A Short History of Papago Lodge

In the early years of the Boy Scouts of America Summer Camp Honor Societies were popping up all over the country. By the 1920s there were nearly 100 of these honor societies. The Tribe of Papago was one such Honor Camper Society started at Camp Lawton in 1923. The society was created, and all the ceremonies written, by the Camp Director and Scout Executive Harry Ogle. The Tribe of Papago required advancement in Scout rank, leadership, and service hours at the camp and progressed through four increasingly difficult levels. The levels were: Hunter, Warrior, Medicine Man and Chief, and for adults who were not Chief, Elder and Squaw for men and women respectively. This society has continued to present time, although it began to diminish in the late 1960s when a Sioux System was used for a few years.

In 1948 Norman R. Horwitz, a 1938 Vigil member from Owasippi Lodge #7 in Chicago, moved to Tucson. In 1952, he asked the Scout Executive, Merle Kruiish, to form a committee to consider the formation of an Order of the Arrow Lodge. Horwitz chaired the committee, Kruiish served as Adviser, and Otis Chidester, Clinton Helbig, LeBaron Jones and Edward Ronstadt rounded out the committee. The committee’s appeal for an Order of the Arrow Lodge were accepted and a National Charter was granted on May 29, 1953 to Papago Lodge 494. As the first Papago Lodge Chief, Horwitz conducted the 1953 ceremonies single-handedly. The Lodge’s first Ordeal Ceremony produced eighty-four new Arrowmen. Elections followed, and David Zinder was selected the first youth Lodge Chief. The name Papago was chosen in honor of the Native Americans of the Papago Nation. The name Papago was given to the Nation by the Spanish and was changed to Tohono O’odham in 1986. The Tohono O’odham Nation asked that the Lodge not change its name, so Papago remains. The first totem of the Papago Lodge was an “Arrowhead inscribed with a Flying Bird.” This totem was never used on patches or other items during the first years of the Lodge. In May 1957, the Papago Lodge totem was changed to a steer skull entwined with a rattlesnake forming a “20”. It is thought that 1957 was the twentieth anniversary of Horwitz’s elevation to Vigil Honor. It was this totem that was used on the first Lodge pocket flap patch. In 1961 the totem was changed to the Hohokam conception of the Gambel’s quail. In 1964 the Victorio Lodge of the Cochise Council merged into the Papago Lodge, enhancing the history and traditions of both Lodges. Technically, since Lodges all count their age from their oldest component, 2010 was the 70th anniversary of this combined Lodge. The Victorio Lodge was founded in 1940 and was named after Bidu-ya, a warrior and chief of the Chihenne band of the Chiricahua Apaches who was known as Victorio to the Mexicans. The Victorio Lodge totem was the wild turkey. When the two Lodges merged they voted to retain the Gambel’s quail totem. In the ensuing years, several votes have been made to change the totem, but none have passed. The totem is known, affectionately, as “Papago Pete”.

In 2018, the Lodge elected to incorporate another totem to accompany Pete. This new totem is the bark scorpion. It may currently be seen on the new standard issue flap.
In 1986, the Lodge officially changed its Indian affiliation from Hopi to Hohokam, which was a tribe that split off from the pre-Aztec Toltec Civilization. Papago Ceremonialists were seen in Toltec style regalia decorated with brightly colored plumage and golden jewelry. In more recent years, the Lodge adopted a plains style regalia.

The proud accomplishments of the Papago Lodge span the whole history of the Lodge. From 1957 to 1961, the first 5 Area Conferences (Section Conclaves) were presided over by Papago members. In 1958 and again in 1966 the Papago Lodge had dance teams that were among the most outstanding in the nation. In 1965 Papago Lodge members helped in the formation of Salado Lodge #551. From 1968 to 1974 Carroll A. Edson, co-founder of the Order of the Arrow in 1915, was a member of Papago Lodge. In 1984, George Fell, retired Chairman of the National OA Committee, was a Papago Lodge member. Jack Stephens, a 1985 Papago Lodge Vice-Chief, moved to Chee Dodge Lodge #503, and in 1989 he was elected the National Chief while attending the University of Arizona in Tucson. In 1988 the Papago Lodge had one of the most outstanding Ceremony Teams in the Nation. Over the years the Papago Lodge has earned the right to honor over 200 Vigil members. Papago Lodge’s patches have been among some of the most sought-after patches for many years. The Lodge was the first to create two-part flaps and was among the first to use photochromic thread which changes color in sunlight. The popularity also has disadvantages; Papago patches are frequently faked. In the 1980s a “Papago Pete” costume was made for the Lodge by Arrowman Jeff Babis. Papago Lodge was among the first to have a totem costume as well. The original costume was retired in 2013, the Lodge’s 60th Anniversary, when a new costume was purchased. The original is on loan to the Otis Chidester Museum in Tucson. In addition, the Papago Lodge has provided individual recognition for about 5,000 honor campers of the Boy Scouts of America. These honor campers, in turn, have promoted camping, provided service, and exemplified the ideals of Scouting for hundreds of thousands of southern Arizona youth and adults.