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National Event

NOAC 2009

Approximately 7,200 Arrowmen converged on Bloomington, Indiana as the OA returned to Indiana University for a record tenth time. This NOAC was the first to develop a social network web site where delegates and staff could share fellowship online prior to the big event.

The “Power of One” NOAC had a record 3,700 first-time NOAC attendees. The Conference theme was presented throughout the event. It was stressed everywhere including in training, the first ever NOAC film festival and the arena shows.

A highlight of the NOAC, along with the Distinguished Service Award presentation, was longtime National OA Committee member Del Loder receiving the fourth Lifetime Achievement Award. Many Arrowmen had the chance to meet Del and share stories with him at the NOAC Center for History.

3, National Event, OA, Scouting


ArrowCorps5 the 2008 program of emphasis conducted by the Order of the Arrow (OA) was a joint project between the OA and the United States Forest Service (USFS) to provide service at five U.S. Forest Service sites across the country. The five sites were selected based on USFS needs and the OA’s ability to provide the type of service requested at each site. ArrowCorps5 was open to both youth and adult participation and cost $250.00 per participant. The National OA Committee of the Order of the Arrow conducted fundraising and sought sponsorship to acquire program funds needed above those provided by participants.

Each service site was administered by Order of the Arrow leadership, and USFS personnel. Starting in 2003, both sides began planning for the conservation project, programmatic elements and the logistical support needed to host 1,000 Arrowmen per site. In the fall of 2007 promotional material was sent out to councils and lodges. The tagline for the event was “Five Sites, Five Weeks, Five Thousand Arrowmen.”

Throughout early 2008 the Order of the Arrow hired 42 Arrowmen to serve on the Instructor Corps. This group would oversee conservation projects and implement the program while onsite at each venue. A documentation crew was hired by the OA to work alongside the USFS in capturing what was promoted as “the largest service project conducted by the Boy Scouts since World War II.” Overall, through the efforts of the participants and staff, the OA provided 280,000 volunteer service hours worth $5.6 million to the Forest Service.

Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri – June 7 to 14, 2008 The summer-long series of service projects kicked off at the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. Some 575 participants, staff, and U.S. Forest Service personnel assembled at a specially created base camp in the Ozark Mountains. The proposed “Arrowman’s Glade” project consisted of cutting down more than 285,000 invasive Eastern Red Cedar trees within a 134-acre track. Participants completed the task ahead of schedule and as a result were able to provide restoration to the natural environment and help sustain the wildlife of the area.

Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah – June 14 to 21, 2008 The Manti-La Sal National Forest site in Utah brought together 463 participants, staff, and 21 different government agencies. A base camp was erected at the Canyon View Junior High School in Huntington, Utah. During the week, Arrowmen removed invasive Tamarisk, a non-native shrub harmful to other vegetation and wildlife. In total approximately 13,000 acres or 33 square miles miles of channel area was cleared and sprayed. Special guests included the Lieutenant Governor of Utah, Gary R. Herbert and senior leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

George Washington & Jefferson National Forests, Virginia – June 21 to 28, 2008 Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest project site included 736 participants, staff, and U.S. Forest Service personnel. In total 8.3 miles of new multi-use trail appropriately named “ArrowCorps Loop” was constructed. Arrowmen also built and installed four information kiosks along with 86 trail signs. Additionally, some crews camped and worked at Lake Moomaw surveying and constructing seven camping platforms. Camp Goshen of the National Capital Area Council served as the primary base camp. Deputy Chief of the USFS, Gloria Manning spoke at the closing gathering.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California – July 12 to 19, 2008 Mt. Shasta Ski Park served as the primary base camp to the 600 participants, staff, and U.S. Forest Service personnel that arrived for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest ArrowCorps5 site. Lodge delegations included Arrowmen from the US, Japan and Taiwan. Project tasks included the removal of 22 tons of illegally dumped trash, constructing or reconstructing more than 75 miles of trail on the Pacific Crest Trail, Sisson-Callahan Trail, and McCloud Loop Trail system. Additionally, a fire lookout tower and four “comfort stations” along the Pacific Crest trial were refurbished.

President Bush presented the President’s Volunteer Service Award to National Chief Jake Wellman, Western Region Chief Mark Hendricks, and Youth Incident Commander Alex Braden during a visit to Redding, California on day five of the project. To conclude the week, the keynote address at the closing gathering was given by the Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Mark Ray.

Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming – July 26 to August 2, 2008 The final and largest project of the summer-long service event occurred at the Bridger Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. 1,034 participants, staff, and U.S. Forest Service personnel worked to construct more than 12 miles of multi-use trail within the Teton-Pass area. While headquarters for the “Arrow Trail” project in Teton Pass was at Jackson Hole High School, a remote camp was constructed at the base of the Teton Mountains to allow Arrowmen easier access in removing 10 miles of fencing and to construct off highway vehicle closure points and primitive campsites. Special guests included Chief of the USFS Gail Kimbell, David Freudenthal, the Governor of the State of Wyoming, and Chief Scout Executive, Bob Mazzuca. The White House awarded additional Presidential Volunteer Service Awards to all of the ArrowCorps5 site leadership at the closing gathering.

1, National Event, OA, Scouting

National Conservation and Leadership Summit (NCLS)

In the summer of 2007 from July 28th through August 1, the National OA Committee hosted lodge leaders in Bloomington, Indiana at Indiana University for a summit with a twofold purpose: to prepare staff members for the upcoming ArrowCorps5 project set for the following summer, and to release the Order’s 2008-2012 strategic plan. With a theme of “Building the Path to Servant Leadership”, participants engaged in training programs focused on strengthening lodge operations or fine tuning their conservation management skills. Over 1,200 Arrowmen attended, providing feedback and suggestions on how to implement the strategic plan and how to deliver a successful ArrowCorps5. The Chief Scout Executive delivered a keynote speech at the closing ceremonies of the summit.

3, National Event, OA, Scouting

NOAC 2006

The 2006 National Order of the Arrow Conference at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan was the largest NOAC ever. There were 8,003 delegates and staff at the OA’s grand event. The total was nearly 1,000 more Arrowmen than the previous record set at the 75th Anniversary NOAC 16 years earlier in 1990.

The Conference theme selected by the Section Chiefs at the December National Planning Meeting was “The Legend Lives On”. Among the highlights of a program filled with training, athletic competition, arena shows and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) was the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award presented to longtime National OA Committee member Dabney Kennedy. Although Arrowmen were promised a cooler climate and admonished to bring along a sweater, this was one of the steamiest NOACs in memory.

3, National Event, OA, Scouting

2005 National Jamboree

The 2005 National Scout Jamboree was held at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, from July 25 to August 3 with the theme “Character Not Only Counts, It Multiplies”. 43,307 Scouts participated in the Jamboree.

In 2005, the Order of the Arrow committed itself once again to assisting with the logistics and programming of the Jamboree. It was evident that the OA was solidly engaged in providing a tremendous amount of service and programs throughout the Jamboree.

One of the most popular programs at the Jamboree was the Order of the Arrow theatrical production Twelve Cubed. A successor to the Order’s famed productions of Odyssey of the Law and Scoutopia, at previous Jamborees, Twelve Cubed was based upon recognition that the term “values” has an application in mathematical equations as well as ethical ones. “Twelve Cubed” represented an equation for life and a formula for values obtained by applying the twelve points of the Scout Law and the three parts of the Scout Oath to one’s life — a multiplication, if you will, which has an exponential effect upon a Scout’s life. Through creative, artistic, and interactive endeavors with the audience, the Twelve Cubed production helped Scouts at the Jamboree define the true meaning of character and values.

Registering its largest turnout in its nine-year history, The Outdoor Adventure Place (TOAP) had 33,000 attendees visit the exhibit area during the nine days of the Jamboree. Through the Leave No Trace (LNT) program, Scouts were able to train in the seven principles of LNT, as well as meet with various federal land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Corps of Engineers, National Park Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition to serving as a learning environment, TOAP was a place to have fun and hang out; Scouts were constantly involved with activities such as the many climbing walls, outdoor cooking area, and pioneering tower.

The OA American Indian Village continued to expand in popularity and scope from previous Jamborees. The Village, located near the Merit Badge Midway, also offered Scouts the opportunity to earn the Indian Lore Merit Badge and explore American Indian culture through living history displays, songs, and dance. During the Jamboree, 325 full and partial Indian Lore Merit Badges were awarded. The Village also hosted a large Pow Wow one evening, and used a traveling group of dancers to promote their program area and the American Indian culture throughout the Jamboree.

The Order of the Arrow’s Service Corps provided hundreds of hours of cheerful service to the thousands of participants in all corners of the Jamboree. Arrowmen on the Service Corps team served as security for arena shows, delivered lunches, conducted flag raisings, and hosted special dignitaries at Fort A. P. Hill. In addition, the Service Corps provided service to the various Jamboree camps and in turn became the most well-known and visible group on-site. Using the theme “Service: Can You Dig It?” they demonstrated the Order’s principles throughout the Jamboree.

3, Ceremonies, National Event, OA, Scouting

NOAC 1981

The 1981 National Order of the Arrow Conference was held at the University of Texas, Austin. This was the first Conference held since the passing of E. Urner Goodman. A memorial was a portion of the opening show and the Founder’s Award was announced to the 3,200 delegates. Goodman’s likeness adorned the official NOAC pocket patch. This Conference also had the first Founder’s Day, starting a tradition that instantly became a NOAC favorite.

1981 NOAC patchThe Conference theme reflected on Goodman’s life and his work. "First a Spark, Now a Flame" recalling how the OA started on one transformative night on a distant island camp in the middle of the Delaware River, and now had inducted well over a million honor Scouts from across the nation and around the world.  Louise Goodman attended the conference, spoke and received the Red Arrow Award.

The conference featured training and the usual competitions in Indian Dance, ceremonies and sports.  The Distinguished Service Award (DSA) was presented.

1981 was the last time that a NOAC and National Jamboree occurred in the same year. They had previously coincided in 1950, 1969, 1973 and 1977 as well as for the USA hosted 1967 World Jamboree. While the OA had provided service corps at each of these jamborees, the increased dependency on Arrowmen to run a Jamboree made holding a NOAC in the same year prohibitive. Too many of the National OA Committee members and much of the key staff would be over committed. The needs of the BSA come first thus NOACs often have to skip a year to be compatible with the National Jamboree schedule.

3, National Event, OA, Scouting

1981 National Jamboree

In 1981, the National Scout Jamboree moved to Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, which would be the permanent location for many jamborees to come. The jamboree was held from July 29 to August 4 with the theme “Scouting’s Reunion with History”. 29,765 Scouts participated in the Jamboree.

1981 Natl Jambo patchThe opening show was a spectacular that featured twenty-four hundred Scouts acting out “America’s Heritage” from colonial times to the present. Patrol activities became standard and for the first time, schedules of patrol activities were computerized. On arriving at the jamboree, each troop received a computer printout of the activities available to its patrols, and activity tickets to go with them.

Continuing the practice established at the 1977 jamboree, National Vice Chairman Carl Marchetti again served as the Chairman of Youth Services and National Executive Secretary Bill Downs served as Director for a total of approximately 800 youth Jamboree staff.

Past National Committee Chairman George Feil served as the director of the OA Service Corps. Service duties continued as at past Jamborees and included such duties as ushers during arena shows, conducting flag ceremonies, logistics support, aides to personnel, office assistants, program aides and a variety of other tasks.

After the Jamboree, the National OA Committee concluded that the increased involvement by the OA and its leadership in producing a Jamboree had grown to the point that it would not be practicable in the future to hold a National OA Conference in a Jamboree year. 1981 marked the last summer with both a Jamboree and a NOAC.

1981 NOAC patch

3, National Event, OA, Scouting

NOAC 1961

For a fourth time the Order returned to Indiana University for the 1961 National Order of the Arrow Conference. A record 2,800 delegates attended training classes, participated in campcraft and joined in fellowship. The Conference theme was, "Weld Tightly Every Link – Brotherhood – Cheerfulness – Service – Camping".

Making a return to the Order of the Arrow was Co-founder Carroll A. Edson. Edson had last participated in the OA in 1933. Dr. Goodman brought Col. Edson back. Edson had been involved in a non-Scouting career in the time following World War II.

Arrowmen flocked to finally see the two founders together. The number one prize was to obtain their signatures on an OA sash. Anytime, anywhere the two Founders stopped together, whether it was a campus bench or a sofa inside a dorm, a line would immediately form and Goodman and Edson would cheerfully oblige and sign sashes. This tradition lasted until the last Conference they attended together in 1979, although the opportunities became limited in the latter years.

The Conference Committee of Area Chiefs challenged the Arrowmen to Build, Serve and Achieve. The Distinguished Service Awards (DSA) were presented. Goodman again gave the final challenge to the assembled Arrowmen.

3, National Event, OA, Scouting

Patch Trading

Nobody knows when the first swap of Order of the Arrow emblems took place, but it had to be soon after the first badges of Wimachtendienk appeared. In the early years there was no trading of OA insignia. The first insignia in 1916 were pins. Pins were made of silver or gold. They were relatively expensive, certainly when compared to patches. An Unami Lodge gold Second Degree pin in 1919 might have cost $2.00; the cost of 20 die-cut felt camp monogram patches. No one was trading them with each other.

At the first Grand Lodge Meeting in 1921 most of the delegates were professional Scouters. They had much to discuss, but they were not trading. The first badges of the Order were issued shortly thereafter. The first chenille shaped badge from Minsi Lodge of Reading, Pennsylvania was issued circa 1922. But there was really no one to trade it with and no real location to wear it (OA Insignia was forbidden from the uniform until 1942, and that was for just the Universal Arrow Ribbon.) It was not until 1945 that pocket patches (not flaps) were approved for uniforms.

Circa 1925 Ranachqua Lodge from the Bronx, New York issued a chenille. At the following Grand Lodge Meeting in 1926 a motion was made to fully authorize OA patches. The motion was approved, however a requirement was made that only Brotherhood / Second Degree members or above could have them. With such stringent patch restrictions there still was virtually no trading of Wimachtendienk emblems going on.

The earliest example of a multiple OA emblem collection came from an Arrowman in Minsi Lodge. He had only three patches, but they were from different lodges. That meant he either swapped them or was given them as he was only in one of the lodges. The first badge in the collection and only one previously known to collectors was a Minsi Lodge chenille dating to circa 1927. The other badges, dated to the same period, were from Unami Lodge and from Swatara Lodge, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

By the 1930s swapping had begun at meetings of the Grand Lodge. In 1933 at the Chicago hosted Grand Lodge Meeting there would have been patches everywhere to be seen; not so many OA emblems, but camp patches and World’s Fair patches. Chicago was already using a system of year badges and activity badges on their neckerchiefs. Swapping would have taken place, although probably not much involving OA emblems. The trades were done in fellowship. It was an exchange to remember a brother from another lodge. By 1936 at the Grand Lodge Meeting that had changed. Arrowmen were trading patches. There is a reference in the 1938 National Meeting Minutes that states, “once again badge swapping was a popular activity at the meeting”. The earliest photograph of OA badge trading was taken at the 1938 meeting held at Camp Irondale, Missouri.

On February 19,1937 the National Executive Committee in a letter to Scout Executives asked them in their role as Supreme Chief of the Fire,

to stress to his Order of the Arrow members attending the (1937) Jamboree, that they should not swap or exchange Order of the Arrow insignia.

It is not known why such an admonishment was made and there was never a written order rescinding of the policy. It is known that OA patch trading took place at the 1937 National Jamboree with multiple collections documented from the event.

By 1940, patch “swapping” was a major pastime for Arrowmen at national, regional and area events. In general it was “one for one” trading. It did not interrupt program and was done in fellowship. Many Arrowmen when they left the Order and moved on from patch swapping would give the patches to younger lodge members to trade and have fun with.

Up until 1948, there were no books or guides that had pictures of OA patches. J. Rucker Newbery collected OA patches, or as he would have called them, emblems. He called them emblems because they were “emblematic” meaning they stood for something (a fact often lost when patches are made for no reason other than for them to be rare or collected). In 1948 Newbery edited the first Order of the Arrow Handbook. In the book he included two pages devoted to pictures of emblems. This gave some lodges the impetus needed to create their own emblem for the first time. The badges were also really wonderful looking and, to many of the thousands of Arrowmen that bought the handbook, were fascinating. The patch-trading hobby was spreading rapidly.

In 1952 Dwight W. Bischel published his Wabaningo Lodge Emblem Handbook (The “Wab” book). Inside the Wab book Bischel provided all sorts of information never offered to Arrowmen. Each lodge that was known to have an emblem was listed in lodge number order and the badge was photographed if available. Other pertinent information such as city and state of the lodge, council name, meaning of name, etc. was listed. The colors of the patches were also listed because the Wab book was not printed in color. The book was actively promoted in the OA National Bulletinand at the National OA Conference. Bischel quickly sold-out 2,000 copies of the book in under a year. A generation of patch collecting Arrowmen emerged.

The patch-trading hobby continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Hobby newsletters were developed such as The Trader which emerged following the 1953 National Jamboree and was first edited by Mike Diamond. It was during the 1950s that the OA started to make flaps in large quantities. Once Arrowmen could collect the same shaped patch from every lodge neatly cataloged in number order the hobby accelerated amongst Arrowmen.

Just as with any thing that is new and explodes in interest, problems developed. When Arrowmen learned that Bischel had obtained the badges by writing to council offices many traders started writing to council’s seeking patches. Some offices liked making the extra money or had a relationship with an Arrowman more than glad to have a new patch trading pen pal. Other found it to be a major distraction having to devote personnel to return unwanted money or patches sent by a hopeful Scout. In 1960 the OA made an official statement that Arrowmen were not to write to council offices for patches.

Other problems involved “restrictions” on patches. This made patches unequal in trade and caused a loss of fellowship. National strongly recommended an end to restrictions in late 1975. The biggest problem though was from a minority of over-zealous traders who were disrupting actual program because they were only present to trade patches. To be sure, the great majority of patch traders were active Arrowmen giving service and trading some patches along the way. In 1977 the NOAC theme show actually vilified a flap trader for not having the correct spirit. They showed him with a brief case full of patches, skipping training and having no idea of the purpose of the OA. Within the patch trading community the hobby changed.

One part of the change was that patch “traders” were becoming patch “collectors”. There was a heightened awareness that program must come first and that collectors needed to police themselves. More books were being produced. National and regional books were being written and published that provide the history of insignia. Arrowmen started paying more and more attention to their locally issued items. Patch organizations such as National Scout Collectors Society, Western Traders Association, the American Scouting Historical Society and American Scouting Traders Association (ASTA) and later the International Scout Collectors Association (ISCA) formed. They included a code of ethics. Among rules were not mailing council offices and not trading during training sessions and always following the rules of the event (whether they agreed with them or not).

Starting in the 1960s and gaining in popularity through 2000 were events separate from program only for traders. They were called “Trade-o-rees”. By the 1970s a National Trade-o-ree was held in conjunction with each National OA Conference or Jamboree. Many lodges learned to host trade-o-rees as fundraisers often including a memorabilia auction. The first “official” trade-o-ree at a NOAC was at the 2009 Conference held on campus at the University of Indiana.

The patch trading groups that had developed were also publishing magazines that provided information for collectors. This had the affect of converting what were patch “collectors” in the 1980s and 1990s to Scout “historians” in the 2000s. More and more collectors were interested in preserving the insignia of their lodge, camp or council through the insignia that had been issued. Because the insignia became collectible, value became associated with the memorabilia. During the past 15 years unbelievable values have been associated with rare OA insignia. This is a measure of the passion of Arrowmen for their history.

Collectibles of all types have passion and value associated with them. But OA insignia is different than something like a baseball card. A baseball card never plays the game of baseball. In most cases the card is never even touched by the player depicted or anyone else in Major League Baseball. But OA insignia had to be earned by an Arrowman. The emblem represents the presence and service of an elder brother.

A fortunate by-product of the passion and swapping and trading over the years is the Order of the Arrow’s insignia has been preserved for posterity. Books such as The Blue Book - Standard Order of the Arrow Insignia Catalog, edited by Bill Topkis and websites like the Internet Guide to OA Insignia published by John Pannell along with exhibitions such as the OA Center for History at NOAC or the 2010 Mysterium Compass Vault at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree have made it possible for Arrowmen to continue to meet their obligation by observing and preserving the traditions of the Order of the Arrow.

The patch-trading hobby remains strong. Walk through any Jamboree or NOAC (when program is not going on, please) and patch trading can be found in almost every nook and cranny.

Awards, Background, Insignia, National Event, OA, Profile, Scouting

National Meeting Cancelled

At the invitation of A. Frank Dix of Tali Taktaki Lodge, Greensboro, North Carolina the 1942 National Meeting was scheduled to go to the South for the first time in history. With the size of National Meetings growing so briskly it was anticipated that as many as 1,000 Arrowmen might attend. No longer could they meet at a Scout camp. The National Executive Committee selected the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the meeting site. For the first time, delegates would not be responsible for their own bedding.

The selection of the University of North Carolina meant that some fellow brothers in the Order would not be allowed to attend because the University was segregated and would not allow non-whites. As it turned out, the meeting was cancelled and our Order never held a National Meeting at a location that excluded some members.

On July 14, 1942 National Secretary (this is the point in time that the term National Scribe permanently changed to National Secretary) H. Lloyd Nelson sent a letter regretting to inform all lodges that the National Meeting was cancelled because of World War II wartime restrictions. He further stated that the hope was that after the world conflict was over that the OA would re-schedule the event for the University of North Carolina.

The OA did not hold a National Meeting or NOAC in the South until 1977 at the University of Tennessee.

2, National Event, OA, Scouting

Joseph Brunton

Joseph A. Brunton, Jr. (June 26, 1902 – July 8, 1988) was an Arrowmen and a career professional for the Boy Scouts of America. He served as National Lodge Chief in the Order from 1938 to 1940 and in the BSA National Council as the fourth Chief Scout Executive from 1960 to 1966.

Joseph A. Brunton, Jr. was one of the charter members of Octoraro Lodge, West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1926. In 1936, at the meeting of the National Lodge, Brunton, serving as Scout Executive for East Boroughs Council, Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania was elected National Lodge Treasurer and then in 1938, at the age of 35, he was elected National Lodge Chief. Under his tenure as chief, the idea of area “fellowship” meetings was established. This would be the start of “sectional” meetings to be held in each area; what we know today as Section Conclaves.

Chief Brunton was instrumental in creating the OA Distinguished Service Award (DSA). In 1940, at the 25th Anniversary National Lodge Meeting, he presented the first DSA to E. Urner Goodman. He himself later received the Award in 1946.

Brunton became a professional Scouter at an early age, and served in several local council positions, including Council Scout Executive. He became a member of the BSA National Council in 1952 as Director of Church Relations. In 1957, he was promoted to National Council senior management. He was appointed by the BSA National Executive Board to become Chief Scout Executive in 1960. Brunton was the second National Chief to rise to the position of Chief Scout Executive; the man he succeeded, Arthur A. Schuck (Chief Scout Executive 1948-1960) had served as the second Grand Lodge Chieftain in 1922.

During Brunton’s tenure, youth membership continued to expand in both Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting. Various changes were made to the Exploring program, including a stronger emphasis on career exploration and post specialty programs, in order to retain teenage youth members and attract additional teens to the program.

Brunton was awarded the Bronze Wolf, by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting, in 1965. In 1966 he was awarded the Alpha Phi National Distinguished Service Award and in 1973 he received the Silver Buffalo Award.

2, Elections, National Event, OA, Profile, Scouting

National Bonnets

The original golden eagle feather bonnet worn and passed down by the national chiefs of the Order of the Arrow (OA) was made in 1938 by members of Anicus Lodge, East Boroughs Council located in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Former Anicus Lodge Chief, Joseph A. Brunton, Jr. was the first chief to wear the bonnet. He had recently been elected chief of the National Lodge at the twelfth National Lodge Meeting hosted by Shawnee Lodge 51 at Irondale Scout Reservation located in Irondale, Missouri. Subsequently, Anicus Lodge presented this bonnet to the National Lodge of the Order of the Arrow in 1940 when they hosted the Order of the Arrow’s 25th Anniversary meeting at Camp Twin Echo, located near Ligonier, PA. Chief Brunton was the host council’s Scout Executive at the 25th Anniversary meeting and it was Brunton that ceremoniously passed the bonnet to the newly elected National Chief, George Mozealous of Owasippe Lodge. The ceremonious passing of the bonnet is a tradition that still continues to this day.

Like many of the bonnets of that era, the original bonnet was made from authentic eagle feathers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service consider today, both golden and bald eagles threatened species, and federal law now protects the feathers and body parts from these species. The laws regarding the possession or trade of feathers and body parts from these species are both promulgated and enforced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and now require a special permit. However, the original bonnet was in the BSA / OA’s possession before such laws were enacted, and therefore no special permit was required to maintain legal ownership.

The original bonnet was used ceremoniously by the Order of the Arrow for its national chief for over 40 years. The national chief at the opening and closing shows of National Order of the Arrow Conferences (NOAC) typically wore the bonnet. The bonnet was also worn at National Planning Meetings following national officer elections. The bonnet was also occasionally worn or displayed at other national events to promote the Order of the Arrow. The original bonnet was used continuously during this time even after the National OA Committee issued its policy known as the “Protected Feather Clarifications” effective January 1, 1976. This policy, which was heavily encouraged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, prohibited the use of animal parts in the construction of Native American regalia used at Scouting events. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made an allowance for the use of the original bonnet by the national chief of the Order of the Arrow.

Tragically, the original bonnet was destroyed in a fire that occurred at the BSA’s national office in Irving, Texas on November 6, 1980. A young security guard whose intention was to be the ‘big hero’ by discovering and putting out the fire deliberately set the blaze. Unfortunately, the fire quickly got out of his control into an area that housed many of the OA’s records and memorabilia, including the original national chief’s bonnet.

After the loss of the original bonnet, the National OA Committee announced that it had decided to construct two new replacement bonnets for its national officers, which for the first time would include a bonnet for the national vice chief. However, due to the passing of federal laws against the sale, trade, or possession of authentic eagle feathers and body parts since the original bonnet was made, any creation of replacement bonnets consisting of such material would typically have been prohibited without a special federal permit for organizations other than those of Native American origin.

In an attempt to remedy the situation, National OA Committee member Don Thom made an offer at the December 1980 National Planning Meeting to disassemble an authentic eagle feather dance bustle that he had in his possession for use in constructing the new replacement bonnets. This generous offer, as well as other possible solutions, was the subject of much discussion by the National OA Committee over the following several months. However, even though these discussions eventually proved to be successful in finding a permanent solution, the Order of the Arrow was still currently without a bonnet for its national chief. In addition, the National OA Committee was facing an immediate dilemma as to what bonnet the national chief might use at the upcoming 1981 National Order of the Arrow Conference being held at the University of Texas at Austin. As a possible solution for this pending dilemma, OA National Secretary William F. “Bill” Downs suggested that a bonnet worthy of use by the National Chief at the upcoming 1981 NOAC be identified from the local area. Once identified, arrangements could be made to temporarily borrow the bonnet for the conference. Remarkably, just such a bonnet was located, and the 1981 OA National Chief Bradley D. Starr subsequently wore it for this event.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were made aware of the BSA / OA’s unique situation by Walter Wenzel (BSA’s Director of Conservation and former Interior Department employee), and they eagerly came to their aid for a permanent bonnet solution. After first confirming the fact that the original bonnet was made with authentic eagle feathers that were obtained prior to the enactment of such prohibitive laws, they allowed for the replacement of the original bonnet with two new ones constructed of a similar nature. Each of the two replacement bonnets were constructed using 32 authentic golden eagle feathers, tipped with owl feathers. The feathers were provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and came in the form of two crudely constructed, eagle feather bonnets. These bonnets had been in someone’s illegal possession, and had been confiscated in Idaho by federal law enforcement agents. Although the confiscated bonnets were crudely made, the golden eagle feathers that they each contained were absolutely beautiful.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered these bonnets to the BSA / OA for use in constructing the two new replacement bonnets via a special permit / loan agreement for scientific and educational purposes. It was signed on May 7, 1982 on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America / Order of the Arrow by Bill Downs (OA National Secretary) and on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Gust J. Nun (Special Agent in charge of law enforcement – District 6). This special permit / loan agreement became effective on May 12, 1982, and it has never been revoked. Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required that a sign indicating that the possession and exhibition of these items were by their permission should accompany any display of these bonnets.

With a supply of authentic golden eagle feathers now legally in hand, the National OA Committee set out to find a craftsman who was an expert in authentic Native American regalia. They discovered and subsequently commissioned Ed Benz of Borger, Texas to construct the two new replacement bonnets. Mr. Benz was an Eagle Scout and former OA region chief (Region 9A). He was also a well known Native American regalia designer and craftsman. Once Mr. Benz was in receipt of the confiscated bonnets, he worked diligently over the next several months to use their feathers to construct the two new replacement bonnets. Mr. Benz completed the bonnets sometime late in 1982, and he delivered them to Bill Downs on December 15th of that same year. National Chief Robert A. Wade and National Vice Chief William B. O’Tuel first wore the new replacement bonnets at the National Planning Meeting in December of 1982, and subsequently at the 1983 National OA Conference held at Rutgers University located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Of special note: the National OA Committee attached a yellow memorial ribbon to the bonnet of the national vice chief in memory of Josh Sain. Josh was serving as the national vice chief when he was tragically killed in an auto accident on October 24, 1997. The memorial ribbon is a permanent reminder of Josh’s cheerful service, and his life long dedication to servant leadership.

The national chief and vice chief ceremoniously used the replacement bonnets on a regular basis for over 20 years. However, in keeping with its “Protected Feather Clarifications” policy, the National OA Committee decided to retire the authentic golden eagle feather bonnets and to acquire new bonnets for the national chief and vice chief that were made from imitation eagle feathers. In keeping with tradition, it was decided that the new bonnets had to be exact replicas of the retired bonnets. The construction of these replica bonnets was assigned to Ron Bell and Wayne Dukes of the National OA Committee. These two Arrowmen were also Lead Advisers with American Indian Events (AIE). Ron was tasked with creating the beadwork and Wayne was tasked with the bonnet’s feather construction. To assist them in their work, they both had requested photographs of the retired bonnets in order to replicate their designs down to the smallest detail. Ron and Wayne collectively spent countless hours of extremely meticulous work to produce the replica bonnets that are still in use today. The retired bonnets were last used by the National Chief Jeff Hayward and National Vice Chief David Dowty at the 2004 National Order of the Arrow Conference held at Iowa State University, located in Ames, Iowa. In addition, the new replica bonnets were first used by the National Chief Sean Murray and Vice Chief Christopher Schildknecht at the National Planning Meeting in December of 2005, and subsequently by them at the at the 2006 National Order of the Arrow Conference held at Michigan State University located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The authentic golden eagle feather bonnets that were created as replacements for the original bonnet are themselves now treated as historical artifacts of the OA and are still on permanent loan to the BSA / OA. These bonnets are placed on permanent display at the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.

1, National Event, OA, Profile, Scouting