Pre-OA Societies In The Inland Empire

Tribe of Siwanis Emblem (Right-Facing)

Tribe of Siwanis Emblem (Right-Facing)

Many know that the current Cahuilla Lodge, which comprises the entirety of Southern California, is made up of several predecessor Lodges.

Navajo Lodge # 98 formed in 1937 and the San Bernardino County portion of the Lodge joined Cahuilla in 2006.  Tahquitz Lodge # 127 began service in 1938 and the Council retained their number 45 through to today.  Ho-Mita-Koda Lodge # 380 formed in 1948 before disbanding in 1952.  The Lodge was reformed as A-tsa Lodge # 380 in 1955 and joined Cahuilla in 1974.  Finally, Wisumahi Lodge # 478 was formed in 1952 and their merger with Tahquitz formed Cahuilla Lodge in 1973.

The Order of the Arrow itself was one of perhaps hundreds of pre-OA Indian societies that were a popular component of a Summer Camp’s program.  A couple survive to this day.  Southern California also had a number of these societies, many of which became Order of the Arrow lodges (i.e.; Tribe of Gorgonio becoming San Gorgonio Lodge).

The Inland Empire had a few.  While I list information about them below, there is much more we don’t know about these groups than we do know.

Tribe of Tahquitz – Camp Tahquitz – Long Beach Area Council

Tribe of Tahquitz (Long Beach Area Council) formed in 1925.  The Tribe was tied to the first Camp Tahquitz (then in Idyllwild) before the modern camp was acquired in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino Mountains.  C.J. Carlson was the Scout Executive for the Council, and his previous employer was Riverside County Council.

The Tribe of Tahquitz continues to this day.  Even with the formation of Order of the Arrow Puvunga Lodge in 2012, the Tribe co-exists with the OA and provides service much the same as they have done throughout their history.

I attended Camp Tahquitz with my Troop in 1993 and enjoyed seeing the volunteer service from the Tribe in putting on Summer camp.  It was a good experience.

Today, many youth Scouts in Long Beach are members of both organizations, and while their traditions and rituals may be different, their service and goals are very similar.  The Tribe is one of a few remaining non-OA honor societies Nationally remaining in the Scouting program that are still active.

Tribe of Tahquitz – Camp Emerson – Riverside County Council

Tribe of Tahquitz (Riverside County Council) formed at an unconfirmed date at Camp Emerson in Idyllwild.  Many local historians have proposed that this Tribe formed first due to C.J. Carlson’s earlier employment in their Council, but I don’t think this is accurate.

First, the Camp was most important to these societies, and their Camp was Emerson (named after Lee Emerson, who donated property for both camps).  In addition, we have located a 1929 Summer Camp booklet from Emerson which indicates that they would be offering the Second Degree for the first time.  The group could have been formed as late as 1928.

I believe this was the second Tribe of Tahquitz.  Both camps were located near each other, and based on geography and Carlson’s relationships, it is easy to see the cross-pollination between each other.  Why the Emerson group chose to use the Tahquitz name is probably lost to history.

Once the Order of the Arrow Lodge formed in 1938, it created a decades-long divide between the organization.  Had Long Beach formed a Lodge first, who knows what would have come of the Riverside County organization?

Early membership cards were labelled Tribe of Tahquitz Lodge, although it appears they were only enrolled Nationally as Tahquitz Lodge.  In 1973, when Cahuilla was formed and Tahquitz was merged, they petitioned to have the Tahquitz name permanently retired.  This seemed spiteful to the Tribe of Tahquitz and unnecessary.

In 2012, when Puvunga was formed, many of these people were disappointed that they didn’t choose Tahquitz Lodge!  Interesting how time changes people.

Tribe of Siwanis – Camp Arataba – Arrowhead Area Council

Tribe of Siwanis (Arrowhead Area Council) formed at an unconfirmed date though it’s name appears in the San Bernardino Sun as early as 1929.  The camp society was tied to Camp Arataba in Barton Flats.  There were members from multiple councils, including records from Grayback and other surrounding Councils.  We know that Wisumahi Lodge displaced this society when they formed in 1952, but how they relate is not clear.

The name relationship between the Tribe of Siwanis and Siwinis Lodge # 252 in Los Angeles is also not evident.  It isn’t clear where the name Siwanis/Siwinis originated from, but its possible it was a Chinook reference to the Nez Perce tribe (research link).

Tribe of Tecopa – Camp Tecopa – Arrowhead Area Council (Nevada)

Tribe of Tecopa (Camp Tecopa?) formed at an unconfirmed date.  It appears it may have been the same or a matching society to the Tribe of Siwanis but held a different name because it was based on Camp Tecopa in the Charleston Mountains Northeast of Las Vegas.

Previously, Scouts from Boulder City and Las Vegas attended Camp Arataba before a fully organized BSA Council existed in Southern Nevada.  It appears this Tribe and the summer camp it supported only lasted a few years.

The OA was formed in Las Vegas twice, the first being Sinawava Lodge which disbanded.  The OA would then reform permanently as Nebagamon Lodge.

Tribe of Ahawhnee – Camp Ahwahnee – North Orange County Council

Camp Ahwahnee was located in Running Springs, one canyon over from Camp Helendade.

See some of Phil Brigandi’s history here.

Tribe of Gorgonio – Camp Ro-Ki-Li – Orange Empire Council

Tribe of Gorgonio was also a very early pre-OA society and was a predecessor to San Gorgonio Lodge # 298.  OA historian Phil Brigandi has written extensively about the Tribe of Gorgonio and its OA successor, San Gorgonio Lodge.

See some of Phil Brigandi’s history here.

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