Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sequoia Tribe Wigwam

A friend wished me Happy IPDP Day on Thursday (meaning Indigenous People Discover Pilgrims). And in the convoluted way we all think, that made me remember this picture I took a couple of years ago.

This is the San Pedro Lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men, a group that claims descent from the Sons of Liberty of pre-Revolutionary War days. (Remember the Sons of Liberty from history class? They're the guys that brought you the Boston Tea Party.)

Like all fraternal lodges, they do good work--in this case, raising funds for Alzheimer research. This local branch--the Sequoia Tribe--also hosts drives to collect canned food and toys for food banks and other groups. Their social events revolve around holidays like St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo, and those are open to the public.

Like all good lodges, they were once men-only but now have a group for ladies: the Degree of Pocahontas.

And of course, they create a place for people to come and socialize. I happen to think that's a noble achievement in the 21st century.

The Improved Order of Red Men is a very patriotic organization--most of their beliefs (on their website) center around love of country, freedom, and democracy. Their motto is "Freedom, Friendship, and Charity." Drawing on the connection to the Sons of Liberty, the Improved Order of Red Men claim that George Washington, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams (the patriot, not the brewmeister) were some of the group's first Sachems.

So why that name? They claim their customs, rituals, and terminology (their leaders are called Sachems, for instance, and as the picture indicates, their meeting halls are Wigwam Lodges) are patterned after early Native Americans. And they hint at regalia for certain ceremonies.

I intended to look up this intriguing group from the time I took this picture, and never quite got around to it. San Pedro's free monthly magazine, San Pedro Today, did the research for me in their November issue. Thank you! (They've taken their website down for reconstruction for a few days, but after December 1, 2011, you should be able to find them here.)

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