Dixie Fellowship History (20 Years Ago!)

Dixie Fellowship History

The following was the original information that I shared on my first website Santeeswapper.com in a section titled Dixie Fellowship. This was my attempt to kinda summarize some history and outline the memorabilia for the event. The last edit on this information was February 8, 2002 so yes 20 years later it's a bit dated. But it's still a good read with some good history in there!

The Dixie Fellowship through the years has become the most collectable Order of the Arrow conclave in the country. Not that California, Texas, Florida and other areas of the country don’t value their conclave patches. However, the Dixie Fellowship has survived the numerous realignments that have cut and splintered conclaves across the country.

The name Dixie Fellowship is what has kept the traditions tied together. The term was first used in when Unali’yi hosted the 1952 Area 6B Meeting in Charleston, SC. J. Rucker Newberry, who was the Scout Executive in Charleston, is credited with coining the name. Ironically, realignment the very next year moved Newberry and Unali’yi out of Area 6B and into Area 6C which was made up of mostly lodges from Georgia. The name Dixie Fellowship stayed with the 6B fellowship instead of moving south. The name Dixie Fellowship has been used every year since except for 1969 when no area meetings were held.

Despite the revolving door of realignments over the years four lodges have been in the Dixie since the beginning: Santee #116, Tsali #134, Atta Kulla Kulla #185 and Skyuka #270. Geographically, these four lodges stretch from the mountains to the sea tracing the border between North Carolina and South Carolina. These core lodges have hosted the Dixie a total of 22 times which has helped to keep the traditions of the Dixie Fellowship solid.

Another part of the continuity of the Dixie is that none of the lodges that have been apart of the Dixie Fellowship have ever been merged or absorbed. Although some parts of the country have seen councils melt together to form larger “super” councils the state of SC and adjoining areas in lower North Carolina and northern Georgia have remained unchanged over the years.

Dixie Patches

The patches from the Dixie Fellowship are the most prized and valuable of all Section Conclaves. For the first decade the only memorabilia available at the Dixie was the patch. In the early days a participant was given a patch with registration and was sometimes allowed to buy an extra one. Another factor in making the patches rare was that attendance at Dixie was very low compared to today’s standards. The average lodge was allowed to bring maybe three dozen brothers to many of the Dixies in the 50s and 60s. With total attendance around 400 it is no wonder many of these early Dixie patches are hard to come by.

By the 1970s attendance was on the rise and the restrictions on the patches were loosening up. In the 1990s it was not uncommon for attendance to be near one thousand. In the early 1970s the host lodge began allowing delegates to preorder memorabilia items as they would like. Some traders starting ordering dozens of extra patches to trade or put away for a rainy day. For this reason many of the recent Dixie patches are very common and only the restricted staff items have appreciated in value.

The move to preorder items taught Arrowmen a painful lesson at the 1973 Dixie hosted by Atta Kulla Kulla. AKK ordered the exact amount of memorabilia that was preordered. Since many people were used to walking up to the trading post to get their neckerchief and mug a lot of people were not able to get one at the event. For example the entire delegation from Santee got a total of two neckerchiefs. The next year Santee overcompensated and had cases of mugs left over from ordering too much.

It was not always easy to strike a balance between ordering what people had preordered and what was needed for walk up sales. For example after hosting the 1994 Dixie Bobwhite Lodge had extra Dixie patches in their lodge box for several years due to overordering. The same was true of hat pins in the early 1990s when the pin manufacturers needed months to produce and ship out the pins and preorders weren’t turned in early enough. The host lodge had to guess as to how many to order sometimes resulting in lots of extras after the event.

Staff Items

Officially, the host lodge puts on the event but it is the Council of Chiefs (C.O.C.) who actually has control over the Dixie Fellowship. The same is true of the memorabilia issued for the Dixie. However, there have been several cases of a lodge overstepping their authority and issuing an item that was never approved the C.O.C. Hosting a Dixie Fellowship is an enormous undertaking. However, it was not until 1965 when Santee hosted that a lodge issued memorabilia for the staff. The lodge issued a unique neckerchief just for Santee staff members. The idea didn’t catch on because it wasn’t until Santee hosted again in 1974 that another staff neckerchief was issued. Embroidered staff neckerchiefs from the Chief Neckerchief Company were issued in 1974, 1976, and 1979. In 1975 some members of Skyuka had their mothers hand stitch “STAFF” onto their regular issue neckerchiefs. All of these neckerchiefs were done by the host lodge for its staff and were not approved ahead of time by the C.O.C.

Officially, the host lodge puts on the event but it is the C.O.C. made up of the Section officers and the Key-3 from each lodge which Eswau Huppeday issued the first staff patch in 1978. Like other new memorabilia it was slow to catch on but when Tsali issued a gray border staff patch in 1981 the idea was here to stay. The only year that a staff patch has not been issued since 1981 was when Bobwhite hosted in 1986.

The early staff patches were heavily restricted. The 1981 Tsali and 1984 Skyuka issues are very tough to find. Other years the host lodge would allow staff members to buy as many as they wanted. Who was actually considered staff has also changed. In the early 80s only host lodge brothers were allowed to purchase staff items while later all members of the Council of Chiefs (key three from each lodge + section officers and advisers) were allowed to purchase staff items.

The worst examples of this from the 1980s are the 1983 Santee Awards patch and 1984 Skyuka Key-3 patch. The Santee patch was ordered by the adult leadership of the lodge without knowledge of even the Dixie Vice-Chief. The Awards patch was glued to the plaques given out on Sunday morning. The Key-3 was also issued by the host lodge by surprise but was given to members of the Key-3 (lodge chief + adviser + staff adviser) from each lodge. Perhaps this calmed the waters since the host lodge didn’t let them get a staff patch.

The uproar that followed the 1983 and 1984 Dixies led to better policing of host lodge. At the 1985 Dixie Muscogee got all of the memorabilia issued approved ahead of time by the C.O.C. When Tsaili hosted in 1988 and Unali’yi in 1989 they both got an awards patch approved at the planning meeting. The awards patches were unique border variations of the regular patch and glued to plaques given out on Sunday morning.

In the 1990s this mischief faded away until Egwa Tawa Dee hosted in 1996 down in Atlanta. Following an indecisive discussion with no vote taken by members of the C.O.C., Egwa issued miniature flaps for all eleven lodges in the section and sold them at the Dixie. The plan was to use the flaps in a sort of NOAC delegate patch pushed by Egwa. This year also saw the first private issue for the Dixie with the “Ice Cream Cone” patch issued for the Trading Post Staff. However, the section adviser did put out a private issue “SR-5 First Forking” flap after the 1994 Dixie in Georgia.

Traditional Memorabilia

Dixie neckerchiefs and mugs debuted at Santee’s 1965 Dixie. The coffee mug has been issued every year since with 1979s error issue “SB-3B” and tall staff mug being the only variations. The neckerchiefs have been issued every year except 1966. In the early years the neckerchiefs were silk screened but in 1972 the Chief Neckerchief Company began a long run of making embroidered neckerchiefs. Only twice in the last three decades has the host lodge put out a silk screened neckerchief; Muscogee in 1980 and Bobwhite in 1994.

For over thirty years the traditional Dixie memorabilia was simple; patch, mug, neckerchief. Skyuka introduced a fourth piece in 1984 when they issued a hat pin. Hat pins became wildly popular right about this time. At the 1985 Jamboree hat pins exploded on the scene and they were trading like hot cakes. The 1989 Jamboree was probably the peak of the fad and since then hat pins as collectable memorabilia has faded out. However, every year since 1984 a hat pin has been issued for the Dixie.

Tomo Chi Chi was the first lodge to issue a participation pin for the Dixie. The blue heron shaped pin in 1987 read simply “I participated”. The pins were hit and miss like other new ideas for memorabilia until 1994 when they were here to stay. Usually the pin design is taken from some piece of the patch design. When it is worn on the patch it simply covers up that part of the patch design and most do not indicate the year or even that they are a Dixie pin at all. Since it is very hard to keep up with the paperwork and so many people are doing so many different things at Dixie, the host lodge usually prints up enough participation pins for every delegate at Dixie. However, since no one can preorder extras they are usually harder to find later than the regular hat pin.

Just like the 1980s saw the hatpin and staff patch become a part of the Dixie tradition the late 1990s and new millennium have seen jacket patches and chenilles become a regular addition to the memorabilia offered. Egwa Tawa Dee put out the first true Dixie jacket patch in 1996 by simply taking the regular patch design and blowing it up larger. Unali’yi didn’t follow up in 1997 but every year since then has seen a similarly designed jacket patch. Unali’yi opened the door to the chenille becoming a part of the Dixie tradition in 1997. Although it was criticized (and still is) for being too expensive the host lodges have issued a chenille patch every year since.

Since the mid 1990s there has been an explosion in the amount of official items issued from the Dixie. One part of this boom has been an official Dixie t-shirt and more recently an embroidered hat. Bobwhite issued a t-shirt in 1994 and most host lodges have followed since then. Atta Kulla Kulla issued a really nice embroidered staff hat in 1999. Maybe because of this Itibap issued an embroidered Dixie hat in 2001 and Unali’yi is following up with one in 2002.

The modern Dixie is full of memorabilia that was first tried at some point and then stuck and has become a sort of tradition. However, there have been several times that a host lodge put out a unique piece of memorabilia that was sort of a one hit wonder. The classic example is the 1967 Dixie neckerchief slide made of a vinyl material with the Dixie patch silk screened on. Thirty years went by before Eswau put out a Dixie neckerchief slide in 1998. The 1998 Dixie at Camp Barnhardt also saw a Vigil Medal and bolo tie (the first bolo tie was in 1997), which have not been issued since.

Section Issues

At the 1990 Dixie Atta Kulla Kulla issued a very basic looking octagon shaped “Section SE-5” jacket patch. This was one of the few times that an item was issued at Dixie as more of a section item than a commemorative Dixie item. The only other time was in 1996 when the section issued a hard to find “NOAC delegate” patch. In 1996 Egwa also issued a Section jacket patch with the totems of the lodges circling the border. After the section realigned Tsali issued a similar Section jacket patch in 2000.

Section Indian Seminar

The Indian Seminars of Section SE-5 and later SR-5 are an interesting collection for any Dixie enthusiast. Although Section Indian Seminars were held prior to 1982 this was the first year that any memorabilia was issued. The Indian Seminar was never very successful for a number of reasons. The number one reason was because the event was held in the winter. Add this to the fact that most Scout camps don’t have a lot of all-weather facilities to hold training events in many people were turned off by the cold weather. Just ask anyone who endured the wet and cold Section Seminar hosted by Mowogo in 1996 at Camp Rainey Mountain (no pun intended!).

The other failing of the seminar was that it was usually poorly publicized. Evidence of this is that the seminars in 1984 and 1993 were canceled due to lack of preregistration. The patches for these two events were ordered ahead of time and are in circulation although the event was canceled. In 1990 to avoid that problem Tsali didn’t order the patches until after the event and mailed lodges enough patches for those members attending the event with some people paying for extras as the event.

It is easy to see why some of the Section Seminar patches are much rarer than the Dixie patch issued for the same year. When you consider that attendance at the 1990s Dixies were usually 800+ and the seminars packed in maybe 150 at best. Although preordering memorabilia was the norm at the Dixie for the seminar this only happened in 1996.

The Section Seminar in 1996 was off the Richter scale in terms of memorabilia issued. What would Mowogo have put out if they ever got the chance to host a Dixie? The list of preorder items ran over $100 and included patch, jacket patch, t-shirt, sweatshirt, hat, mug, along with staff items and a special Key-3 dinner mug and throw in three different hats. Not to mention the fact that the patch order was botched and two of the lodges had the wrong number put on the patch, which resulted in a corrected issue reorder on the patch and jacket patch (made available to only Mowogo people).

After the failed 1993 Indian Seminar the Council of Chiefs decided to broaden the scope of the seminars and add administrative training to the normal order of sessions. So at the 1994 event the named was changed to just simply Section Seminar. Even with the new emphasis the events did not attract big crowds. The 1997 was the final SR-5 Section Seminar. The decision was made to drop the Section Seminar rather than compete with the very successful Carolinas Indian Seminar held in January by newly welcomed back member Eswau Huppeday.

Although the need for a Section Indian Seminar had faded the Council of Chiefs still saw a need for Arrowmen training that takes place during the discussion groups at Dixie and at NOAC. A new training event called Arrowtech debuted in 1999. Arrowtech was a fresh idea which tried to provide the needed training for youth and adults while solving one of the main problems of holding the event in the winter. The C.O.C. held the event at the University of South Carolina, which is a central location for the section. In addition, Arrowmen stayed in university dorm rooms and attended classes in academic buildings on the campus. Although the program was not scheduled for 2001 due to the National Leadership Seminar (NLS) it should return in 2002. Strangely enough though the youth in charge of the event have been adamantly opposed to making any memorabilia for the event.