By Martha Bowles
May 30 through June 1, Tribesmen of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say celebrated their heritage at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation Tribal Celebration. Tribesmen came together from nearby cities and some from distances over 1300 miles. During the celebration new youth Tribesmen from last summer were recognized, those who have passed were honored, history was shared, and all in attendance enjoyed activities that reinforced teamwork and friendship.
The evening festivities on Friday and Saturday filled the ceremonial council ring with cheers and laughter. Tribesmen that had provided outstanding service were elevated in the Tribe. One such Tribesman was Lee's Summit resident James Freeman III, Thunderbird District Committee Chairman, who was elevated to Keeper of the Wampum Seeks the High Trail. James began Scouts as a Cub Scout in 1969 when his mother signed him up and became a den mother. With his mother's and father's support, he had many opportunities in Scouts to develop outstanding leadership abilities, learn about citizenship, and have fun. James Freeman is a first generation Scout and Tribesman that has passed on his heritage to his wife Suzanne, Honored Woman Walks Beside High Trail, and his 2 Eagle Scout sons, a Warrior and a Shaman in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say.
Each evening ended with a performance by the Mic-O-Say Dancers. The dancers are made up of Scouts that give many additional hours of their time throughout the year to develop, practice, and perform their interpretation of traditional Native American dances. In addition to performing at the Tribal Celebration, they perform at each camp session during the summer, and during the fall, winter and spring for local Cub Scout Packs and other organizations. Their dances are often accompanied by traditional Native American music. This year their Tribal Celebration performance debuted music with a more modern version of Native American music by A Tribe Called Red.
Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America experience many adventures and develop strong skills and core values that help them become our future leaders. Each year many of our local Scouts spend 10 days camping at H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation where they continue to strengthen their Scouting skills. Camp is also a place to nurture old friendships, to form new friendships, and to create great memories. Scouts and adults eagerly return to Bartle year after year and many choose to sign up to be staff for the entire summer. Included in those returning Scouts are those that have already reached the rank of Eagle Scout and those that are now 18 years or older. Some even choose to return to the reservation after moving out of the area.
There are many reasons for such a high number of Scouts and adults returning to the reservation, but a large part is the presence of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. Mic-O-Say is a leadership program at the H. Roe Bartle reservation. The origin of Bartle's Mic-O-Say program began in 1924 in Wyoming where H. Roe Bartle worked with Native Americans to create a "Tribe" at the camp in the area. When Bartle moved to St Joseph and the Pony Express Council in 1925, he introduced the Tribe of Mic-O-Say there where it still continues at Camp Geiger. Later in 1928, he moved to the Kansas City Area Council, now the Heart of America Council, and began efforts to bring Mic-O-Say to the area Scouts at Camp Dan Sayre near Noel, Missouri. In 1930, thanks to generous contributions by Bartle and several others, 468 acres were purchased near Osceola, Missouri and the Tribe of Mic-O-Say was moved to the new Camp Osceola, now known as the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation. The reservation currently includes more than 4000 acres and is divided into 3 camps; Lone Star, Sawmill, and Piercing Arrow.
The Tribe of Mic-O-Say provides Scouts and Scouters with unique opportunities for continued involvement in Scouting, self discovery, and growth of leadership abilities. This program is presented through special attire, choosing tribal names, customs, and traditions inspired by our country's Native American culture. Becoming a Tribesman in Mic-O-Say is something that young Scouts look forward to. They look up to those that have walked the trails before them and follow in their footsteps. Some have a long legacy of Scouting and Mic-O-Say in their family, while others are the first in their family to walk the trails of Bartle. All, however, have one thing in common. A great connection with the deep heritage that is Mic-O-Say; a heritage that brings people together in friendship and warmth, a heritage that reinforces family and helping those in need, a heritage rich in history of young men becoming leaders and positive role models to others, and a heritage that inspires young men to continue their involvement in Scouting after reaching adulthood.
Tribesman active in Mic-O-Say have a major impact on those around them. One example is Eagle Scout Travis Houston, Shaman Least Little Swift Falling Water. He attends the UMKC Conservatory of Music but still finds time to be there for others. He has been a strong role model to many in Scouting and enjoys mentoring younger Scouts within his Troop and the tribe. He has also inspired many Scouts to join the Mic-O-Say Dancers through his involvement with that group. Travis lives in Lee's Summit but calls Bartle home each summer. He has been on staff multiple years and will be staffing the BMX Bike outpost this year. Travis is a third generation Tribesman. He has followed in the footsteps of his father, mother, and two grandfathers, all members of Mic-O-Say. His father, Eagle Scout Lynn Houston, Sachem Little Swift Falling Water, has been in the tribe since 1978 and has helped many Scouts down the trail to Eagle. His mother, Maria Houston, Honored Woman Daughter of Yellow Sunset, became a Tribesman in 2008; his maternal grandfather, Eagle Scout Ed Cole, Warrior Yellow Sunset, became a Tribesman in the 1950s; and his paternal grandfather, Richard Houston, Warrior Swift Falling Water, became a Tribesman in 1976. Along with the thousands of other Mic-O-Say Tribesman, Travis and his family have added to the heritage of the tribe.
During the Saturday ceremony, William C. (Bill) Esry, Keeper of the Wampum Little Brother Speeding Spear, was named the 85th Presiding Chieftain of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. Bill has a long Scouting heritage of his own. He was in both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts when he was young and is an Eagle Scout. He became a Mic-O-Say Tribesman as a Scout in 1973. He has been actively involved in the Blue Elk District and has received the Silver Beaver Award from the Heart of America Council. He had the honor of being the Heart of America Council President during the Boy Scouts of America centennial from 2009 to 2010. He has also volunteered his time as a Commissioner at Bartle for the last 10 years. Bill has the support of his wife and 2 daughters. With 2 daughters, he is proof that a Scouter can continue his involvement in helping our youth without having a son in Scouting. Among his family members with roots in Scouting and the tribe are his late Uncle Bill Esry, Sachem Speeding Spear; his father Carroll Esry, Honorary Warrior Brother Speeding Spear; his brother in law Eric Knipp, Soaring Speeding Spear, partner in Lee's Summit based Leone-Knipp Insurance; nephew Jack, Firebuilder Shadow of Soaring Speeding Spear; and his brother David Esry, Sachem Least Brother Speeding Spear. David lives in Lee's Summit is also very active in Scouting with his Eagle Scout son Michael, Runner Silver Speeding Spear. In the true spirit of Scouting, Bill has not kept his Scouting heritage within his direct family. Bill has reached out and sponsors 2 young men on their Scouting path. Eagle Scout Jesse Barker, Runner Swift Ramming Spear, and Life Scout Nathan Barker, Warrior Silent Speeding Spear, are part of his heritage and the heritage of all Scouting and the entire Tribe of Mic-O-Say.
When asked to share his thoughts about Scouting and the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, Bill Esry stated, "Mic-O-Say keeps Scouts around longer. The longer they are part of the program the more of its benefits they can soak up. It also encourages retention of passionate volunteers." In addition to being a leadership program, the Tribe of Mic-O-Say is an extended family. When Bill addressed those in attendance at the Tribal Celebration, he stressed, "Whether you are a multi-generational Scouting family, or the first one starting a line, there is no doubt, this is a family bound by a common cause. It is a place of family, whether by blood related or not. It is what keeps us coming back. It is the experiences, the memories, the best character building, and leadership development program that exists!"