Does Kichkinet have a Single Principle Like the Other Three Ceremonial Officers? Is There a Fourth Hidden Principle?

Allowat Sakima represents the Order’s principle of Service. Meteu represents the Order’s principle of Brotherhood. Nutiket represents the Order’s principle of Cheerfulness. Since the Order of the Arrow has only exactly those three principles, it seems to leave no principle for Kichkinet. There has been significant thought on this simple question over the last 50 years, since the early years of the Ceremonial Advisory Group (CAG). Three solutions have been proposed. We, the GIED, propose a fourth, completely different, answer. We have the audacity to declare that the Order has, and has always had, four principles, not three.

Some have proposed that Kichkinet is a combination of all three principles. He is the only one of the four who travels, who is seen outside of the circle. He carries the three principles of the Order outside of the circle to the candidates during the Ordeal. The Elangomats are his extension, which carries his spirit into each patrol of candidates. And thus carry all three of the Order’s principles to them. This understanding was common in the early CAG.

Others propose that Kichkinet does have his own separate principle. His principle is Leadership. It is leadership that carries the other three principles into the real world. This, for example is what is taught by Jay Dunbar in his ceremonial team training book The Drum.

Yet others propose that given the simple fact that the Order of the Arrow has exactly three principles with all of them “taken” by other ceremonial officers, he properly has no principle of his own and that the above conjectures are insubstantial. There are other places in the ceremonies where one of the four ceremonial officers does not have a role like the others. For example, three of them, rather than four, extinguish candles in the closing.

We, the GIED, propose that the Order of the Arrow has a fourth principle:

  • It has existed as a key element from the very beginning of the Order in June of 1915
  • It is obviously key to the character of the Order
  • It has always been the first stated purpose of the Order (even though the wording has changed over the years)
  • It is the Elangomat’s principle, and thus Kichkinet’s principle
  • The founders made a mistake by not recognizing it as such
  • This mistake led directly to a dark period in the Order’s history

Kichkinet’s principle is “Example”.

Elangomats set an example of the principles of the order. This is obvious; scarcely controversial. Since Elangomats are considered an extension of Kichkinet, it implies that “example” is Kichkinet’s principle as well. It does not contradict the first proposal above, that Kichkinet represents all three: Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service. He is an example of the three.

It does not contradict the second proposal above, that Kichkinet uses leadership to carry those three principles. It refines it. The type of leadership that Kichkinet (and his Elangomats) use to carry those principles is leadership by example.

It solves the issue raised by the third proposal by declaring that there are four principles, not three, Thus each of the four have have their own unique principle. as one would expect.

So it solves the riddle without discrediting any of the prior thinking on the subject.

The Purpose of the Order, as stated in the OA Handbook as its first point, declares the importance of the example of the new member to those who elected him. Election of members by their fellow Scouts existed from the very beginning of the Order. This principle existed before we had private ceremonies, memorized ceremonies, the Ordeal, the Legend, Indian regalia, Indian dancing, elected youth officers, committee organization, section and national meetings, training sessions, sashes with things that looked like arrows, the name “Order of the Arrow”, Brotherhood ceremonies and sashes, Vigil ceremonies and sashes, handbooks, any literature at all, and nearly everything else we now understand as a natural part of the Order today. We had only the three declared principles, their Lenape translation, and public ceremonies delivered extemporaneously. And the principle of example setting. Undeniably, example setting is a foundational aspect of the Order.

The Elangomat system is a central aspect of today’s Order. It is a pure application of the principle of Example. Which suggests that it should be a central stated principle of the Order.

Our founder, Dr. E. Urner Goodman, was forced to essentially quit the Order when he became National Program Director of the BSA. He was not allowed the distraction of involvement in the Order due to the size and scope of his responsibilities. He was only allowed to attend National Lodge meetings every two or three years, which became NOACs. He did not attend lodge, section, area, region, or any national OA events (other than NOAC) during this time. So he was insulated from the day-to-day operation of the Order, and the character of what was happening in lodges.

Unfortunately, the most powerful and experiential element of the Order’s program, the Ordeal, digressed into college-style hazing and harassment of candidates in many cases. Although this conduct was not physically abusive, it was contrary to the principles of Scouting and the Order. And never authorized by the National OA Committee and was always forbidden in the OA Handbook. Yet it became widespread, taking different forms in different lodges. Since the Tests of the Ordeal are meant to teach the principles of the Order, it interfered even with the fundamental character of the Order as a system of passing along a way of happiness and success through cheerful service to others.

In general, OA members, both youth and adults, actually believed that the hazing was appropriate as a way to make membership in the Order more valuable by making it harder to get in. But this college-style thinking is irrelevant to the Order. Not just because it is unscoutlike. But simply because we do not choose our members and thus the Ordeal is an intensive experience, a training program, not a way for us to weed out those we do not like.

This was a dark period in the history of the Order, lasting at least from the 30s through the 70s, and longer in some lodges. It was all too common. The only worse historical conduct was segregation and other mistreatment of Blacks in some lodges.

This ugly situation ended when our GIED founder, with the assistance of some other now-GIED people, created the Elangomat System and spread it across the Order. The example-setting and friendship of the Elangomat stands squarely in the way of those who would interpret the Tests of the Ordeal as opportunities to harass candidates. How was this created? By adding the principle of Example to the Ten Induction Principles.

We believe that Example has always been a principle of the Order. But a hidden one. We believe that had it been established as a fourth principle of the Order in the first few years, something like the Elangomat concept would have naturally arisen in the Order. And that dark period would never have occurred.

As a token of our belief in Example as a fourth principle, we sometimes show a fourth “W”. The symbol at the top of this text, if looked at closely, consists of four “W”s, forming a compass-like star in the center. Each of the “W”s is of the correct color for the ceremonial principal in that direction. For example, Kichkinet in the east is yellow.

It is disquieting to realize that the BSA’s decision to review every program to remove negative, abusive, dangerous, and unscoutlike elements took place just after the Elangomat System had been developed and adopted by most lodges. For example, songs like “Pink Pajamas”, campfire ghost stories, and carving arrows by Ordeal candidates not trained in carving, were removed by this massive BSA-wide review of every program. What would they have thought of the hazing and harassment in many lodges had the Elangomat System not been adopted? It would not be the first time that terminating the Order was seriously considered by the National Council.

Bottom line: We believe that there is a fourth principle of the Order of the Arrow: Example. We are not proposing that it be fully implemented at this time, which would require change to our Obligation. But we do believe that those involved with the Induction are enlightened by knowledge of this fourth principle.

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