Ask the Chairman - Can ceremonies be performed according to local Indian tribe custom?

Q. Hello Ray,
I am from a lodge in Hawaii. There is a question in our lodge on whether we can do Hawaiian themed ceremonies. Some of our Arrowmen argued that we should because that is our "local tribe.” My understanding is that it has to be an American Indian tribe and Hawaiians are not in that group. Also, I think that it would seem out of place since the scripts have American Indian words. What is the policy on this? Are we allowed to do this? Thanks.


A. Elliot,
Thank you for your question. The Guide to Inductions (Chapter 4, pg 30 under "Costumes") has the following guidance:

"Lodges are encouraged to wear costumes that depict the tribes that were native to the local area."

There is nothing that specifically states that that tribe has to be a North American Indian tribe, although it's reasonable to assume that this guidance applies to lodges located in a US state or territory, as opposed to the small number of Arrowmen who operate in foreign countries. Assuming the lodge follows all guidelines in the Guide to Inductions, Guide for Officers and Advisers and the Guide to Safe Scouting, there is no inherent reason that a lodge in Hawaii couldn't use traditional Hawaiian costumes for OA ceremonies.

However, before proceeding, the most important first step would be to evaluate this option from the perspective of the candidates. Will the use of Hawaiian costumes would enhance the communication of the message of the ceremonies to the candidates? After the youth leadership of the lodge consider that question with the guidance of their advisers, they can make a determination. If there is any additional question beyond that, the lodge chief should bring the recommendation to the local Scout Executive or his designee for a final decision.

I hope that helps to give your lodge guidance to work toward resolving this question.

Thank you for your time and service to Scouting and the Order.

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