Karankawa Lodge was founded on June 20, 1945 with Billy Dunn serving as the first Lodge Chief. As the Order of the Arrow began to grow, new lodges were sequentially numbered according to their founding order. Karankawa Lodge was designated as number 307, being the 307th lodge established.
Lodge Chief Bill Ault designed the Lodge totem in 1950, which is still in use today. Section 2, Part 3 of the Official Rules of Karankawa Lodge states that the “totem of this Lodge shall be a black frigate bird.” The Lodge totem appears on all Lodge pocket flaps and is predominately displayed in the Carter Campfire Circle. The bird’s beak is always pointed to the bird’s left. The beak was designated to always face to the left because the eagle used by Nazi Germany faced to that bird’s right. You may note that the Lodge totem was selected just five years after the end of WWII, and during that period individuals were still sensitive to not copying anything that might appear Nazi looking.
The frigate bird is a tropical sea bird with long, pointed wings, a long forked tail, and a long and prominently hooked bill. Five frigate bird species occur worldwide. One species can be found along the Texas coast. The species is scientifically known as Fregata Magnificens or more commonly as the magnificent frigate bird. Mature males are entirely black, while mature females are black with a white chest. The frigate bird has a greater wingspan (7 ½ feet) in proportion to body weight (3 ½ lbs.) that any other bird in the world. It cannot swim or rise from the water, but instead perches on pilings and other structures. It swoops through the air to snatch food without wetting a feather and robs other sea birds (gulls, bobbies, and terns) of their food.
The Lodge Official Rules further state that “the totem shall be superimposed on a yellow, tri-arched yellow cloud outlined with blue”, the three clouds representing the three points of the Scout Oath; and “with twelve blue vertical rain stripes appended to the base of the cloud”, representing the twelve points of the Scout Law. The letters WWW are superimposed, one on each of the tri-arched clouds.
Karankawa Lodge is named after the now extinct Karankawa tribe. The name Karankawa is the accepted tribal designation for several related bands of nomadic Texas coastal Native American peoples who shared a common language and culture. The bands, identified in early historic writings, include the Capoques, Kohanis, Kopanes, and Carancaquacas. They inhabited the gulf coast of Texas from Galveston Bay southwestward to Corpus Christi Bay. The Karankawa were lightly equipped nomads who migrated between the barrier islands and the coast plains. Little is known about the Karankawa language, and only about 100 words of that language have been preserved. It is known that the Karankawa were not related linguistically to the other indigenous tribes of Texas, and their origin was unknown until recently. It is now known that the Karankawa were related to a tribe known as the Carib for which the Caribbean Sea is named. The Carib’s lived on the islands of the Lesser Antilles, having migrated from Venezuela around 1200 A.D. The last speakers of Carib died in 1920 and the language is now considered extinct.
Karankawa Lodge has provided a great deal of physical service to Camp Karankawa through maintenance and repair. In 1958, when Lake Corpus Christi was increased, much of the original camp had to be moved and the camp was expanded. Much of the concrete work at the camp, including campsite tables, showers, and latrine slabs were made through Lodge labor. Although much has been replaced, the Carter Campfire Circle remains a shining example of Karankawa Lodge commitment and continuing service. The ring, from the concrete benches to the totem poles was conceived, planned, and constructed by members of Karankawa Lodge from 1958 to the present. The Lodge in 2009 also instituted a day of service at the adjoining Lake Corpus Christi State Park.
In 1986 the Lodge began offering its February Fellowship as a Native American weekend, open to all Order of the Arrow members including our neighboring lodges, Scouters including Cubs, and the community at large. In 2005 it was decided by the Lodge to use the February Fellowship and the Native American weekend as a tool to increase the crossover rate of Cubs to Scouting. Beginning as simply a Council wide crossover ceremony for Packs and Troops, the program has evolved – offering a program targeting Cubs crossing over to get their Scout badge and a new Scout parent introduction to Scouting and the Troop. This service is unique to this region, if not nationally, and is being continually expanded and revised by youth and adult members of the Lodge to assist more units and youth.
Karankawa Lodge has been recognized on three different occasions with the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award for national excellence in camping promotion. Only six of these awards are presented each year nationwide. The Lodge has also received the National Order of the Arrow Quality Lodge designation numerous times, the last being in 2011.
In ceremony competitions at the National level, Karankawa teams have received Honor Lodge, the highest recognition given in competition until the 2012 competition – twice to Lodge Pre-Ordeal teams, once to a Brotherhood team, and twice to Vigil teams. In 2012 Karankawa Lodge’s Pre-Ordeal team was recognized as among the Top Nine best Pre-Ordeal teams in the nation out of over 350 Lodges competing.
Karankawa Lodge has also been nationally recognized by the Order of the Arrow through its Native American program. In 1992 the Lodge took first place in Native American Team Dance competition, and in 2006 won first in Native American Team Singing competition. Since 1992 Karankawa has had over 75 boys place in the top ten in their Native American individual dance competitions at the national level, including one three time National First Place Fancy Dance Champion, a First Place National Traditional Dance Champion, and a First Place National Grass Dance Champion.
Courtesy of: Roger Schustereit. Doug Manheimer, and David Russell.