Improved Order of Red Men

Chiefs’ Degree


When a Warrior has applied for exaltation to the Chiefs’ Degree, the officiating Chief will say: Brothers of the Totemic Bond, we are about to exalt a true and well-tried Warrior, and teach him the higher duties and greater knowledge in the Chiefs’ Council. I trust that during the rendition of the ceremonies all will preserve decorum and silence.
The officiating Chief calls up with the usual raps those who are to take part, and they leave the council chamber as in the Degree of Adoption and assume their costumes. The property Chief will make ready the council chamber for the floor work. The Chiefs then assume their stations.
The Sachem will direct the First Sannap to retire to the forest, where, finding the candidate for exaltation, he will present him with the Red Tomahawk. All the lights in the council chamber must be extinguished except the council brand. After a few breaths the Sachem will say: Guard of the Wigwam, let the warning be given.
The Guard will give one loud rap. The Sannap will reply by giving one rap.
Sachem: Guard of the Wigwam, who alarms our council?
Guard of the Wigwam: The Sannap and a runner from the Warriors’ Council bearing a message to the Chiefs.
Sachem: Let them be admitted.
As soon as they have entered the council chamber, the two Mystery Men will advance and receive the Warrior, and the Sannap will resume his station. The Mystery Men will then conduct the brother three times around the council chamber, and halt, facing the Prophet’s tepee, with the council brand in front of them. The First Mystery Man will then quench the council brand, and all will remain in silent darkness.
The Second Mystery Man will remove the outer covering from the entrance to the Prophet’s tent, which will then be screened only by the transparency of a human skeleton. The Mystery Men will then take stations one on each side of the Prophet’s tepee, a member concealed in the tepee will then light the council brand behind the skeleton. The Prophet appears and exclaims: The Great Spirit is offended at his red children, and has withdrawn the visible symbol of his pleasure. The spirit of darkness has gone abroad and spread its sable mantle over the once smiling bosom of creation. The azure heaven above, the green earth beneath, the pleasing foliage of the forest, the shining bosoms of the lakes, the rippling waters of the swift-running rivers, and the variegated hues of the angry waves of the great oceans which surround our land—all have merged into darkness and disappeared. The beasts of prey have gone forth; the stealthy panther utters his piteous but deceptive cries; the ravenous wolf breaks the dismal gloom with his bark; all is darkness and desolation. Let us invoke the Great Spirit for mercy, for life, for light.
Prophet: O, Thou Great Spirit, bless every heart sincere
In freedom’s cause. Bless our fraternal band.
In friendship may it stand. Extend it through the land,
By Thy almighty power.
O, let Thy sacred fire descend. Inspire
Our brother’s heart with truth, sincerity,
Benevolence and charity—the sacred mystery
Of every Red Man’s love.
Him, in mercy, move to succor the distressed,
And from the orphan’s eye the tear remove,
The widow’s heart to soothe, and calm affliction’s sigh.
In our fraternal band thus may he ever stand
A chief both firm and true.
The emblem of mortality will then be removed by the brother inside of the tepee, and the Mystery Men will take the brand from the tepee and light the brands on the stations of the Sachem, Senior and Junior Sagamores, after which they will return to the Prophet’s tepee, taking position on each side. The First Sannap will then take charge of the candidate.
Prophet: Sannap, conduct the Warrior to the Senior Sagamore, who has words of wisdom to impart.
Sannap: Senior Sagamore, from the Warriors’ Council this brother comes, and brings the Red Tomahawk, the emblem he promised to deliver to the Chiefs in council.
The Senior Sagamore receives the Tomahawk, and conceals it, as if burying it, and will say: Henceforth be this weapon
Deep in the earth’s cold bosom buried.
Its thirsty edge no more shall taste
The life-inspiring current; nor in dread conflict
Cleave the proud citadel where reason
Sits enthroned. But from this time
Shall our Warrior’s mission be one of peace
And good will to all upon the earth;
And, to prove my words are true,
And will not to me return,
I present this Wampum Belt,
The Red Man’s bond, that he will faithful prove
To what his tongue may utter.
Mark my words.
Hands the Wampum Belt to the candidate.
Sannap, return with the Warrior, that he may be accepted in the Covenant of Faith.
The Sannap conducts the candidate to the Prophet, who stanch at the place of the council brand, beside an arrangement in which to fix the brands.
Sannap: Prophet, the tomahawk has been buried, and the brother returns with the sacred Wampum Belt.
The belt is handed to the Prophet.
Prophet: My son, hearken to the voice of the Prophet. We accept from you the Wampum Belt as a symbol of your intent to honorably fulfil the duties of our Covenant of Faith, which shall never be broken; that we may henceforth be as One, and have but one Council Fire and one Voice. Let our words go quickly forth and assemble our Chiefs together that they may take part in this solemn ceremony.
Sachem advances, bearing brand.
Sachem: I come, symbolizing Freedom, in honor of that proud race, fast fading away, who in the days of their affluence were as brave as they were generous, and as truthful as they were brave. Freedom, the hope and aim of the oppressed of every land and clime, now the proud boast of every American. We dedicate our lives to its maintenance.
Sachem places brand. Senior advances, bearing brand.
Senior Sagamore: I come, symbolizing Friendship, the binding link in our Covenant, and the brightest gem in the jeweled diadem of our Totem. Be friendly, for in misfortune’s dreary hour, “a kindly word in friendship spoken, may soothe and calm a heart that’s broken.”
Senior Sagamore places brand. Junior advances, bearing brand.
Junior Sagamore: I come, symbolizing Charity, not that alone which gives with an open hand and willing heart in time of need, but Charity which is indulgent, kind and constant, expressed by the smiles of those who meet around the council brand. Charity for the weak and erring, to measure men not by their wealth, but by their moral worth.
“Rugged strength and radiant beauty, These are one in Nature’s plan;
Humble toil and heavenward duty, These will form a perfect man.”
Junior Sagamore places brand.
Prophet: In the name of Freedom, Friendship and Charity, the three cardinal precepts of our Totemic Bond, I welcome you into the Covenant of Faith, and you will place this brand as a symbol of your acceptance therein.
Prophet hands brand to candidate, who places it with the others. The chiefs then take stations around the light so as to be situated at the four cardinal points, the Sachem in the East, Senior Sagamore in the West, Junior Sagamore in the South; the Warriors and Braves seated, forming a circle around them. The Mystery Men in the rear of Prophet. The Prophet then continues: By the blending of these fires, fit emblem of purification, vigor, and life, by which the primitive Red Men symbolized the mysterious union through which they were bound by the strong bonds of amity and love, let us symbolize the inseparable ties of fraternity which shall henceforth bind us.
As this fire is consuming, so let the sordid and grosser passions of our nature be destroyed; as it is warm and invigorating, so let the fire of love burn within to nourish and stimulate us; and as its rays dispel the darkness and gloom from our midst, so may the divine law, emanating from the Great Spirit, illuminate our souls, and shed its hallowed rays upon our path.
The First Mystery Man then arises, advances to the light, lights the calumet and smokes. The Prophet continues: As the smoke from the calumet, ascending to the Great Spirit, blends together, so may our affections blend in this Covenant of Faith, which shall not be broken. You shall keep our secrets, and we will keep yours; you shall administer to our wants, and we will administer to yours. You shall defend our fair fame, and we will defend yours. These are our words. They have gone forth from our mouth and shall not return.
Receives calumet from Mystery Man, takes a whiff through the same, then points the stem upwards.
And now, as a token of your fidelity to us, that you will fulfil to the utmost of your ability, without equivocation or mental reservation, the various requirements of this Degree, its doctrines and teachings, we extend to you the calumet, with which was solemnized the most sacred compacts among the primitive Red Men.
The Prophet hands the calumet to the candidate who draws a whiff through the pipe, and it is then handed to the Prophet, who will roll it in bandages of green, blue and scarlet material, and lay it away.
Prophet: Sannaps, present the brother to our Sachem.
The Chiefs, with the exception of the Sachem and Sannaps, then sit around the council brand, and the Sannaps, by direction of the Prophet, conduct the candidate to the Sachem, in front of the brand, the council chamber being lighted. The First Sannap will say: Sachem, the brother has been accepted into the Covenant of Faith, and awaits your further pleasure.
Sachem: Chief, for such I have now the honor to call you, from an adopted and humble member of the Tribe you have steadily progressed in the mysteries of the Order. First, you advanced upon the Hunter’s trail, then upon the Warrior’s path, and learned the mysteries of the various ceremonies. Now, your ambition prompts you to greater knowledge in the Chiefs’ Council. The tomahawk has been buried, and you were presented with the sacred wampum belt. You have also gained admission into the Totemic Bond, and lastly, have been accepted into the Covenant of Faith, where you have smoked the calumet, and in these fraternal relations have each time bound yourself in stronger bonds of fidelity and truth. We ask no further pledge, but will proceed to clothe and give you the key, by which you may unlock the inmost secrets of our Order.
I now invest you with the sash of a chief, and as often as you wear it, may its brilliant color, emblematic of energy. inspire you with renewed ardor in the cause of Freedom, Friendship and Charity.
I present you with this emblem, the Chief’s Tomahawk. Upon it you will find the device of an Eagle, and upon its breast four characters, T. O. T. E., signifying the ... This device is the mark or sign manual of our Totem, and as such may be worn on the person in the form of an emblem, seal or ring. Any Chief observing these letters may approach you and say,
...; to which you will reply, ...; he, ...; you, ...; he, ... You will then know each other to be worthy of fraternal confidence and trust. This is the only manner in which these letters and words are to be used. Their use and signification must not be imparted to any one but a member in good standing of the Chiefs’ Degree.
When you desire to enter the Chiefs’ Council, you will give the same alarm at the outer wicket as in the. preceding degrees. You will communicate to the Guard the universal password of the term, which is . Having received this, he will permit you to pass the outer wicket. You will then clothe yourself in regalia, which for this Degree is a scarlet sash. You will then advance to the inner wicket and give this alarm . This will call the attention of the Guard of the Wigwam to whom you will announce your name and the name and number of the Tribe to which you are attached. When a member becomes a Past Sachem or attains higher honors, he may also announce his rank. The Guard will report the same to the Senior Sagamore, who, if there be no objection, will direct him to admit you, if correct. The Tribe shall be the judge of the validity of any objection. You will then communicate to the Guard the explanation of the universal password, which is ..., and also the password of this Degree, which is ... Having received this, he will permit you to pass the inner wicket. Having entered the council chamber, you will advance to the place of the council brand, and, facing the Sachem, salute him thus ...
He will recognize your salutation thus ... This will insure you a welcome. You will then be seated.
Should you wish to leave the council chamber before the council fire has been quenched, you will advance to the place of the council brand and salute the Sachem with the same sign as on entering. Being recognized. you are at liberty to retire.
In voting upon all questions before the Tribe, where ballots or twigs are not used, the following sign is given, which is designated “the usual show of a Red Man.” It is made thus ... It is also used as a sign of respect, on arising to speak; in depositing a ballot or twig; when retiring on business of the Tribe or in passing the Sachem.
When retiring on business, the chief arises in his station, gives the sign of respect, and is then permitted to retire. Having attended to the business assigned him, he re-enters the council chamber by giving the alarms and passwords, advances to the council brand, gives the sign of respect and makes his report.
There is also a hailing, or distress sign, to be used only in cases of absolute or positive danger. Should you be threatened by danger or overtaken by misfortune, so as to be unable to extricate yourself, and have a reasonable expectation that there is a Red Man in sight, you may use this sign ... If seen by a brother he will answer you by repeating the same sign with the additional movement of .., and hasten to your assistance if in his power to do so.
Should you, however, be so situated as to be heard and not seen, you may use the “spell-words” ... ...
Any brother hearing these words is bound to give assistance as promptly as if he had seen the sign.
We have a “recognition sign,” to be used in promiscuous assemblages, or wherever in the “forest of life” our steps may be directed, when it may be useful or necessary for us to know if there are any Improved Red Men present. It is made thus ... Any member of the Order seeing this sign will answer it thus ...
Observing that the sign is properly answered, you may approach your newly-made acquaintance with the “grasp of friendship,” and further prove his claim to your confidence before trusting him too far. It is given thus ...
Extreme caution must be used in giving the grasp of friendship, so that palefaces shall not distinguish it.
Never extend it to a brother unless your heart beats in unison with your hand.
Instructions must be carefully imparted, so that the grip may be given by the brother in a proper manner.
You have now been duly instructed in the unwritten work of the Chiefs’ Degree. This unwritten work constitutes the sign language by which a brother may prove himself entitled to a brother’s welcome wherever burns a council brand of our Order. To guard against imposition you will use these signs with caution, and never in a trifling or careless manner. The Sannap will now seat you within the Totemic Circle.
The First Sannap seats the candidate as in the Degree of Adoption, and then takes a seat back of the Sachem, alongside of the Second Sannap. The Sachem continues: The ceremonies of our Order are founded upon the manners, customs and traditions of the aborigines of the American Continent. The Degree of Adoption illustrates their ancient mode of adoption, or naturalization; the Warriors’, the rules and regulations controlling the war-path; and the Chiefs’, the nature and character of their civil government, as well as their religious and superstitious views.
On your admission into the Council of this Degree you found all the lights extinguished, to symbolize a custom of the aborigines of extinguishing all fires and scattering the ashes once each great sun as an appeal to the Great Spirit. Deprived of fire, they believed themselves to be also deprived of the sustaining power of the Great Spirit, whose image they recognized in the sun.
As you perceived, the entrance to the Prophet’s tepee was screened from view by the form of a human skeleton, illustrating a custom by which skeletons were used in religious ceremonies as emblems of mortality, to impress novices with awe and reverence, and with the evanescent character of all things earthly.
Before the fire had been lighted the Prophet offered an invocation to the Great Spirit, which was the custom of the primitive Red Men previous to entering upon any important enterprise.
The Wampum Belt was given you in exchange for the Red Tomahawk, because the burial of the Red Tomahawk symbolized the cessation of hostilities and Tribal animosity. The Wampum Belt was a symbol of peace, and is regarded as a sure sign of friendship.
In using the Calumet, or Pipe of Peace, the Prophet pointed the stem upward, in order to propitiate the good will of the Great Spirit, believing his words would ascend to him in the smoke. The Calumet was a sacred pipe, and was never used except at the ratification of treaties, and on religious occasions. In the Chiefs’ Degree its use symbolized the Token of covenant between the exalted brother and the Chiefs.
Brother, you have now been made acquainted with the rites and mysteries of the Chiefs’ Degree.
The Sachem gives two raps, which call up the officiating Chiefs, and the Second Sannap takes charge of the newly-exalted brother. The First Sannap, followed by the Chiefs trail around the council chamber and sing the Ode of Exaltation:
The Chief is exalted; in triumph has won,
On the pathway of Freedom (may it still guide him on),
The spell. word of Friendship, in which we unite,
For deeds of true Charity, Justice and Right.
Then hail to the Chieftain; exalted be he;
Be his heart ever noble, e’er generous and free;
Responsive to woe, when in pity it pleads,
And in mercy extending the solace it needs,
When the Ode is finished, a member not in costume takes charge ol the candidate, the officiating Chiefs trail and finally form in two ranks diagonally across the council chamber toward the inner wicket, while the member and candidate trail between them out into the Forest, after which, with evolutions, the officiating Chiefs trail to the paraphernalia room, divest themselves of their costumes, and then re-enter the council chamber, resuming their stations.
The Sachem will give one rap with tomahawk and say: Guard of the Wigwam, you will notify the brothers to enter.
The brother in charge of the newly-exalted brother will instruct him how to pass the wickets and to enter the council chamber, then fellow him. They make the usual salutation to the Sachem, when the brother will say: Sachem, our brother now awaits further instructions.
Sachem: The traditions of our Order trace its history to those patriotic organizations known as the Tamina Societies, Sons of Liberty, and the Order of Red Men, all of which existed prior to the birth of the Republic. As early as 1765, they were a powerful factor in those events which finally crystallized into the Declaration of Independence and the United States of America. Their motto was Freedom, and the government they founded stands to-day foremost among the nations of the earth. The Order of Red Men pledged their sacred honor to defend the Union and this Emblem of Liberty.
An American flag is here exhibited.
The Freedom they then proclaimed and gained through struggle and suffering, has been given to us as a priceless legacy, always to be sacredly guarded. To the Improved Order of Red Men, the oldest organization in our land of purely American origin and teachings, should be given the proud privilege of handing down to posterity this heritage, spotless and untarnished. Red Men should always be true to our government, this Glorious Flag, and our precept “Freedom,” which will remain to bless those who succeed us in the glorious work of humanity..
You are required to punctually attend the councils of the Tribe, and to perform your share of the labor and responsibility. Never be drawn aside from the path of duty by any idle pleasure, nor become forgetful of the signs and passwords. Be careful in their use, that you do not inadvertently disclose them.
I now present you with a copy of the Constitution and By-Laws of the Tribe, which you will carefully study.
I will also instruct you in the signs of honor that are given when an official visitation is made by the Great Chiefs or by another Tribe.
When the Great Chiefs or a visiting Tribe are admitted, the Sachem calls up the Tribe, and the members place the back of the open left hand against the forehead, the fingers and thumb extended straight; remaining in that position until the usual salutation to the Sachem is made, when we salute them as follows:
The hands placed in position as if holding a bow and arrow for the purpose of discharging the arrow both arms extended, the left hand about seven inches in advance of the right, then quickly drawing back the right hand and suddenly bringing it into the palm of the left hand with a loud slap.
We have a sign of recognition between members of this Degree and members of the Degree of Pocahontas, a branch of the Improved Order of Red Men. It is made thus ..., and signifies ... The answer is made thus ..., and means a ...
This tomahawk is the visible symbol of the Sachem’s authority in the Tribe. The sound of the tomahawk is as potent and imperative as the voice of the Sachem. One rap calls the Tribe to order or seats it when standing. Gives one rap. Two raps call up the elective and appointed Chiefs. Gives two raps. Four raps, in couplets, two slow and two in quick succession, call up the Tribe. Gives them.
Sannap, you will now introduce the brother to the Tribe, so that he may receive the salute and congratulations of the brothers.
The “salute” is the same as is given on the visitation of Great Chiefs.
Sannap: Chiefs and brothers of ... Tribe, No. ..., by direction of the Sachem, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Brother ..., who has just been exalted to the Chiefs’ Degree. You will assist me in giving the salute, and then extend to him the grasp of friendship.
After the salute is given and a few breaths allowed the members to congratulate the brother, the Sannap conducts him to a seat. The Sachem will call the Tribe to order, and then proceed with the Order of Business.