History of the Tribe of the Silver Tomahawk
Silver Tomahawk - Burlington, Iowa early 1950's, This was the Mic O Say program. It was started by Earl Ring, a scout executive, who transferred there from Kansas City.
In essence, the Tribe of the Silver Tomahawk, as a blend of the traditions of the Order of the Arrow and the Tribe of the Mic-O-Say, has a rich history behind how these two organizations played a part in creating the Tribe of the Silver Tomahawk.
Beginning in 1915, Scout camps across the country started organizations to recognize scouts who they considered honor campers. The first of these organizations, the Order of the Arrow, was founded in 1915 by Camp Director E. Urner Goodman at Treasure Island Scout Reservation in New Jersey. This program proved to be successful, and was approved as a national experimental program by the Boy Scouts of America in 1922. Also in that year, a Scout Executive, H. Roe Bartle, known as Chief Lone Bear began running a program known as the Tribe of the Mic-O-Say. Many other societies began to grow, including the Golden Sun Lodge of the Tribe of the Quivira, Pipestone, Firecrafters, and at Camp Eastman, Silver Tomahawk. On June 2, 1934, the Order of the Arrow became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. In the next year, the OA’s popularity grew and Silver Tomahawk was chartered as the 80th Order of the Arrow Lodge on July 4, 1935.
Until 1948, the Order of the Arrow was a self-governing organization, and was adopted by many councils that did not already have honor societies. By the 1970s, almost every council in the USA had a standardized OA Lodge. However, Silver Tomahawk has undergone many changes in the process of becoming what it is today. In 1958, Earl W. Ring, or Chief Far Trails, who had become the Scout Executive of the Southeast Iowa Council, dropped the council’s affiliation with the OA in 1959, and established his own branch of Mic-O-Say, the Tribe of the Silver Tomahawk.
This new “Tribe” brought many new and exciting changes to the program. Ring established a group of high-ranking adult Tribesmen to carry out the workings of the Tribe, and a Council of Chieftains handled the administration. The Tribe thrived and grew at Camp Eastman from 1959 until Ring’s passing in 1963. In December of that year, a new Scout Executive, Mr. Bill Kephart, took over and re-chartered with the Nation Order of the Arrow once again as Silver Tomahawk Lodge 80. The first event of this new Lodge was a Spring Encampment help on April 10-11, 1964.
Perhaps the biggest change after this re-charter was the appointment of new youth officers as well as a “Traditions Council” to serve as the governing body of the Tribe. This Council was re-organized in April, 1965 and renamed the Lodge Executive Committee. The present structure of the Executive Committee was essentially the same with new members and small changes to the sub-committees. September, 1967 brought about another milestone when the Tribe held its first Fall Conclave at Camp Eastman.
The next several years saw only minor changes in the program, most of them with the goal of creating a smooth blend of the Order of the Arrow and the Mic-O-Say Tribal program. Lodge 80 continued on until 1994 when Southeast Iowa Council merged with Saukee Area Council to form Mississippi Valley Council.
This also caused the merger of Camp Eastman’s Silver Tomahawk Lodge 80 with Saukenauk Scout Reservation’s Maheengun Lodge 136 in 1995 to form Ka-Ti-Missi Sipi Lodge 37. The new Lodge 37 caused almost all of the Mic-O-Say traditions of Silver Tomahawk to be suppressed, leaving much discomfort on the Silver Tomahawk side. For the next two years, both sides discussed amongst themselves and the National Order of the Arrow a way to resolve this problem. In 1997, it was settled in a vote to return to the original Lodges. The vote passed and Camp Eastman reacquired Lodge 80, and Saukenauk its Lodge 136.
The new re-charter proved to be successful until 2003 when once again Lodge 80 merged with Lodge 136 to this time form Black Hawk Lodge 67 with Silver Tomahawk and Maheengun Chapters. The two groups that made up this new Lodge went through many hardships, and in 2005, it was decided by the Silver Tomahawk Chapter to cut all ties with the National Order of the Arrow to form the Silver Tomahawk Honor Society. The program which exists today has been virtually unchanged since 2005, and operates solely at Camp Eastman. Silver Tomahawk continues to be a unique blend of the traditions of the Order of the Arrow and the Tribe of the Mic-O-Say as well as a major part of the program in the Mississippi Valley Council.
This information is available due to the countless house of work put in by a select few generous individuals within the Tribe of the Silver Tomahawk.