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Order of the Arrow/Dakota Dancer Reunion


wo groups, one with an Ozarks history that dates back to the 1920s, the other to the 1950s, and each based on Native American themes, will reunite this weekend in Springfield. Mike Smith has the story.Listen to audio

Among those who will gather Saturday, September 6th at the Dr. Michael J. Clarke History Museum for Ozarks Scouting is Leonard Spellman, who at the age of 12 joined Boy Scout Troop #18 in Springfield. The year was 1926. Spellman, now in his 77th year as a registered scout, says there were several places around Springfield where Scout Troop #18 set up camp, including the Sac River, McCraw's Ford on the James River, and at Camp Arrowhead. As Leonard Spellman's outdoor skills developed, so did his leadership skills, and in the 1930s he was inducted into a group of scouting elite: the Order of the Arrow. In Springfield, the Order of the Arrow scouts belong to the Osage Lodge #42. Founded in 1929, it was the first such scouting unit west of the

Mississippi.

Dean Ertel is the Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America Ozark Trails Council here in Springfield. He says the Order of the Arrow is a program based on truth, honor, goodwill and service above self' service to others. There are three levels of achievement within the Order of the Arrow. There are ordeal members, brotherhood members, and the most honored of all, vigil members.

Although some aspects of the initiation ceremony remain secret, I can tell you that, for the most part, it is held during Boy Scout summer camp. On the night of the ceremony, the scouts are, with arms folded, led silently from their tents or cabins to a remote area where a large bonfire is burning. After the scouts form a circle around the fire, to the sounds of chants and drums based on Native American culture, a chief in full regalia circles the group.

Standing behind the scouts, troop leaders silently identify those scouts

chosen to become Order of the Arrow members.

Though it's not done this way today, after the candidate was identified, the chief would hit the scout in the chest with a padded club. The scout would then be pushed to the inside of the ring. The action is called the "Tap Out." Bob Glaizer, publisher of Springfield Magazine and cabinet member of the History Museum of Ozarks scouting, remembers his initiation into the Order of the Arrow. He says that the chief hit him hard enough with the club that he was sent reeling.

At the Order initiation ceremony a year later, it was Glaizer who held the

club. As he circled the scouts around the fire, a troop leader identified the next scout to be tapped out.

It was his brother.

Not wanting to be seen as going easy on his brother, Glazier hit him hard

enough to break one of his ribs. In the years since Bob Glaizer initiated his brother into the Order of the Arrow, the "Tap Out" itself has been toned down a bit. But according to Ozarks Trails Scout Executive Dean Ertel, the ceremony is always a grand experience. After the tap out, and after the rest of the scouts are led away, the new Order members are then led individually to another remote location. They are handed a match, a knife, a raw egg, and maybe a piece of string. The new

member is then left alone to spend the night without shelter or fire, unless of course he makes either or both.

And from that moment on, the scout, as a member of the Order of the Arrow, is expected to be of greater service than ever before, to his fellow scouts, to his family, and to his community.

Saturday's retrospective on the Order of the Arrow in the Ozarks is only half of the program, scheduled from 10-2 at the Dr. Michael J. Clarke History Museum of Ozarks Scouting. The rest of the program will feature a reunion and history of the Dakota Dancers.

Mary Kellet lives in Springfield. In the 1950s her fellow dancers knew her as Mary Margaret Meers. Kellet says the Dakota Dancers were popular all across the Ozarks.

It was no accident the Dakota Dancers were authentic in their portrayal of Native Americans. The group's leader, Butch Lemons, enlisted the help of Woodrow and Jonny Newalla of the Osage Tribe to teach them how and what to sing, dance steps and even how to make their own clothing.

Jonny Newalla says the Buffalo Dance was among the dances she taught the dancers. Woodrow and Jonny Newalla, along with many of the Dakota Dancers, some coming from as far away as Nevada and Hawaii, will reunite Saturday from 10-2 at the Dr. Michael J. Clarke History Museum of Ozarks Scouting for the program "Legend of the Two Lodges: A History of the Order of the Arrow in the Ozarks and the Dakota Dancers." The museum is located at 1616 S. Eastgate. For

information 883-1636.

I'm Mike Smith.