On the TOTEM-BOARD No.2 Nov. I; 1917

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1) Snow Hunger Crow Grass Planting Rose Moons Moons THE WOODCRAFT LEAGUE OF AMERICA 13 West 29th Street New York City Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton, De Winton, Lake Ave. Greenwich, Conn. On the TOTEM-BOARD November 1917 The Red Cross It serves so noble and beneficient a purpose that it must appeal to all who love their country and all who love humanity. WOODROW WILSON. Have YOU joined? Have the BOYS joined? Have the GIRLS joined? Thunder Red Hunter Leaf-fall Mad Long night Woodcraft League of America 13 West 29th St. New YorK 2)

The Totem Board
A News Bulletin published occasionally by the Council of Guidance of The Woodcraft League of America, Inc. 13 West 29th Street, New York City.
Ernest Thompson Seton President and Chief
Grace Gallatin Seton Vice-President
Elon Huntington Hooker Treasurer
Mark Sullivan Secretary
Jean Walace Miller Assistant Secretary
Philip D. Fagans Executive Secretary

An Opportunity and an Obligation.

There are exciting days. Our streets are filled with the men who march away to battle and with the women who work for the sick and wounded. We face the greatest crisis in our nation’s history, and as individuals are pulled this way and that by our sense of duty. Some have gone to the front or have given themselves entirely in other ways. Others have been called upon to stay at hame and “keep the home fires burning”.

Let us do our duty wherever it may be, but let us remember, even as the sound of the drum and bugle sends the tingle through us, that into our hands have been committed the lives of the boys and girls. Shall we use the impulses and feelings of the moment to get results that perhaps could never be gotten at any other time, or shall we allow the emotions to pass off unused?

Take advantage of the times to teach real patriotism of the thoughtful sort, to stress the importance of thrift, unselfishness, courage, obedience. The twelve laws of Woodcraft have peculiar meaning to-day. Read them again in the light of the moment.

Let the boys and girls have definite tasks to do for the expression of their patriotism, but remember to let them laugh and play.

There never was a time when the Woodcraft Program would produce better results as a character builder than now. Hear what Ernest Thompson Seton says in the Woodcraft Manual for boys:

“In the beginning, Woodcraft was the only science known to man, because he lived in the woods, and there had to master the things of his everyday life.

“Thus it gave him skill with his hands, speed with his feet, as well as knowledge of all wild nature. It taught him to swim and be brave, as well as obey his leader and be true to his clan. The first time he failed in any of these things might easily mean death. Those who survived were the ones who had learned by heart all the big lessons of Woodcraft. It was not only so then, but it has always been so, and is so to-day.

“All the great men who have made history were trained first in the school of Woodcraft. Nimrod, the mighty hunter, who built the city of Ninevah; Sardanapalus, the lion-killer, the monarch of Assyria, who by the force of his own arms overcame two lions that attacked him at one time; Brennus, the Gaul, who could shoe his own horse and who was able to master all Rome; Rollo, the sea king, who could steer his own ship in the wildest water, and landed in Normandy to establish order and lay down laws that are now accepted all over the world; William, the Conqueror, of England, the hunter whose bow was the strongest among all the archers of his day; Charlemagne, the great hunter, careful farmer, world master; William of Orange, hunter, fisherman, sportsman, horseman, arbiter of the destinies of all the British Empire; Washington hunter, woodsman, frontiersman, farmer and army scout, able to run, wrestle, command or obey; Abraham Lincoln, hunter, pioneer, woodsman, horseman, planter, farmer; U. S. Grant, back-woodsman, frontiersman, farmer boy, soldier, big brother to five little ones. These and the whole long list of names in the Hall of Fame, all bear testimony to the truth of this whether in wood or on farm, all their essential training was in mastering the daily obstacles of life; obstacles which called for handicraft and nature knowledge, strength, and dogged determination, qualities which ever doubled as they were used.

“These are the things that Woodcraft built into us in the beginning; these in their total are High Manhood; and these are the things that are ever ready to reappear at the call of Woodcraft to-day.”

These moments when the world is being moved will pass away. Let us use them to build character which will be worthy of the times.

Good News for the Tribes.

A Membership Ticket.

A very unique and attractive membership ticket is being prepared by Headquarters for the members of the local tribes. It will consist of two celluloid covers, one ticket, and one memo tablet. The outside of the covers will be printed in blue and will contain the Twelve Secrets of Woodcraft as drawn by Ernest Thompson Seton. Inside will be found the twelve laws, the purpose of Woodcraft, etc. The ticket will be signed by the Chief and Executive Secretary, with spaces for the name of the local tribe, the name of member and the name of the local Head Guide. Sufficient tickets will be supplied to all chartered tribes upon reporting to Headquarters the number of members.

New Members’ Application.

In the Query Section will be found this month a question regarding new members. We find that the methods as to receiving new members vary greatly. There has been prepared an application blank to be signed by the prospective member and endorsed by the parents. It will make sure that the candidate knows what he is doing, that the parents approve and that the tribe gets a real member rather than temporary enthusiasm. The blanks will be supplied by Headquarters at the rate of 25 for 20 cents.

New Honors.

A number of new coups appropriate for the war conditions will be contained in the next edition of the Totem Board. They will help to encourage Woodcrafters to do their share. Special War Degrees are also being considered. Suggestions along either line will be gladly received by the committee. 3)

The Chief's Corner.

“We want some stunts that we can get up in a hurry”, writes one Woodcraft Guide.

“Can you give us some good initiations?” writes another.

I was tempted to tell the first to go to the Manual and he would find abundance of the thing he needed; but experience shows that it is good to tell a thing in different ways.

Here is stunt No. 1, also useful in some of the tests: Make a fuzz stick, or fire lighter. like that on page 223 of the Boys’ Manual, or page 215 of the Girls’, only better. It needs good soft wood, a sharp knife and a steady hand. It is hardest to do at the first few cuts: it becomes easier afterward. It is perfect if finished with every one of the twenty or thirty slivers still strongly attached to the stick — not one fallen to the ground. Unless you have tried to make a fire under difficult conditions, such as snow or rain, you cannot realize the value of the fuzz stick.

For a simple outdoor test, send off a scout to find two tree leaves or two blades of grass exactly alike. It sounds easy when one remembers the millions of chances. yet it is very certain that he will fail There will surely be some mark or line to distinguish one from the other.

Another stunt, and one that I almost fear to tell of, is the barnyard concert. Get three or four different sized empty tins, say cocoa, condensed milk, peas and tomatoes; some cord about as thick as a goose quill and some powdered rosin.

In the middle of the bottom of each tin make a hole just big enough to take the cord. Tie a knot on the inside of it and leave about three feet of the loose end hanging; rub some rosin on the cord, then hold the tin in one hand and draw the cord slowly or with jerks through the other hand or finger and thumb. The result is a succession of chicken-like squawks. Each tin has its own player. They are named “Cochine Rooster”, “Old Hen”, “Bantam” and “Spring Chicken”.

“By modulating the squawks with long or short jerks, the barnyard calls may be closely imitated and a wonderful squawk and cackle concert is the result. Whether agree-able or not is a matter of opinion. I only hope that parents will not have hard feelings toward me for suggesting it.

On page 11 of both the Girls’ and Boys’ Manuals are given five initiation tests, but the number is to be increased.

All we require of initiations is that they are harmless and calculated to develop strength of character. Of course, they are always given under guidance of some wise grown person.

No. 2, “Keep Goodnatured”, is usually called “the goat”, because frequently it is worked with a big wooden medal with a goat on it. This is hung around the applicant’s neck and must be worn for the approved period. If anyone manages to make him or her lose their temper, they get the goat. One fellow last summer tried and failed eighteen times before he got through, and there is no question that he was the better for the discipline.

In another number I shall tell of the initiation by the business test, the double business test, the pride cure, keeping the gate and others.


The Query Sign!

(Under this department questions will be answered from time to time.)

Question: “What is the best way to get new members for a tribe?”

This is such an important question that we have asked a Head Guide who has been particularly successful in his Woodcraft work to answer the question.

“We just don’t try.” We are more interested in doing our tribal work well, and know that if it is done well it is reflected in the Tribe and thus makes other boys want to sit in our council.

“We have been very slow in increasing our membership. When a boy expresses a desire to join the —-— he may come as a visitor at one of the councils. He is then requested to stay away until such time as we have discussed the advisability of his becoming a member of the Tribe. If it is found that he will not make a good member, he is not invited again. But if to all appearances he will be of help to the Tribe and the Tribe can be of help to him he is invited to study the laws and finally take his initiation test and become a member.

“We discourage the boys from promiscuously seeking new members, and this has resulted in a greater desire on the part of non-members to join. The boys themselves have such high regard for the Council Ring that they are just as desirous as the Guide to have only real boys as members.”

This question was answered by a Head Guide who started with three boys in his own home about six months ago. He now has a dozen boys, wiht a long waiting list. We believe emphatically that his policy of putting emphasis on what the Tribe does rather than on getting new members is bound, in the long run, to work for the best results, so far as membership is concerned.

The War and the Child.

Dr. Anna H. Shaw, Chairman Woman’s Committee. Council of National Defense, has written calling attention to the fact that the Federal Child Labor Bill will release large numbers of children from many employments in which they were formerly engaged, and urging that every possible step be taken to keep these children in school. We are glad to pass this message on to our Guides and members and at the same time wish to again urge the importance of seeing to it that the work with the children is taken care of properly this coming winter. We must. of course, see that our soldiers are protected. We must not, however, allow our enthusiasm for some of the more recent needs dim our responsibility to the work already undertaken. In some cases we have found Woodcraft Tribes being temporarily discontinued because of the stress of the work with adults. Woodcraft work, when properly conducted, is character-building work of the highest order. The increasing needs of work with older people should mean the calling in of extra volunteers rather than the dropping of the children’s work.


The Tale of What a Woodcraft Tribe Did During the Month of September.

Before the boys went on their vacations each was furnished with a diary by the Guide, and it was planned that these diaries would be read as “report of scouts” at the opening of the fall season. Each Brave was to report as 4) much of his vacation activities as would be interesting to our Tribe. It was found, however, that there was so much to tell that this plan could not be carried out.

So the Saturday afternoon following was devoted to the report of scouts. At this council, which lasted about three hours, some very interesting reports were made on the work done during the vacations. Several of the boys made collections and turned them over to the Tribal Museum, and we now have a very interesting exbibit of bird’s nests, an exhibit of minerals, which was given to one of the boys by a mineralogist; turtle’s eggs; a snake and a walking stick.

Several of the Woodcrafters had achieved coups during their vacations and put in their claims, with the satisfactory witnesses for approval by the High Council. Since that time the following has been done.

Scout reports on local birds.


Practising of two songs — “Allouette” and “Aw-nee”.

Practising the snake dance.

The giving of nicknames to the boys. (In our Tribe we are quite particular about the giving of Indian names. We find that it adds much to the council to give nicknames from time to time, and await the exceptional deed on the part of the boy before the real Indian name is given. Such nicknames as “Walks-Much”, “Wiggler” and “Fine Fire” have been given. An Indian name was given to the chief.)

A little bead work has been done by one of the Braves.

Head bands were made by several.

One new member was brought into the Tribe.

Claims for 19 coups and 4 degrees have been passed by the High Council.

A soccer team has been formed.

A soccer ball was purchased from the funds in the treasury.

Three of the councils have been held outdours around a real fire. At two of these councils the fire was lighted with the rubbing sticks. At the third council Wakonda refused to bring fire. For each of the outdoor councils a fire-keeper was appointed, who prepared the wildwood material for the evening’s council fire.

At the outdoor council the Tribe permitted members of the members’ families as visitors, and they were requested to sit in an outer circle but not enter into the doings of the council.

We had a visit from a Chief of another Tribe, who told stories. He told the story of “How Woodcraft Started”, as told by Black Wolf.

Election of new officers.

At the indoor council a new method of lighting the imitation fire was used. A flashing electric light arrangement was used to give the effect of a fire underneath the yellow silk to represent an actual fire.

A grass mat was made by the members of the Tribe from instructions in the Manual.

A demonstration of the making of five of the fires was given by the Guide. These fires are still intact for demonstrations to the boys.

A Saturday trip to the Newark Library to see their Natural History Museum. It was originally planned that the boys go out with the Insect Club in connection with the Junior Museum of Newark, but owing to the rain the time was spent in the Natural History Library of the Museum.

A Contribution to the War Work Fund.

The Council of Guidance, according to the request of the War Work Council of the Y.M.C.A. of New England, has released Mr. Philip D. Fagans, the Executive Secretary of the League, for about three weeks during November to act as the Boys’ Campaign Director for the State of Massachusetts in the effort to raise $100,000 among the boys as their share of the $35,000,000 to be raised for work among the soldiers at home and abroad.

The State is divided into districts, each with a campaign director for boys’ work, and in each district every town and city has its own committees and directors. Mr. Fagans will work with the district leaders. The campaign ends November 19th.

The Woodcraft League makes this arrangement as one of its contributions to the country. It is hoped to follow out most of the plans previously made for November and to keep the Woodcraft work up to date. Headquarters expects to comply with the requests of the guides and members, but may have to ask your indulgence in some matters.

The Woodcraft Manual.

Frequently we are asked about one thing or another by a Guide or Big Lodge Woodcrafter, and in many cases the answer is “Look in the Manual”. We do not believe that any Tribe will do good all-around work unless the members either own or have access to the Woodcraft Manual. Even in the midst of these times we believe that the American boys and girls could make no better investment than this. What about your tribe? Do they really know Woodcraft? Have they all copies of the Manual?

A distinguished educator wrote us the other day:

“I have examined the Manual and it makes me feel like going back to nature and becoming a disciple of the trees and plants, the insects and birds, the wild plants and the wild beasts. It must be an education in itself to pass through all the stages of a Woodcraft League. It means vigor of body, keenness of mind and cleanness of heart.

“You may well devote your life to this work, for nothing will be more wholesome for the boys and girls of America than the Woodcraft League.”

If it makes a man feel that way it will produce the same results and more among the members of your Tribe. See that they get copies to-day.


Mrs. Grace Thompson Seton has spent the best part of October organizing the Washington Auxiliary of the Woman’s Liberty Loan Committee, which has resulted in a brilliant campaign, in which the women’s work in the various sub-committees was responsible for over $2,500,000 of the total $19,000,000 subscribed in Washington.

The Woodcraft Potato Club of Valley Cottage has kindly loaned to Headquarters an unusual exhibit of the work of the club not only in potato growing but in canning and preserving. They worked out a very comprehensive system of encouraging the children to do good work, as may be seen by the row stakes, bulletin boards, totem, etc. When the potato blight struck them they plowed under their potatoes and turned to other vegetables. Included in the exhibit is a choice lot of canned vegetables, fruit and jelly. The exhibit will remain at headquarters until about the middle of the month. Come in and see it — bring your Tribe members.

Ernest Thompson Seton, Chief, and Philip D. Fagans, Executive Secretary, presented Woodcraft in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse on October 10th, 11th and 12th. In Buffalo they spoke in eight schools, held a conference and a grand council; in Rochester they spoke in two schools, held two conferences and one grand council, while in Syracuse one meeting was held at the Free Public Library. Mr. Seton and Mr. Fagans also spoke in Bridgeport, where four Woodcraft Tribes have been organized, at the High School, Friday, October 19th.