Bob Buckley for The Examiner: Reflect Deeply on History and Our Treatment of Others

August 17, 2020

Bob Buckley, partner at White, Graham, Buckley & Carr, is a regular columnist for The Examiner of East Jackson County. In his latest column, Buckley discusses the recent calls for disbanding the local Boy Scout Tribe of Mic-O-Say. While many believe the Boy Scout traditions of the fictional Tribe of Mic-O-Say are offensive to Native American heritage, Buckley weighs his own experience as a Tribe of Mic-O-Say inductee and his Cherokee Indian heritage.

The article, Reflect Deeply on History and Our Treatment of Others, was published in the August 15 edition of The Examiner. An excerpt from the article is below.

The Black Lives Matter protests have led to a renewed focus on the plight of Native Americans. The Washington Redskins have been forced by popular opinion to abandon their name. Attention is also being directed to our Kansas City Chiefs, which in turn has led to a call for disbanding the Boy Scout Tribe of Mic-O-Say. Many American Indians believe the Boy Scout traditions of the fictional Tribe of Mic-O-Say are offensive to their heritage and want the Boy Scouts to abandon and disband it.

Thus, the debate concerning Mic-O-Say has begun. As a matter of full disclosure, I have Cherokee Indian heritage. For those of you who knew my mother as a young woman (admittedly a very small club now, as she would be 96) you would clearly see our Indian heritage. I believe her grandmother was a Cherokee Indian. I also was inducted into the Tribe of Mic-O-Say as a young teenager in the 1960s. I come to this issue from both perspectives.

There are two aspects of American history that can only be viewed as tragic, immoral and embarrassing – slavery and the horrible mistreatment of American Indians. As a history major in college with an emphasis on American history, I did have a course in Black history. I don’t recall that we spent much time on the 100 years of desegregation and Jim Crow laws following emancipation.

However, there was no course in the history curriculum at UMKC on the plight of the American Indian. I had heard of the Trail of Tears, but until I visited Andrew Jackson’s plantation in Nashville a few years ago, I had no idea how despicable some of his policies and actions were toward the Indian nations during his tenure. I do think this should be a part of the curriculum of every high school social studies class.

I am a little surprised by the uproar over the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. I have never thought it was demeaning or prejudicial. Roe Bartle, former mayor of Kansas City and after whom the Boy Scout Camp is named, founded the tribe. He was the first chief, and it is well known that his status in Mic-O-Say was a factor in naming the football team Lamar Hunt brought to town.

My induction into the tribe was one of the defining times in my life. It was a two-step process. The first step is to become a “brave,” and the initiation process was very challenging for a young teenager. When I became a brave, I was not at camp with my normal troop because our family had been on a lengthy vacation. Typically, you pick a “blood brother” who is a member of your own troop and you go through the process together. I was assigned a brother, and I could not tell you his name today.