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Home of the Eagles

It is good to look back and reflect about our beginnings. One such area of reflection surrounds our Lodge name. In recent years, some have questioned the origin and English translation of our Lodge name, Wa-Hi-Nasa, Home of the Eagles. Today, we say that our Lodge name, as translated from the Cherokee language, is “Home of the Eagles.” Is this a correct translation? 

wahinasaOur Lodge was chartered in 1938 and took the name Wa-Hi-Nasa, translated from Cherokee into english. Meanings can change over time and online American Indian dictionaries are incomplete at best. Even slight spelling alterations do happen over time. Additionally, the written Cherokee language is separate from English and is based on a syllabary. That is, each sound in a word is represented by one of 85 separate characters that make up the Cherokee alphabet. What about Wa-Hi-Nasa? Does it really translate to “Home of the Eagles?” In a word, YES! The name Wa-Hi-Nasa is in the Cherokee syllabary. It translates exactly as: A person doing research based on available Cherokee dictionaries would however be hard pressed to find exact translation matches. There are however two Cherokee words that contain a similarities to our Lodge name. The first word is eagle. In Cherokee, the syllabary for eagle is “a-wa-hi-li” (bold added for emphasis). In the available Cherokee dictionaries there is no listing for the plural of eagle.

Pictorial  representations suggest that the above term seems to refer to a bald eagle which is the Lodge’s totem. Lodge tradition is that the word home is not the word originally translated into Cherokee but rather lair was the word used. Unfortunately, the word lair cannot be found in any modern Cherokee dictionary. However, the word place can be found, the syllabary being “na-nah-I” (bold added for emphasis). While both of these words, eagle and place, do not directly translate into our tag line “home of the eagles”, they are undeniably close. 

In conclusion, our Lodge name does appear to translate more precisely as “Eagles Lair” or “Eagles Place.” Even so, “Home of the Eagles” means exactly the same thing as these other translations and is simply a more understandable modern translation of the original. So take pride in our Lodge name and know that our founders established a noble and rich tradition that is indeed based on Cherokee language and culture.

History of the Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge

The Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge, as the 111th registered Order of the Arrow Lodge, was founded on May 20, 1938 at the original Camp Boxwell, located on the Narrows of the Harpeth. Due to the assistance of Dr. Peterson, from Franklin, Tennessee, the first of Wa-Hi-Nasa’s ordeal ceremonies was performed by the Cherokee Lodge, located in Birmingham, Alabama. With their assistance, eight scouts successfully went through the ceremony: Roy Shaub, Hilary Osborn, O. E. Brandon, Jr., Lynn Farrar, Forest Glascow, James Gribble, A. J. Anderson, and Tillman Newsum. Three of these newly inducted members were on the staff of Nashville’s scouting publication, The Bugle. The Bugle and its staff helped publicize the Order of the Arrow and the Wa-Hi-Nasa lodge to the members of the Middle Tennessee Council. During these early years of the Order, then called Wimachtendienk W. W., members were elected by a vote of the summer camp participants, not their home troop. After each member proceeded through the Ordeal, he was to wear his sash on his left shoulder. When he obtained the status of Brotherhood, he was permitted to move it to his right shoulder. 

Roy Shaub was chosen as the first Lodge Chief and A. J. Anderson would be the Supreme Chief of the Fire. By the 1960s, the Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge began seeing improvement as Camp Boxwell relocated to its current location on Old Hickory Lake. The move was largely due to the camp’s tremendous attendance at its eight weeks of camp each year. The Ordeals that were held then lasted an incredible three weeks, rather than the almost three days it requires today. During their three weeks of work, the candidates cleared brush and other things to ready all the sites at Boxwell. The first of the Ordeal ceremonies at Boxwell Reservation was held at Camp Parnell, near the northeast corner of the athletic field. Even after the Ordeal, the 1960 Boxwell Camp Staff had to clear the brush for their campsite and then laid the platforms for their tents. It was after that onslaught of work that Wa-Hi-Nasa decided to hold two Ordeals, rather than one. 

Soon thereafter, Wa-Hi-Nasa established its first chapters. Each chapter was divided into districts, each given its own number rather than a name. Some of the chapters lacked official advisers, or any form of adult guidance. The Order of the Arrow, at that time, did not supply a handbook for advisers. The only source for a job description for advisers were located in the Order of the Arrow Handbook or the Ordeal pamphlets, which were extremely brief on the matter. Lodge Adviser Howard B. Olson. Taking the helm in 1978, Mr. Olson helped lead a transformation of the Lodge into a large, vibrant organization. Under Mr. Olson’s watch, the lodge developed a formal committee system and comprehensive Lodge training program. Most of all, Mr. Olson brought a vision of excellence in youth driven service that continues on to this day.

The Lodge experienced its most dramatic growth due to the influence of Howard B. Olson During its existence, Wa-Hi-Nasa has hosted many members who have been privileged to hold sectional, regional, and even national offices. Several Wa-Hi-Nasa members have been elected National Chief of the Order of the Arrow: Cliff Harmon, originally an Ordeal member of the Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge, went on to be elected National Chief. In 2002, Clay Capp served as National Chief, in 2013, Matt Brown was elected to serve as the National Chief, and in 2016, Hunter Jones was also elected to serve in this high office. In 1997 Josh Sain served as National Vice-Chief. Todd Trapnell served as the Southeastern Region Chief in 1987, and Michael Salazar was elected the first Southern Region Chief in 1993. Wa-Hi-Nasa has also had thirteen members serve as a Section Chief including Chris Snoddy, David Garrett, Todd Trapnell, Craig Salazar, Todd Metcalf, Michael Salazar, Jim Schwab, Scott Danton, Josh Sain, Clay Capp, Peter Capp, Roderick McDaniel, and Matt Brown.

Lodge members William F. Ketron Sr., Ray Capp, Josh Sain, Clay Capp, Craig Salazar, David Garrett, and Matt Brown have also served on the National Order of the Arrow Committee. In 2009, Ray Capp became the Chairman of the National Order of the Arrow Committee and in 2010 Craig Salazar was named a Vice Chairman. 

The Wa-Hi-Nasa lodge also has a history of exceptional service. The Lodge itself has been recognized with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award, and the E. Urner Goodman Camping Award. This dedication to outstanding service is not only shown by the lodge but can also be seen in the accolades of it’s members. Fourteen members have received the OA Distinguished Service Award, presented to those Arrowmen who have rendered distinguished and outstanding service to the Order on a sectional, regional, or national basis. The members who have received this award include: Ray Capp, William F. Ketron, Sr., Howard Olson, Todd Trapnell, David Garrett, Craig Salazar, Michael Salazar, Todd Metcalf, Jim Schwab, Carl E. Head II, Ben Janke, Clay Capp, Ian Romaine, and Ron Turpin. Wa-Hi-Nasa Lodge has a distinguished history of cheerful service of which all its members can be proud.

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