “insult” Native americans in anyway. I dont know why you think It is a bad thing??? I have learned almost all my knowledge of Native Americans in this way. Instead saying we “offened you” you have offened me along with other members of BSA.I have spent countless time memorizing lines, working on regaila. but you called us “The Boy Scouts trivialize Native Americans with their stupid costumes and pseudo rituals”
    … looks like you know nothing.

    • Makah88

      Wow I’ve never bought any of my regalia “real” Natives makes their own. It’s one thing to educate about different cultures but to go this far is unbelievable. Try growing up on the reservation and see what it’s really like, I guess playing Native American is easier though right?

    • Robert Runninfox Gurule

      MY Name Is RUNNINGFOX and I live In two Worlds. I am Native American. But live In a White World. I say this to let you all know That Tonight I was Disrespected buy a group of People That I held very High. I was Told I could No long be a Part of them. Because I were a Flap Patch that was given to me and 15 other boys and men for there work with the Native American people,
      Given to me buy my Grandmother And Grandfather and Other Native Elders. I have been With this Lodge for over 41 yrs. and tonight I was told that I could no longer be a part of them. am I rambling May be but I am so hurt. I don’t know what to do.
      so I have to let my Facebook friends Know. and I need your advice how reach an ending. so here it is. I been in the a Special of the Boy Scout called the Order Of the Arrow, they told me today that i could not have my Honor patch on my Shirt. If you see the Order of the Arrow they dress up like Native Americans with head dresses and war drums, have even been to pow wow dress like Natives, they are also give native name , and have Chief too and now have a problem with a real Native American Patch On his shirt. what is wrong with this is it because They can’t have one.??? or because they can’t trade for it ??. so my Facebook friends tell me what to do. but for my People my family and the Boy and Men that work so hard to be the best Scouts ever I will kept these honor Patch on my Scout Shirt.


  • warriorhawk

    I am native american i hate it when want a bee natives want to play native

  • krob

    jclifford your are factually incorrect in you article. Please turn in you pen, you should not be writing.

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