From the Lincoln Journal-Star
April 19, 2008

(Scroll down to see the online, readable version of the story -- and a response!)





Boy Scouts attend Great Spirit Camporee

BY LISA MUNGER / Lincoln Journal Star

Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 - 07:20:25 pm CDT

Nearly 350 Boy Scouts gathered at the Naval Reserve Center in Lincoln this weekend to make and shoot bows and arrows, build tipis and cook over campfires.

The Great Spirit Camporee, hosted by Cornhusker Council, was four years in the making and was designed to teach Scouts about traditional Native activities.

Troop 21 Scoutmaster Dan Dulaney said nine of the 12 presenters at the camporee were experts in such fields as tipi history, bison utility, primitive technology and drumming.

“Four years ago, we decided to have an Indian-related scouting event to study Indian history in Nebraska,” Dulaney said.

The Scouts had planned to camp near Denton, but Friday’s rainy weather moved the campsite to Lincoln.

Scouts chose from activities including traditional bow making, drumming, rope making, Plains Indian history and tool making.

Presenters included Ronnie O’Brien, director of education at the Great Platte River Road Archway.

Dulaney said he tried to line up Native consultants, but that didn’t work out. So, he said, he did research on the Internet and met with other Boy Scouts leaders to select activities for the camporee.

Organizers wanted to show what Dulaney called an idealistic interpretation of Native culture, he said, and not focus on the history of tribes being moved onto reservations or other policies of oppression.

“By and large, they (Scouts) are already aware of that,” he said. “We didn’t think we could get into how the white man pushed the red man out of his home.”

Native elder Joe Bad Moccasin Sr. wasn’t at the gathering, but said he worries the Scouts may have contributed to stereotypes and missed the essence of Native culture.

“Many things are more important than learning how to make bow and arrows and tipis and drums,” said Bad Moccasin, a Dakota-Lakota of Lincoln. “Not a lot of us make bows and arrows anymore.

“Worrying about how to make tipis is fine, but there are more important things. That is stereotyping from my point of view.”

Bad Moccasin said he’d talk to the Scouts for a future event if they want him to.

“I would be willing to go out and talk next year if asked. ... Having the Indian there, explaining cultures, traditions, spirituality would break down walls of racism that exist.”

The Scouts planned to host the Many Moccasins Dance Troupe of Winnebago during the Saturday evening campfire.

Sunday morning, they’ll wrap up with a religious service featuring Native prayers and chants to the Great Spirit, Dulaney said.

Matt Showalter, 14, helped plan the service.

“It was a big learning process,” said Matt, who has been in scouting since kindergarten.

“I learned how spiritual they are and how they had their own God.”

Reach Lisa Munger at lmunger@journalstar.com.

A concerned parent wrote on April 21, 2008 8:44 am:
" As a parent who attended this event, I am a little disappointed with the tone of this article. I believe that the organizers worked very hard to present a view into the history of Native American life and had many experts such as Mike Ballard, Ronnie O'Brien and the Many Moccasins Dance Troup there to help in acheiving this goal. For a one day event, the amount of information that was presented to the boys was amazing, and throughout they were learning (and it was stressed by all of the parents and leaders) to have respect for the traditions and history of Native Americans and to learn as much as possible in order to avoid the "stereotypes" that are engrained into our culture. There was much more offered than just bowmaking and drumming, (although both have a part in Native American history), and I think the organizers did an amazing job and they should be commended. "