Grand Lodge

Sashes Change From Felt to Twill

From the late teens until 1948, Grand Lodge / National Lodge issued sashes or bands were made of wool felt with wool felt arrows sewn onto the sash. Over the years because of a variety of manufacturers, the width of the sash and length of the sash varied. The same happened with the shape of the arrows sewn onto the sashes. The snaps also varied.

Evolution of Sashes

In the early ceremonies and Wimachtendienk literature arrow sashes were called arrow bands. The original band is the black sash used in the 1915 ceremonies on Treasure Island. Harry Yoder describes it as a black band with a white vertical stripe on the front. George Chapman described presumably the same band as being black with a white vertical arrow on the front with the arrow pointing over the shoulder. This band is the first sash and none are known to exist. The material used to make the sash is often described as being the same material that was used in the making of the black academic type robes worn by Goodman and Edson for the first ceremony.

Vigil Honor Ceremony Changes

E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson wrote the first Vigil Honor ceremony (then known as the Third Degree) for the Grand Lodge. The ceremony served the Order well for twenty years from 1921 to 1940. However, with the changes necessary for the Order to become an official BSA program the National Executive Committee determined at their 1937 meeting in Pittsburgh that the ceremony needed to be revised.

First Vigil Honor Certificates

At the 1938 National Lodge Meeting, Thomas Cairns introduced the idea of presenting a certificate to each Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow (OA). The National Lodge approved the idea and gave Cairns the authority to have the certificates printed and presented.

George Lower

George Lower was inducted into the Order of the Arrow (OA) at Treasure Island during the second summer of Wimachtendienk in 1916. He was one of the two major contributors to the writing of the rituals used by the Grand Lodge from 1921 until 1936. Prior to 1921, Lower was one of the quiet adult forces within the Wimachtendienk. In a newspaper article in August 1921, he is pictured in a sash and black robe and identified as one of two Medicine Men along with Dr. William M. Hinkle.

Third Degree / Vigil Honor OA Sashes

The first example of anything resembling a sash worn by recipients of the Third Degree (Vigil Honor) is a fraternal “bib” type three-part sash. These sashes can be observed around the necks of founders E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson in the photograph taken at the Rededication Ceremony held at Camp Biddle in conjunction with the first Grand Lodge Meeting in 1921. Other than the photograph itself, there is no other evidence, documentation or even confirmation that these are indeed Third Degree sashes.

Ninth Grand Lodge Meeting

The Ninth Meeting of the Grand Lodge hosted by Buffalo Lodge (later Sisilija Lodge) at Camp Rotary, Pilot Knob on Lake George, New York was held September 11-13, 1931. At least 15 lodges were in attendance with an unknown number of delegates. The Grand Lodge reaffirmed action of the Grand Lodge in 1927 (although it does not appear in the 1927 minutes) “that the word ‘fraternity’ be replaced with the word ‘brotherhood’ throughout all printed matter.” The Order was starting to pull away from the fraternal roots that influenced its beginnings. The Order was no longer a camp fraternity; it was a brotherhood and had begun using terms that would be more acceptable to the BSA national office. (Note - the Latin root for the word fraternity means brother.)

Tenth Grand Lodge Meeting

After requesting to host the Grand Lodge Meeting for ten years, the OA came to Chicago, hosted by Owasippe Lodge. Included in the host Owasippe Lodge contingent were several members of the all African American Takodah Chapter making the 1933 meeting the first that can be verified to be an integrated national OA meeting.

Many of the 252 delegates from 23 lodges attending the 10th Meeting of the Grand Lodge took advantage of the opportunity to attend the Century of Progress World’s Fair (and the lower promotional train fares.) This meeting was very different than any previous Grand Lodge meeting. The rules were suspended. The normal business of officer reports, committee reports, and by-law amendments were dispensed with. Instead, the delegates gathered in a casual manner to discuss the impending issue of official recognition from the BSA.

Ceremonial Rituals are Changed

In 1933, the Grand Lodge was making the preparations necessary to become an official BSA program. In August of that year, a document entitled: A Statement of Principles Applying in the Case of National Approval of the Order of the Arrow, was produced to give guidance to the transition needed within the Order of the Arrow (OA).

One of the sections made reference to the Rituals of the Order of the Arrow and stated the following:

A competent committee will review the Ritual in its entirety with a view to assuring that it is free from:

1. Any words or phrases, which may cause offense to religious bodies
2. Any performance or expressions, which may be interpreted as acts of religious worship
3. Any employment of the element of secrecy as in obligation, which may prove inconsistent with the policies of Scouting.

Between 1933 and early 1935 the OA’s rituals underwent strong examination and rewrites to ascertain that the rituals were in compliance with the guidelines set forth in 1933 necessary for National Council BSA approval.

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