On a recent Saturday afternoon, brothers Louis "Natchi" and Edward "Leaping Lizard" Levine enjoyed an unexpected outing with their father Arthur Levine, alias Uncas, chief of the 240-member Cayuga nation - one of seven nations and 230 tribes encompassing 2,200 families in metropolitan Washington.
With them were tribal members Peter "Golden Eagle" Schuyler and Doug "Running Bull" Lee with their fathers Peter "Thunder Chin" Schuyler and Henry "Silver Eagle" Lee.
As the fathers and sons, all from Aspen Hill, strutted their costumes, it didn't matter that they would never enjoy the adventure of an old-fashioned Buffalo hunt; all that mattered, they said, was the camaraderie shared by father and son as members of the Montgomery County Indian Guide parent-child program, developed by the Young Men's Christian Association.
The attraction of the Indian Guids? "You get to do a lot of stuff with your dad and get to see him a lot," said 8-year-old Peter.
Fun things, like campouts, chimed in 6-year-old Edward. A boy also gets to be with his friends, added Louis, 9. And ther's always roots and berries (refrewshments) after a meeting, said Doug, also 8. Yet the best part of the program, said the boys, was being with their fathers, and their dads echoed those sentiments.
"Here's a chance to get a little closer to them while they're still young," said Schuyler. "It also gives me a more relaxed one-on-one wasy to participate with my son rather then sending him off to a program."
The Indian Guides is a nationwide program dedicated to building relationships between fathers and sons. However, within recent years the program has taken on the added aspect of attempting to re-educate the general public about INdian traditions.
The program wax established 51 yers ago by Harold S. Keltner, a YMCA director in St. Louis and his Ojibway Indian friend, Joe Firday. Impetus for the program was Friday's observationthat white men were basically workaholics who left child-rearing responsibilities to their wives. In the Indian culture father's built sons, said Friday, while white men built cities.
"I've never forgotten that," said Levine."I think in today's world many of us lare heavily involved in work and all the usual problems, so there's not enoughtime to be with the youngsters. The Indian Guide program brings the father and son together."
The structure of the program is loosely based on Indian culture. Individaul tribes, composed of 6-8 teams, meet twice monthly in members' homes. Twice a year tow major events - a weekend campout or a family social event, called and Eagle Feast - are held by the nation. Children in the tribe are generally between six and eight years old - "though we don't kick anybody out," said Levine - therefore competition and emphasis on Indian folklore is minimal.
"The reason I got involved is I didn't see anything for younger children," explained Lee. "My daughter had bellet and girl scouts, but for boys there wasn't that much."
Another benefit fo the program is the closeness it generates between the families, they said.
"In the suburbs you're nearly isolated and you make your friends from other sources," said Levine. Through family relationships fostered in Indian Guides the men said they've developed close friendships and even shared in outside activities.
"There was a Chinese fair down in Alexandria and Hank asked me to put up some bulletins," said Levine. "We (the family) also made sure we went to it."
In addition to father-son tribes there are also princess nations which involve father-daughter teams. Single parents with children are also encourage dot join the program.
"If there are mothers and sons who want to come in we would adjust the organization because we're interested in children," said Levine.
The organization is also interested in attracting more min!ority participation said Dave Donahue, director of the Montgomery County YMCA, by attmepting ot adapt the program for cultures unable to relate to the Indian culture. At present, Afro-Cuide programs are being testerd in other parts of the country, he said.
In an effort to re-educate the public about misconceptions concerning Indians, the interrational divisionof the YMCA has established national and regional commissions to revamp Indian guide literature and programming. John Parker, a member of the Choc-taw nation of Oklahome, has worked lfor the Bureau of Indian Affairs 13 years. He is curently chairman of the national consulting team working with the YMCAs in the Southeast region of the country.
"One of the biggest problems (we had) was in educating the general public that we are humbna" said Parker. Over the past few years the "Y" has begun to exclude references to religious ceremonies from the Indian guide manuals because Indians did not want their lreligion to be used a s a recreeational vehicle, explained Parker. Also gone from the manuals are Indian stereotypes, and ther's been an updating of terminology.
"People were still calling the drum a tom-tom and that's a hollywood ltype word," said Parker. "We call it a drum. They were also calling women squaw. Squaw is an Algonquin word meaning prostitute. They were calling their wives and everyone squaw. We began telling them to change it for their own sake."
There are presently 8 million people involved in the Indian Guides porgram, said Parker.