Boy Scout troop leader helps build badge to teach Boy Scouts about Native American cultures

A Claremore Boy Scout troop leader ensures that the culture of the Cherokee Nation is passed on to a new generation.

Boy Scout Leader Terry Hancock noticed that there was no Scouting program that taught Native American culture. So he found a solution.

“About six or seven years ago I was looking through the National Boy Scout Catalog for badges, badges and merit awards,” Hancock said. “And I noticed that they had a knot for Asian studies. I kept going through it and I did. I don’t see any for Native Americans, or more importantly, Cherokees.

Hancock is partly Cherokee himself, so he contacted his tribe to see if the rulers would help him create a badge to teach the Cherokee scouts about their heritage.

“The important thing is that it is designed to help educate Boy Scouts about the language, culture, history and background,” Hancock said.

Hancock and then-former chef Bill Baker came up with the badge, which was designed after the Cherokee service ribbon. There is a knot in the middle to symbolize unity and friendship.

The badge can be completed in three steps. Scouts must first learn parts of the Cherokee language and know how to pronounce words. The Scouts will then learn about the culture and history of the tribe. Finally, they must take a botany class where scouts can grow plants and vegetables that the Cherokees commonly use.

“Terry brought both a problem and the solution to the table,” said Keith Austin, Cherokee Tribal Councilor.

Austin, who contributed to the idea, said Boy Scouts will be able to visit museums like the JM Davis Historical Museum in Claremore, where the history of the Cherokee Nation is on display.

“The badge is to ensure that the scouts here locally in the Cherokee Nation learn that Native Americans are not a generic people, that they are very many, many cultures,” Austin said. “I think it’s a beautiful thing that comes out of that.”

“It’s not like the Indians on TV. It’s a Cherokee nation, and we teach them what truth is and how things are to be learned,” Hancock said.

The badge will be available exclusively to Scouts who are members of the Cherokee Tribe. The badge is expected to be available on the Cherokee Nation website this fall.

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