Improved Order of Red Men

moon, sun, council, called, ritual, american, history, societies and time

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Ritual— The ceremonies of the Order are purely American. The ritual stands, and must ever stand, unique and distinct, growing more valuable as the only realistic demonstration of those mystic ceremonies of the aborigines, which otherwise might fade into oblivion. Founded, as has been stated, on the manners, traditions and customs of the American In dian, it portrays an existence more fascinating the longer it is studied, and gives the keynote to those bursts of eloquence w 'ch were at once the wonder and the admiration of the early mis sionaries, and of which the renowned "Black Hawk" is a shining example. The work of the Order is divided into three sections or degrees — the Adoption, the Warrior's and Chief's each of which illustrates a phase of the char acteristics mentioned. The degrees of the auxiliary branChes of the Order are written in harmony with the general theme of the original ritual.

The attention arrested by the recital of this Order's official life is greatly enhanced when its terminology is considered. The expressions used not only differentiate the Improved Order of Red Men from other civic societies,, but these form links connecting it with prior organizations of Red Men. This is further outlined in the "history' following. Time is not computed as in the common era, but according to a phraseology that has a hidden meaning and significance to the "initiated.' Up to 1865, the Jewish style, namely, the year of the world, was used in dating documents. This was superseded by a revised system and "G. S. D.,' or Great Sun of Discovery, was adopted, the year 1492 being considered G. S. D. 1. For convenience the year begins with that of the common era, and the enumeration follows: A year, Great Sun; a month, Moon; January, Cold Moon; February, Snow Moon; March, Worm Moon; April, Plant Moon; May, Flower Moon; June, Hot Moon; July, Buck Moon; August, Sturgeon Moon; September, Corn Moon; Octo ber, Traveling Moon; November, Beaver Moon; December, Hunting Moon; a week, seven suns; a day is a sun, and a night is a sleep.. Morning is called the rising of the sun; evening, setting of the sun; noon, high sun; midnight, low sun; an hour is a run, and a minute a breath. Ex amples : 30 July 1903 A.D. would be expressed as "30th Sun, Buck Moon, G. S. D. 412,' 1903— 1491=412. "Tribes . . . shall, within two seven suns after the last council sleep in Hot and Hunting moons, transmit,' etc. Wam pum Belt signifies treasury, and wampum or money is computed as follow's: Fathom, one dollar; foot, a dime and an inch is one cent. To illustrate: "In case the wampum shall at any time be reduced to a less amount than five feet for each member, or to less than 50 fathoms, the tribe,' etc. Non-members are called pale faces; tribal jurisdictions are hunt ing grounds; Great Councils govern reserva tions; opening and closing meetings consist of kindling and quenching council fires; minutes are called records; addresses or reports, talks or long talks; attending to business is following the hunt, and wronging another, crossing the path. Wigwam and tepee signify the halls of

meeting, and council chambers, a room therein. Voting is called twigging.

History.—An attempt has been made to establish a succession from the patriotic so cieties of the American Revolution to the Im proved Order of Red Men, but without much historical basis. That such organizations, founded in 1763, existed, there is no doubt. Moreover, the War of 1812, with England, served to foster the assembling and banding to gefher of men fired with patriotic ardor. It is quite these associations may have led to the formation of the societies of Red Men possessing the terminology hereinbefore men tioned,— known to have flourished between the years 1813 and 1830, of which fragmentary records have been preserved. The impulse also may have come from the Tammany societies of the national period prior to 1812. A society of Red Men existed in Philadelphia., Pa., in 1824, and there were branches in other cities and States at earlier and later dates; but the movement, which began in Baltimore, Md., in 1833-34, really seems to be the authentic date of foundation. The Improved Order of Red Men was anti-convivial in its character, and was first brought into public prominence by the observ ance of Saint Tammany's Day (still on the cal endar), 12 May 1837. The Order spread, and, on 20 May 1835, the Great Council of Maryland was instituted, and soon became an incorporated body. On 30 Jan. 1847 the Great Council of the United States was formed as the supreme gov ernment, and this, in turn, became a corporation, by special charter from the legislature of Penn sylvania, approved 30 March 1866. The policy of the Order has been to possess a legal stand ing in the State; and a brotherly hand extended early secured the adherence of the scattered bands of Red Men to the °improved* institution, so that unity of effort soon promised much for the future. The fortunes of the °Improved Order,* however, were fluctuating at first, and, until 1881, when it began to assume its present proud proportions of over 479,000 members, em bracing the entire republic, and reservations in Canada, and disbursing annually in benefits over $1,649,800, and since organization over $34,612,000.

Consult History,' edited by Charles H. Litchman, revised by Charles C. Conly (1893-99), and 'Documentary History of New York' ; 'Constitutions and Digest, I. CI. R

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