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Troop Leader Helps Build Badge To Teach Scouts Native American Cultures

A Claremore Boy Scout troop leader is making sure Cherokee Nation culture is passed down to a new generation. 

Scout leader Terry Hancock noticed there wasn't any scouting curriculum that taught Native American culture. So, he came up with a solution.

"About six or seven years ago, I was looking through the Boy Scout national catalog for merit badges, patches, and awards,” Hancock said. “And I noticed they had a knot for Asian studies. I kept looking through it and I didn't see one for Native American, or more important, Cherokee.”

Hancock is part Cherokee himself, so he reached out to his tribe to see if leaders would help him build a badge to teach Cherokee scouts about their heritage.

"The important thing is that it's designed to help educate scouts on language, culture, history and background,” Hancock said.

Hancock and the then former chief, Bill Baker, came up with the badge, designed after the Cherokee service ribbon. There is a knot in the middle to symbolize unit and friendship. 

The badge can be completed in three steps. Scouts first must learn parts of the Cherokee language and how to pronounce words. Scouts then will learn the tribe's culture and history. Lastly, they must complete a botany course where scouts can grow plants and veggies Cherokees commonly use.

"Terry brought a problem and the solution both of the table," Cherokee tribal counselor Keith Austin said.

Austin, who helped with the idea, said scouts will be able to go to museums like the J.M. Davis Historical Museum in Claremore where Cherokee Nation history is on display.

"The badge is to make sure the scouts here locally in the Cherokee Nation are actually taught that Native Americans are not a generic people, that they are very many, many cultures,” Austin said. “I think that’s a beautiful thing that’s coming out of this.”

"It’s not like TV Indians. It’s a Cherokee Nation, and we are teaching them what the truth is and how things should be learned," Hancock said. 

The badge will be available exclusively to scouts with Cherokee tribal membership. The badge is expected to be available on the Cherokee Nation website this fall.

Story Credit: Channel 6 News

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