Skip to main content
We've detected that you're using an unsupported browser. You may experience issues using the OA website. Please visit our supported browsers page for more information.

American Indian Activities in the Order of the Arrow at 2024 NOAC

        Announcements, Policy Updates       NOAC 2024

Program Update

As the OA continues to expand its membership into more diverse communities, we continue to put our mission and purpose at the forefront of our Brotherhood. Consistent with that emphasis, the Order of the Arrow has determined that American Indian Activities (dancing, drumming, and crafts) will not be a part of the program at the 2024 National OA Conference.  This decision was made with input from several different constituencies. 

Recently, we asked OA members to provide feedback on various aspects of our history and traditions through multiple surveys.  One important takeaway from these surveys is that we need to be more deliberate in involving local tribes/Indian nations and tribal leaders in discussions about the use of American Indian traditions in our local lodges. 

While many members value these traditions, they also believe that lodges should seek approval from local tribes/Indian nations and tribal leaders to use them and ensure that our members understand their proper context. The feedback emphasized the importance of local decision-making on these traditions. Despite this local emphasis, certain previously prohibited traditions, like the use of face paint, will continue to be banned from all OA activities and programs. 

American Indian tribes/Indian nations across the country have a varied background and different levels of support for the programs of the Order of the Arrow. There is not a single entity that speaks for the 574 federally recognized tribes/Indian nations across the United States and it is impossible for us to gain consensus amongst all the tribes/Indian nations. As a result, national-level American Indian programming is not appropriate.  

For lodges that already engage with local tribal leadership in American Indian traditions, it is essential to maintain this practice and adhere to their guidance respectfully. For OA lodges using or planning to use American Indian traditions—but not yet engaging with local tribal leadership—the national OA committee expects them to establish these relationships before proceeding with existing or new programs.  Lodge leadership should plan to have written agreements in place indicating partnerships with local tribes/Indian nations as specific policies and resources are developed in the future. 

Above all, the Order of the Arrow embodies the lofty ideals of the Scout Oath and Law. Foundational to this experience is a deep respect for people from all backgrounds. Respecting the traditions of Indigenous Peoples is just one way in which we manifest these ideals.