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Native Americans have criticized the OA's various symbols and "rituals" as cultural appropriation based on non-Native stereotypes of American Indians.Inducted members, known as Arrowmen or Brothers, are organized into local youth-led lodges that harbor fellowship, promote camping, and render service to Boy Scout councils and their communities.Edson and Goodman said they "based the OA's lore and ceremonies on the lore of the Lenni Lenape Indians who had occupied Treasure Island in earlier times" The Scouts considered this move a success, and went on to repeat this pattern the following summer at Treasure Island.
Those elected were acknowledged as having displayed, in the eyes of their fellow Scouts, a spirit of unselfish service and brotherhood.
The four stated purposes of the Order of the Arrow are: "(1) Recognize those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives and through that recognition cause others to conduct themselves in a way that warrants similar recognition; (2) Promote camping, responsible outdoor adventure, and environmental stewardship as essential components of every Scout’s experience, in the unit, year-round, and in summer camp; (3) Develop leaders with the willingness, character, spirit and ability to advance the activities of their units, our Brotherhood, Scouting, and ultimately our nation; and (4) Crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others. The five national forests are: Mark Twain National Forest, Manti-La Sal National Forest, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Described as "one of the largest conservation efforts in Scouting's history" by the Boy Scouts of America, approximately 3,500 Arrowmen converged on five national forests to work on various conservation projects such as building new trails and helping preserve nearly extinct species, as well as removing invasive species, in cooperation with the U. Unit elections of the OA are allowed in Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scout units.
In 1931, there were OA lodges in 7 percent of BSA councils nationwide.
By 1948, about two-thirds of the BSA's councils had established OA lodges."The Order of the Arrow is a 'thing of the spirit' rather than of mechanics.
Honorary membership was once bestowed in special circumstances, as with Franklin D. Eisenhower, but this practice was officially discontinued in 1953.