The History of Talidandaganu Lodge #293

Talidandaganu’ Lodge, as it is known today, was chartered in February 1957, but it was preceded by both another OA lodge and a local honor campers society. Five councils in Tennessee, including ours, formed the honor campers society known as “The Tribe of Chickamauga” around 1926. Then in 1939 the council, known as Chattanooga Area Council, began inquires about forming an Order of the Arrow lodge. The council’s application for a charter, possibly delayed by World War II, was approved on May 1, 1945.

The first lodge was named “Chickamauga“, which means “river of death“, and was taken from the band of renegade Cherokee Indians by that name, led by Chief Dragging Canoe. The totem for this lodge was a beaver. Chickamauga Lodge was basically inactive and disbanded in 1947.

In the fall of 1956, new interest in the Order of the Arrow caused local scouts to petition the National Council in New Jersey for another OA charter. This application was approved on February 4, 1957. Scout Ron Stulce then sent a letter on February 18, 1957, to all Scouts in the council who met the requirements for membership, asking them to contact the council office if they were interested.

On June 28-29, 1957, twenty charter members of Talidandaganu’ Lodge were inducted at Camp Cherokee in an ordeal ceremony performed by members of Pellissippi Lodge #230 from Knoxville.

The name “Tali-danda-ganu’ ” was proposed with an eagle in flight as the totem.In Cherokee, Tali-danda-ganu’ means “two looking at each other,” referring to Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain, which face each other,

Charter Members of Talidandaganu’ 293 Lodge.

Tom AinsworthByron Baker
Dean BiskeyCliff Bowers, Jr.
Pierce CordenBill Goins
Tommy GreenNeal Grove
Jesse Gunn*Robert Hines
John Jenkins John Newell
Jim Noel*George Norris
Butch Quarles Paul Rouse
Sid Shelton Tom Simmons
Ron Stulce John Wilson

*These were members of the council professional staff.

The first Brotherhood ceremony was held in July of 1958, performed again by a team from Pellissippi Lodge of the Great Smoky Mountains Council. Eleven Talidandaganu’ members were inducted into the brotherhood at that time.

In 1963, the lodge’s first Vigil Honor ceremony was held to present Tommy Chamberlain and Ron Stulce with the Vigil Honor. Later that same year, the Vigil was presented to James T. Pierce.

Our lodge members conducted the second Ordeal ceremony at Camp Cherokee on November 8-9, 1957 with nine new members being inducted.
Then on July 18-19, 1958, another 25 new members were inducted during the lodge’s third Ordeal ceremony.

The second Brotherhood ceremony on October 11, 1958 saw eight members sealing their membership in the order. The fourth Ordeal ceremony inducted 35 new members and the fifth, held in September 1960 at Camp Tsatanugi, added another nineteen.

At the Spring Ordeal in June of 1989, our lodge inducted its first female member, Jo Ann McKinney. At the Fall Ordeal in October 1995, she became the first female member of our lodge to be awarded the Vigil Honor.

Since 1957, Talidandaganu’ Lodge has been active in Area and National Conferences. In 1965, our lodge hosted the first Area V-D conclave at the Patton Hotel in downtown Chattanooga. The ceremony competitions and outside activities during the conference were held on Lookout Mountain.

At the Area V-D conclave in 1972 at Boxwell Scout Reservation, Middle Tennessee Council, a newly formed Talidandaganu’ Lodge dance team performed the Hopi Snake Dance using live snakes. It was a very impressive presentation and created quite a stir. The judges were set to award our team first place when it was pointed out that the snake dance is a religious ceremony and therefore not allowed for competition.

With the rearrangement of OA sections in the early 70’s, Talidandaganu’ Lodge had the honor of hosting the first SE-IIA conclave at Camp Cherokee in April 1973. This was the last council activity held at Camp Cherokee before moving to Skymont Scout Reservation in the summer of 1973.

In 1976, at the SE-IIA conclave at Skymont, Dave Worland of Talidandaganu’ was elected Section Chief. Later that year at the National Planning meeting in Knoxville, Dave was elected by his fellow southeast section chiefs to the office of SE Region Chief, the first region chief to come from Tennessee. For his service and leadership, Dave was presented the Distinguished Service Award at the 1979 National OA Conference.

The SE-IIA section conclave in 1979 and the Diamond Jubilee SE-6 section conclave in 1985 were also hosted by Talidandaganu’ Lodge, each at Skymont in Altamont, Tennessee. When the lodges realigned again in 1993, our lodge got the privilege of hosting the first SR-6 conclave at Skymont. Twelve lodges with members from Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia were in attendance.

Numerous section/area and region OA leaders have called Talidandaganu’ Lodge their home.

Mr. Bill Ketron, past section advisor and Southeast Region OA Chairman belonged to our lodge before relocating to Middle Tennessee. In 1981, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for long-standing leadership and service.

Another SE Region Chief who was first a member of our lodge was Alan Cooper, who served as region chief from 1981 to 1983. Alan started his leadership as Ocoee Chapter Chief, and later when his family moved to Alabama, he became section and then region chief while a member of Alibamu Lodge.

The 1986 lodge chief, Teddy Shelton, was elected SE-6 section chief at the 1990 conclave at Roane State College. Then at the regional meeting he was elected Southeast Region Chief for 1990.

In 1988 the lodge ceremonial team competed at the National Order of the Arrow Conference in Colorado. The team received the award for fourth place overall in the nation. The team consisted of Teddy Shelton as Allowat Sakima (2nd place individually), Brad Pope as Meteu (3rd place individually), Billy Durkin as Kichkinet (1st place individually) and Brian Glover as Nutiket.

In 2007 the Lodge celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a reunion held at Chester Frost Park. Members from every decade, including three charter members, were in attendance. The keynote address was given by the National Vice-Chief.

2010 welcomed the 100th Anniversary of Scouting in Chattanooga.