Proposed OA Membership Ceremony – New (and True) Legends, No False Claims

Our proposed replacement for our membership ceremonies with true legends and no false claims of relationships with Native American culture or use of religious symbols.


This material is offered here for discussion only.

Unlike current practice where we have separate Ordeal and Brotherhood ceremonies, both are together in a single ceremony. So those who become Brotherhood do so in front of those who are not yet eligible for Brotherhood. This is consistent with our long-established understanding that the two are a single induction. And more important, that our founder’s original vision of a single level of membership is fulfilled. The National OA Committee already got rid of the separate Brotherhood obligation as inappropriate. It is our hope that new Ordeal members seeing others sealing their membership in front of them will be encouraged to do the same.

The Brotherhood portion of this proposal only takes a fraction of the time that the current Brotherhood ceremony requires. The circle is only opened once and closed once for both ceremonies together. Second, there is no leading the Brotherhood candidates around the fire and challenging them. They have already been admitted to the circle, so a walk around the fire to be accepted actually contradicts that. Third, each of the Tests of the Brotherhood takes place in parallel rather than candidates needing to wait for each other. The Tests of the Brotherhood remain, each with its own new legend. Together, these changes make it clear that the Brotherhood honor is not a separate membership level, but rather a completion of the process begun in the Ordeal. Seeing others seal their membership will encourage the new members to want to do so themselves.

Note that this is NOT the (also completely unofficial) ceremony that the GIED presented to the National OA Committee in September of 2021. It does take a lot of material from that ceremony. But we have improved the ceremony tremendously since then.

REMINDER: This proposed ceremony is totally unofficial and may NOT be used to induct candidates!

WARNING: This proposed ceremony includes a Brotherhood ceremony within it. If you are not yet Brotherhood yourself, it may ruin your experience when you become Brotherhood. The OA is not a secret society. Ultimately, you control your own experiences as a member. To quote the pre-Ordeal Ceremony: “You must choose”.

Download: OA Membership Ceremony proposed by GIED v42

See also a detailed treatment of our solution to include the valuable parts of our original legend: Comparison of Our Proposed Legend of the First Elangomat with the Order’s Original Legend

See also our new understanding of our Order’s principle of Brotherhood. This resulted in a change to a new legend about our founder, as well as a new symbolic action in version 42 of our proposal. Brotherhood isn’t just our ties together. It is our ties to all humankind.


1. The following is our definition of inappropriate use of Native American lore: (1) any false claim to special association with the culture, as well as (2) anything religious. In addition, anything objectionable from some other religious perspective is inappropriate, even if not related to Native American culture.

We have identified only the following clear cases in current ceremonies:
Both legends are false claims to special association
Brotherhood legend centers on a vision quest
Meteu, a medicine man / shaman
Taking away the individual’s name to accept a mythical figure within

2. Remove/replace only those Native American words that prevent candidate understanding

Replace the names of the four Principals as it blocks rather than enhances understanding:

Allowat Sakima–>Servant, Meteu–>Sage, Nutiket–>Guardian, Kichkinet–>Guide

Retain the word Elangomat and the Admonition as change would confuse with no benefit.

Retain Wimachtendienk Wingolauchsik Witahemui and WWW as historical artifacts only.

3. Native American legends

Current legends are fake, obviously so in numerous ways.
Uncas was an historical figure (c.?1588 – c.?1683), a Mohegan chief who was involved in
alliances with the English settlers. Which is inconsistent with his living “in the dim ages
of the past” as our legend states. He was not a Delaware, as our legend states. His father
(obviously) was not a Delaware either, and was not named Chingachgook. (See Wikipedia).
They do not present actions for candidates and members to emulate. New members should
be setting the example in their units, not traveling and speaking like Uncas does.
Brotherhood members should be setting the example of cheerful service in the Order and
in the rest of their lives, not working for world peace (as worthy as that might be).
Both legends are militaristic and deal with international relations, which is not what our Order is about.

As was typical in the first 50 years of Scouting in the US, both legends involve an “Indian war”,
This identification of Native Americans with war is offensive.

The story of Billy Clark declares that the principles of the Order arose from an event that
occurred well before we had our legend. And thus that the legend’s claim that the Order’s
principles of Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service are derived from a preexisting
Native American organization is false to anyone who knows the story of Billy Clark.
The legend was developed by the founders from an Old English legend, and converted to
reference the Delaware Indians and Chingachgook and Uncas. This falsification may have
been acceptable by the standards of the day, but it certainly isn’t now.
The Brotherhood legend says that the Delaware were as warlike as the other tribes and
disavows the idea that the Delaware were innocent, just defending themselves. Which makes
the visits to villages by Chingachgook and Uncas nothing but military recruiting, devoid of
the higher vision originally intended. In other words, the Brotherhood legend has stripped
the Ordeal legend from its ethical roots. We used to make the claim that the “real enemy”
was indifference on the part of the Lenape, rather than the other tribes. This is gone.

Goodman told one of us that he believed that the legend was the biggest mistake made in the
founding of the Order. He said they intended it to be believable, But that youth even then (50
years ago) were not as naive as those in 1915.
Our proposal replaces both Lenape legends (which tell tall tales of our founding) with actual
true legends of our founding.

4. Native American clothing and other cultural elements

There is nothing within our proposed text that creates inconsistencies if the four officers are or

are not wearing Native American outfits. So future rule changes or alternatives will not

require any textual changes to this ceremony. The current ceremonies, by comparison, imply

Indian outfits as the four have Native American titles. This looks incongruous in lodges that

are using alternatives to Indian dress.

Allow replacement with archery, thus retaining name “Order of the Arrow”

No item is to be worn around the neck except for the single-color neckerchief

Allow replacement with Scout uniforms

No item is to be worn around the neck except for the single-color neckerchief

Use established colors to allow all to tell one officer from another
Yellow = East = Sunrise = Guide

Green = South = Earth = Guardian

Red = West = Sunset = Sage

Blue = North = Sky = Servant [Leader]

5. Replace gendered words

Including pronouns

Replace “brothers” with “brothers and sisters” when it sounds right

See exception in #6 “Brotherhood” below.

6. “Brotherhood” is a weak primary principle, as it encourages “us vs them”. And is masculine.

There are three primary ways in which “Brotherhood” is used in the OA

As one of three principles: “Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service”

As a part of an alternate name: “Brotherhood of Cheerful Service”

As the 2nd of 3 honors of membership: “Brotherhood Honor”
In addition, the word “Brother” has its own meaning.

The word is so deeply woven into the fabric of the order that its replacement would be shocking.

We propose not to replace it when used in a listing of our principles, but in other cases replace

with “friendship” or similar but only where it fits.

We propose to establish that the highest form of Brotherhood (that urged by our Admonition) is to

love all of mankind, sharing our attitude of Cheerful Service throughout our lives and not

limited to our brothers and sisters in the Order.

7. Only one level of membership, as originally decided by Goodman but abandoned that Fall.

Brotherhood will no longer be a separate level of membership

No separate ceremony.

Will become the “Brotherhood Honor” and those who receive it will be called “Fletchers”.

Will not be called “Brotherhood Members”.

Equivalent (shorter) ritual to exist within membership ceremony, with all members watching them receive recognition. That the other members might want to experience it themselves.

Material is useful to all members.

The Order has already abandoned having a separate obligation for the Brotherhood. Our

proposed changes are further in the same direction. We eliminate separate Brotherhood
passwords and hailing signs as they imply a separate level.

Vigil Honor also not a “level” or “degree” (mostly a matter of terminology).

The Order has already abandoned terms “Brotherhood Member” and “Vigil Honor Member” and

“level” in favor of “honor”. Our changes are further in the same direction.

8. Remove/replace any rituals (such as investing and divesting) which in any way imply that the ceremonial team member in any way “becomes” something or someone else and/or gives up their own identity while performing the ceremonies

Objectionable because it implies that the Scout becomes an American Indian.

Objectionable for religions reasons

Appears occult and mystical.

Inviting a “spirit” into yourself sounds a little like demonic possession or idolatry to some.

Objectionable because it is Method Acting

We should be speaking from our own hearts, not “playing” at being something/someone else.

We should not be doing anything like “acting” as it appears insincere. And sincerity is the most important emotion to convey to the candidates.

It does not appeal to the sensibilities of Scouts and their parents.

Ritual which has the team preparing themselves to begin/end their roles is acceptable if above

issues are avoided.

9. Appeal to the interests of today’s Scouts and the perspectives of their parents.

10. Any remaining Masonic patterns and influence should be removed.

11. Reduce secrecy

Parents do not want their children to join secret societies.

Parents should always be welcome, as well as community and religious leaders.

Goodman’s original 1915 ceremonies were not secret.

Secrecy totally removed for the equivalent of Brotherhood membership as it is no longer a level

of membership and ritual takes place in front of the new Ordeal members.

Handclasp and Admonition are useful and should be retained. They are to be understood as

bonds between us, not as secrets.

Asking members who enter for the Admonition or Hailing Sign is removed. A Scout is

Trustworthy. No Scout would falsely pretend to be a member. Instead, those entering are given

the Admonition. Members have never actually been refused admission to any OA ceremony

just because they forgot some “secrets”.

12. Questions during entrance to ceremony should not have negative responses. No “they have not” or similar. All must put in positive terms what the candidates have done, seen, will do, etc. All dialog must be entirely congratulatory and welcoming. The past approach is appropriate for other fraternal organizations (such as the Masons) that control their own membership, but not for the OA where membership is controlled by outsiders. No dialog should imply that the right to be welcomed into the circle (and thus the Order) is dependent on anything other than their election and completion of the Tests of the Ordeal (the Ancient Quest).

13. The word “Ordeal” needs to be retained because of its popularity. But it is harsh, particularly for the parents. Other terms like “quest”, “test”, and “trial” are in common use in younger generations. And the tests of the Ordeal are only shadows of those subsequent tests (per current text and understanding). Explain “Ordeal” as being the “Ancient Quest”. The term “trials” implies what you to through before the main contest. Which is precisely correct.

14. Eliminate the three symbolic preparations to receive the obligation. We propose that the hand on shoulder be eliminated as a Youth Protection violation. Likewise, steps toward the council fire has already been eliminated as it often causes crowding (Youth Protection violation) and potential overheating (too close to the fire). Of the three symbolic preparations, this leaves only the rope. Eliminate the rope as well. No point in only one symbolic preparation. Few even know the meaning of the symbolic preparations other than ceremonial nerds (like ourselves). Complicates putting on the ceremony with little benefit. Distracts with little content worth saving. Implies that candidates who have completed their Ordeal have other requirements to become members. And one of them is the most-often mentioned presumed Masonic influence on the OA ceremonies. Goodman himself spoke privately about this specific problematic similarity to Masonic ritual.

15. Replace the 3 taps and the 1,2 taps with taps on their own left shoulders with their right hand, followed by loudly calling out the words “The Scout Oath” with response being “The Scout Law”.

Tapping on other people’s shoulders is not permitted for youth protection reasons. Drum beats add unnecessary complications, equipment, and training, and call to mind Indian Lore. So our approach does not use it. Claps sound stupid. And neither of these alternatives work well. It should be like a door knock.

16. Replace the word “clan” or “crew” in “Elangomat Clan System” with “patrol”.

Presumably, “clan” meant “KKK” to some sensitive person, in spite of the root of the word being ancient Scots/Irish culture. A group of candidates, led by Elangomats, has the objective of growing together, like a family. The term “crew” sounds too much like “work crew”, which hides our objective. It’s what we called groups of candidates in the “bad old days” when candidates were transferred from one crew to another to maximize work, with disregard for relationships.

Alternative would be “family” which calls to mind the correct concept, but might not be be acceptable. Easy solution is “patrol”, which leaves no room for misinterpretation.

17. The “mingling of blood” is just too important to be left out. It must be retained in the ceremony. Yet, for youth protection reasons:

* Cannot actually cut hands

* Cannot even pretend we are actually cutting hands

* Cannot show a knife, or any cutting instrument, or anything that looks like one

* Cannot even say or imply we are going to actually cut

* Must explicitly say we are not actually cutting

* Cannot use or show anything resembling blood

* Yet must call solidly to mind the cutting of hands to mingle actual blood

In ancient times, it was common to wrap something around the joined hands or arms to hold the wounds together. We propose to use the Brotherhood sash wrapped around the joined hands for effect.

18. Reformat text to eliminate the short lines in legends and prayers. Instead, normal sentence structures will be used for all spoken text. We understand this new approach is desired by the National OA Committee. HOWEVER, in the Elangomat Legend, we propose to retain the trochaic tetrameter of the original legend to emphasize the many similarities, including similar plot and identical text in places. We realize that many (ourselves included) love the original legend, in spite of it being inappropriate. So it is important for older members to hear and recognize the old legend in the new.

19. Elimination of anything untruthful.

20. Retain the word “Brotherhood” as one of our principles. “Friendship” is our designated alternative if decision is made to eliminate it because it is masculine.

21. Eliminate “Brother” or “Brothers” when referring to members, except where such change would be cumbersome or less powerful. Use “friends”, “brothers and sisters” and such instead.

22. Introduce the concept of targets. Aim high to reach target not yet seen, not to climb forever. Bear burdens until complete not until lifted from your shoulder.

23. The Elangomat System is a brand/product, and as such is a proper noun. And as such it is obvious that it should always be capitalized.

The term “Elangomat” is often understood as a title, and punctuation rules say that titles are only capitalized when placed immediately before the name of the person with the title: “Elangomat Eddie” and “Eddie is an elangomat” seem correct. But we disagree. We contend that “Elangomat” is a short name for the program, not just a title, and thus should always be capitalized. Do we write “Johnny Jones is a cub Scout”? No. We write “Johnny Jones is a Cub Scout”. Likewise, we should write “Eddie is an Elangomat”.

The term “Elangomat” was purposely and explicitly created as a word to convey a new way of doing Ordeals. A program. Needing a unique name so that the entire set of new interacting processes would be understood as a unit. Since “Elangomat” is a program, not just a title, we always capitalize it in this text and suggest that it should also be capitalized in other documents.

24. Remove all references to militarism and war. This is not what the Order is or should be about.

26. We want to convey a sense of the universal, ancient, fundamental, and primitive. Which is consistent with Scouting historically. But remove anything that goes beyond that and sounds mystical.

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