History of Washita Lodge #288
| Lodge Timeline |
On a crisp February night in 1946, the first formal act of the Order of the Arrow occurred at Boy Scout Camp McClintock. The Tap Out and following Ordeal ceremony was the first action that ultimately resulted in the formation of the Washita Lodge #288. Four men that have now faded away from memory were the first ceremonial characters and principle organizers for this OA Lodge. These men were H.C. Gilbert (Scout Executive serving as Allowat Sakima), Ted M. Clymer (Scout Field Executive serving as Meteu), William (Bill) Nelson (Scoutmaster of Troop 14 serving as Nutiket), and J. H. McBride (Bartlesville Public Schools serving as Kitchkinet).
The first youth members of Lodge #288 were the following:
Charles Malcolm (Pappy) Alexander
Phil Benny Drisko
Surprisingly, compared to present day inductions, there were more adults inducted than youth. Most likely the reason for this was so these troop leaders could properly conduct OA elections within their troops at a later time. The first adult members of our lodge were the following:
E. O. Cloud
J. C. Grisette
Joe F. Long
W. F. Morton
W. N. Palmer
The only nourishment during this first Ordeal was a rye crisp and peanut butter. Part of the Pre-Ordeal at that time included a cup of water (from the icy Sand Creek) being poured over a bare chest. Originally Lodge #288 was named Sequoya. However, at that time a Sequoya Lodge already existed (Sequoya Lodge 184, Johnson City, Tennessee). According to "Pappy" Alexander, our first Lodge Chief, lodge members spent eight hours arriving at the choice of Washita as the new name. Washita was chosen as the lodge name because of the Washita Indians and the Washita Mountains in Oklahoma.
The bison was chosen as the totem for several reasons. A totem symbolizes the spirit of the tribe or clan. The American bison served Indians very well... providing domestic animals, food, shelter, and clothing. It represents the spirit of this Lodge very well - a brotherhood dedicated to serving others. Additionally the bison is generally associated with the American Indians by most people, helping to show that the spirit of Washita Lodge is closely associated with an Indian heritage.
From 1946 to 1953 very little is known about the activities of the lodge other than who was lodge chief. To the best of our knowledge there were no publication printed or records kept from this time period. Records show that the lodge was publishing the Washita Warrior by 1953. This first known issue announced that current chief Ron Walls was elected Chief of Area 9C, as well as chapter information. The Warrior would continue to be the main publication of the lodge to the present day.
Aside from lodge publications, many other notable traditions surfaced in 1953. From this time up until 1980 could be considered Washita’s renaissance years owing to the large numbers of Vigil Honor nominations and the scope of projects and innovations of the lodge during this period of time. It was in 1953 that Scout Field Executive John Westfall (author of the Philmont Hymn) introduced the Wisumahi Ceremony into the lodge. The Wisumahi was adapted from the Mitigwa Dancers Explorer Post of Des Moines, Iowa, and was written by Westfall himself when he was a Scout of 15 years old.
The Wisumahi was placed in between the tap-out and the Pre-Ordeal ceremony. Its purpose was to strengthen the traditions of the Order and the lodge. It worked quite well, as the symbolism of the Pre-Ordeal ceremony was not as developed as the present ceremony. Wisumahi is a Lakota word meaning arrowhead. During the ceremony candidates would learn the symbolism of the different parts of the arrowhead. The Wisumahi was used until around 1980, when the Pre-Ordeal was revised into its present day format.
In 1954, Westfall suggested and introduced our most unique tradition. At this time, the use of claws and coup beads was introduced, to encourage more participation in the lodge. Our beads and claws are a visible symbol of our lodge’s role in Scouting. There were a number of beads in the beginning, and more have been added or changed as the Order has evolved.
The claws were based off of the practices of the Mic-O-Say Indian Dancers of Kansas City. Along with the introduction of the claws and beads, there was also the beginning of Elevations, which were denoted by painting the tips of the claws. This was also based off of Mic-O-Say, and has only been altered twice since its inception. The original elevations were Firebuilder/Drummer (Red), Runner (Yellow), Keeper of the Sacred Bundles (Green), and Medicine Man (White). A non-elevation color, gold, meant that the member was a member of the Tribal Council. These elevations were introduced, ironically, so that the odd jobs around camp would get done. Many of the duties of these elevations are things that no one really wanted to do, so these jobs were made an honor to have. As Westfall said, “Make it an honor, and they’ll jump to do it.”
In 1957, the tap-out was changed. Having previously been a “snatch-him-in-the-dark” routine, it was brought out into the open. Scouts now participate in the tap-out standing in a semi-circle, hoping that they will be chosen for our Order.
From the beginning, Washita #288 has been a major force in service to the council. In 1962/1963 the lodge helped build the “new” ranger’s house at Camp Cherokee. In 1976 the lodge took on its greatest project, the Visitor’s Center Museum at Camp Cherokee. Rudie Janzen, the lodge adviser at the time, contacted over 700 past members of the Lodge to solicit support for the project. Rudie was told by lodges much larger than Washita that this was too big a project to attempt. He formed a committee and moved forward with the project, having a model of the proposed OA building constructed. Lodge members who contributed to the fund received recognition for their support of this project.
The funds were accumulated, and as they were ready to proceed, Lodge member Philip R. Phillips stepped forward and provided funds for the further expansion of the project to a larger building. After contracting for the foundation, Lodge members completed the rest of the building project. Only the best woods and materials were used for the building. Today, this Visitors Center & Museum provides a real link to the past, with hundreds of rare scouting items on display. At Camp Cherokee summer camp each year, the Thursday night's parent's program is enhanced by this center as scouts get to show their parents around in the museum. Other major service projects of interest include the Pop Brewer fire ring at Camp Cherokee (early 1990’s), the dock at Camp Cherokee (1993) and the Camp McClintock Chapel (1997).
Back To Top
Date Event April 1945
Cherokee Area Council is granted a charter for an OA Lodge.
Lodge 288 holds its first induction ceremony. This first ceremony was open to the general public.
The Wisumahi ceremony is introduced.
Claws and elevations are introduced to increase lodge participation.
The tap-out is changed to present-day format.
Jay Janzen creates the first Traditions and Symbols of Washita Lodge. The booklet contains information such as Objectives of the OA, Requirements for Membership (and method of election), Ranks and Positions, Traditions and Symbols, Activities, and Lodge Administration.
The original 4 chapters fold. Tribal Council Members-At-Large replaces the Chapter chiefs.
After Cherokee Area Council consolidates its 4 districts into 2, the lodge establishes chapters based on the new district boundaries.
The silver-bordered 25th anniversary patch is offered for $1 out of the Warrior (3 years after the 25th anniversary!). These patches were one per life.
The Visitor Center Museum is built. Chief Bellinger initiates this history, and Chief Tabler finishes it.
The lodge stops its use of the Wisumahi ceremony, due to the improved format and greater symbolism in the Pre-Ordeal. The Wisumahi has lived out its useful life, and the Pre-Ordeal now covers what it was previous missing.
Daren Herndon is elected as South Central Region Chief.
The 75th anniversary of the OA.
Rob Berner is elected as Southern Region Chief.
The 50th anniversary of our lodge is celebrated by conducting the 1946 ceremony at Camp McClintock. Joe Long Jr. acts as the candidate. As in the first ceremony, the 50th anniversary ceremony is open to the public.
Work begins on the new OA ring at Camp McClintock under the leadership of Sean Urban and Bob Crume. The Ring is dedicated to C. W. "Pappy" Alexander, William (Bill) Nelson, and Joe Long. The Lodge History is brought up to date.
Back To Top