Bill Downs

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Fifth National Indian Seminar

1984 Nat'l Indian Seminar patchInstead of having just one National Indian Seminar in 1984, the National OA Committee made plans to hold three separate seminars at various sites around the country. Like their predecessors, the goal of these seminars was to improve the quality and authenticity of the Order’s Indian-related events and activities, and to provide Arrowmen with the necessary resources and training so that they could take this information back to their respective home lodges and sections.

Fourth National Indian Seminar

1982 Indian Seminar patchThe fourth National Indian Seminar was held from July 31-August 7, 1982 at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch near Elbert, Colorado, roughly 70 miles south of Denver. Approximately 145 Indian enthusiasts from lodges around the country, as well as 55 staff members participated in the weeklong event. In keeping with tradition established at previous seminars, the main focus of the event was the training and education of Arrowmen on Native American customs, culture, and traditions. Once again National OA Committee member and Lead Adviser for Indian Events, Don Thom along with OA Executive Secretary, Bill Downs together served as co-directors of the seminar. National OA Committee member Greg Guy continued to serve in his role as the seminar’s Program Director. The seminar’s administrative leaders were able to secure a sufficient number of highly qualified staff to ensure participants the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics, and the chance to work with both Indian and non-Indian instructors on a one-on-one basis.

Third National Indian Seminar

Building on the successes of the first two events, the third National Indian Seminar was held at Beaumont Scout Reservation near St. Louis, Missouri from August 9-16, 1980. Approximately 125 participants and 67 faculty/staff members from around the country participated in the seven-day event. Like previous seminars, the central focus of the event was to train and educate Arrowmen on Native American customs, culture, and traditions. 

National Indian Seminar Cancelled

Due to the tremendous success of the first National Indian Seminar held at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1974, the idea of holding another similar event was being discussed even before the first one concluded. With the untimely death of Maury Clancy late in 1974, longtime Arrowman Don Thom became the driving force behind all OA national Indian events from 1975 well into the 1990s.

Second National Indian Seminar

After a four-year absence due to the cancellation of the 1976 event, the second National Indian Seminar was held at Camp George Thomas in Apache, Oklahoma from August 13-19, 1978. Approximately 170 Arrowmen from around the country participated in the event that for the first time saw both youth and adult participants. Like the first seminar, the purpose for a second National Indian Seminar was the continued emphasis on American Indian culture and crafts, and to educate Arrowmen on the histories and traditions of Native Americans. 

First National Indian Seminar

Since its earliest beginnings, the Order of the Arrow (OA) has enjoyed an almost spiritual relationship with the histories and traditions of Native American peoples. This kindred spirit is evident in the OA’s ceremonies, its symbols, and even in its name. By borrowing so much in the way of culture and crafts from the American Indian, the Order has accepted an obligation to maintain the highest standards of authenticity. Yet, with all of the interaction between the OA and that of Native Americans, there were those individuals who recognized a need for an informative program that furthered the understanding and awareness of the American Indian culture. This need gave rise to a pilot program known as the ‘National Indian Seminar’.

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