History of Mic-O-Say

Among the huge rocks and scraggly pines of Riverton, Wyoming, a new idea was born in the early Twenties that would come to mean a unique way of life to thousands of Kansas City-area Scouts and Scouters. Late in 1922, H. Roe Bartle, then a young southern Scoutmaster and lawyer, was persuaded by the officers of the newly founded Boy Scouts of America to become the first Scout Executive of the Central Wyoming Council in Casper, Wyoming. The Scouting movement itself was barely 10 years old and Scout executives were encouraged to find exciting ways to enhance the basic program of strengthening outdoor skills and building self-confidence. Many different honor camping organizations developed across the United States at this time. From the beginning, Roe Bartle became very interested in the rich heritage, culture and ideas of Native Americans. At the same time, an Arapaho Chieftain found himself interested in Scouting and became Scoutmaster for a troop on the nearby Wind River Reservation. He was the notable son of the late, legendary Chief Lone Bear, the last great Arapaho “peace chief.” Upon graduation from Carlisle Institute, the son – also named Lone Bear – returned to carry on his father’s desire to help the youngsters of the Wind River Reservation learn and grow. Bartle spent many hours listening to the son and his friends discuss their traditions…their brotherhood with nature…their strong belief in the Great Spirit…and their adherence to fundamental values.

The younger Lone Bear, an older man himself at the time, also was eager to share his knowledge with this youthful, energetic Scout leader and to bring the advantages of Scouting to the boys on his reservation. After a less than satisfying (to Bartle) summer camp during his first year, he started work on a more permanent summer camp for the growing Wyoming Council. He found it in a great canyon on then-Governor Robert D. Carey’s ranch, known as “Careyhurst.” It was a beautiful place for camping with a stream that cascaded down the mountainside. It was then, as Bartle prepared the council for its inaugural year at this new camp, a special decision was made. One that reverberates through our hearts today. “I decided we should establish a Tribe in Boy Scout camp which would be the honor of all honors going to those who were top leaders and top campers,” Bartle said. He convened a meeting with Chief Lone Bear and two other Native friends, a Shoshone and a Lakota, to determine the name for his concept of an honor camper program. He wanted it to be rooted in the ways of the Native American. He wanted a special word to symbolize his feelings about what Scouting and leadership should be. Out of this fateful meeting came a special word: Micosay. From Bartle’s own accounting, we have learned that the new camp society was initially introduced around the wearing of a walrus tooth, symbolizing great wisdom and courage. Nine leaders and six boys were so honored in its first year, 1924. In the second year, the walrus tooth was changed to an eagle’s claw. The friendship between the Chieftain and the young Scout Executive grew very strong. The wise Arapaho leader honored Roe with induction into his Tribe…made him a blood brother… and, in great tribute, gave young Bartle his own and his father’s name, Lone Bear.

In 1925, Bartle was selected to become Scout Executive in St. Joseph, Missouri. He brought with him his love and respect for Native American tradition – and a special leadership program blessed by his Native American friends. Upon his arrival in St. Joseph, Bartle found that their summer camp had been using another camp organization called Manhawka. The ranks within that program were papoose, brave and warrior. On May 23-24, 1925, at the conclusion of a Boy Scout training program at Camp Brinton, near Agency, Missouri, Bartle awarded single claws to 11 adult leaders he felt were worthy. This simple beginning developed into Mic-O-Say, with 35 boys and men becoming members that first summer so long ago. Soon, this leadership program based on the customs and traditions of the Native American was established in the Pony Express Council and is still in existence today. As it was the first year, Braves in the Pony Express Council today wear a single claw with no medicine pouch. (The medicine pouch was an idea added at Camp Dan Sayre in 1929.)

In 1928, Roe Bartle was transferred once again, this time to the Kansas City Area Council. Bartle enlisted the help of two key St. Joseph Tribesmen to develop their new program in Kansas City. They were Joe Scanlon and Eb Thresher, who became the first Keeper of the Wampum and the first Medicine Man, respectively. Under Bartle’s skillful leadership, Mic-O-Say quickly became a vital force; first, in 1929 at Camp Dan Sayre near Noel, Missouri, and then on the banks of the mighty Osage, from 1930 to today. It was December of 1929, that Roe Bartle and about a dozen other men dedicated to Scouting took money from their own pockets and purchased the first 468 acres of land near Osceola, Missouri, at the price of only fifty cents an acre. In 1930, Roe Bartle declared that this was the Mic-O-Say Reservation. Since then, our Reservation has grown to more than 4,000 acres. On June 12-13, 2004, Mic-O-Say in the Heart of America Boy Scout Council celebrated its 75th Anniversary with many special events and the introduction of the new Spirit Trail to SheSheBe Council Ring. Since 1928, and still counting, our Inner Circle has never been broken in spirit.


Yatahey. Let us take you back so that you might glimpse the wonders of Mic-O-Say down through the yesterdays. Let us create a ring of memories for all of us to build tomorrow upon.

WYOMING – 1922-24

From Wyoming, in the early Twenties, we were given a special word, Micosay. Recognition in this special summer camp honor society was first presented at Camp Carey, located in Careyhurst, Wyoming. A walrus tooth was the symbol of Micosay in that first year – a tribute of strength and wisdom. In the second year, an eagle’s claw took its place. Out of this revered yesterday also came SheSheBe and Lone Bear, the cleansing power of sweet grass, and an everlasting appreciation for the ways of the Native American.

CAMP BRINTON – 1925-28

From Camp Brinton in St. Joseph, we were given the first Inner Circle, the first story of Mic-O-Say, ranks of Braves, Warriors, Chieftains, and the first Mic-O-Say Chief – Chief Lone Bear. We were presented a single Eagle’s Claw for all members. We were tested, given names, and presented with questions that would eventually lead to more comprehensive vows.”


From Camp Sayre in Noel, in a cave on a mountain, Mic-O-Say was given a Brave pouch; red paint for Honor Campers; the responsibilities of Medicine Man and Keeper of the Wampum; face and body paint for ceremonies, instead of attire; White Bear; and Lone Star. Of course, there was our own first Chief, Chief Lone Bear, guiding us every step of the way. SheSheBe also was there. Call Night took place at every general council fire; there was much testing – and we saw the early beginnings of our special way of life.

CAMP OSCEOLA – 1930-1939

In the Thirties, Camp Osceola was born. Immediately, Roe Bartle declared the brand new camp the Mic-O-Say Reservation. We were given SheSheBe Council Ring; a second claw for Warriors, then designations of Hardway and Honorary; white-washed rock; the first Lone Bear Council Ring; Runner and Sachem paint, as well as continued Honor Camper, Camp Troop Honor Camper and Distinguished Staff paint; kneeling at Taps; Presiding Chieftains; Coveted Coups and Staff Coups; the first Mic-O-Say Craft Lodge; “O Come All Ye Tribesmen” – and the first Tribal Feast.

WORLD WAR II – 1940-49

The Forties brought us a major step forward in attire even while half of our members were serving our country overseas. Call Night became a single night during each session. A new Mic-O-Say Craft Lodge was built. Brave and Warrior Ceremonies became separate events. Lone Bear Council Ring was enlarged several times. Choosing Blood Brothers became a new tradition. Honor Camper and Distinguished Staff paint recognition ended. Firebuilder and Tom-Tom Beater as a combined responsibility became Green Paint; then the two were separated and Firebuilder became recognized separately with Orange Paint. Keeper of the Sacred Bundle was introduced and honored with Yellow Paint. Military Coups were first awarded. The Memorial Lodge was planned, underwritten through “twelve pieces of wampum” and work began. Blue Elk and Heart-In-Hand walked among us and gave us strength. Plastic “phantom” claws were used in ceremonies.


Then came the Fifties and, with this decade, we faced a great flood – and changes to our ways. Individual ritual in ceremony gave way to larger presentations. Red paint became the designation of Chiefs and Chieftains. Our Tribal Feast moved to the American Royal; both the selection and installation of the Presiding Chieftain took place together for the first time at the Feast. The Memorial Lodge (Great Hall) was completed. The Council of Chieftains was formally created. Paint advancement ended at age 18, unless on staff. We began using paint quills to designate duties as part of our attire. Camp A and Camp B were formed, and quickly were named Camp Wigwam and Camp Sawmill. The Mic-O-Say Long House was constructed. We were presented the first Scoutmaster Coups, Friendship Coups and Silver Coups. The great Chief Lone Bear retired and Chief Swift Eagle was called upon to guide the Mic-O-Says. Foxman became a pre-rank.

NEW FRONTIERS – 1960-1969

The decade of the Sixties brought us more authentic attire added eye-catching distinction to ceremonies. Call Night was moved into all three camps. We added formal applications for Mic-O-Say consideration. Members were first decorated with the Coup of the Long Trail and a Runner’s Coup celebrated our opening of Camp Frontier. Mic-O-Say Craft Lodges opened in all three camps. Three Directing Chiefs – Swift Eagle, Driving Rain and Crazy Eagle – guided our trails. Shaman and Sagamore became new paint duties. A new Lone Bear Council Ring took shape. The Mic-O-Say Long House was honored with a new name – Blue Elk Lodge. A gnarled, dead cedar tree was moved to a place of memory and reverence in honor of a special, gentle man.


Behold the Seventies. A decade led by Chief Crazy Eagle. Lone Bear and Lone Star passed, and Tribesmen everywhere felt it in their hearts. Two Councils merged. New customs emerged – the presentation of Lone Bear’s Medicine Bundle and all members were invited to dress in attire. We were introduced to the First Coups Ceremony and the Dog Soldier Clan. Non-staff members over the age of 18, but not yet 21, became eligible for paint. For the first time, we read THE INNER CIRCLE magazine, Customs & Traditions manual, and the CEDAR SMOKE newsletter. Our Tribal Feast and the Chieftain Ceremony were held together on the Reservation for the first time. Falling Branch and Mad Drums brightened our trails. The Mic-O-Say Dancers were formally created. We celebrated our Golden Anniversary. Camp Lone Star became a lasting tribute to the “Most Ferocious.” The flooding of the valley below SheSheBe Point was underway and the majestic Osage River soon disappeared into Truman Lake.

EAGLE FOR AN EAGLE – 1980-1989

Came the Eighties and our brotherhood grew with pride and confidence. We exchanged an Eagle for an Eagle as Chief Crazy Eagle retired and Chief Soaring Lone Eagle took over our program. We were gifted with a Dog Soldier Medicine Wheel Ceremony. The Dancer’s Coup was created. Non-Tribal Council paint elevations were moved to the last general campfire to give those outside the Inner Circle a glimpse mystique. The Spirit Council and SheSheBe Council were formed to ensure our tradition and significance. Flint and steel for Firebuilders brought “first flame.” Honored Women joined the Inner Circle. Presiding Medicine Man became a new responsibility. Lone Bear Council Ring was rebuilt once more.

PIERCING ARROW – 1990-1999

With the Nineties came more change and more wonder. Camp Piercing Arrow was so named to honor one of America’s outstanding Scoutmasters, Paul Arend. Chief Speaks With Eagles soared through our skies. Eagle Coups were first awarded to those who successfully followed the trail. Parry Lodge became the official Mic-O-Say Trading Post. Distinctive attire continued to enhance our ceremonies. Reservation camping numbers grew and grew. We enhanced Lone Bear Council Ring with wireless microphones, better lighting, and new shields and banners. A third tier was added to SheSheBe Council Ring.


Now, in the 21st Century, we see ourselves renewed and recommitted to the principles of Mic-O-Say. Already in this first decade of a new century, we have been given more special gifts: new Mic-O-Say Lodges, Religious Award Coups, 75th Anniversary Runners Coups, and 75th Anniversary Diamond Coups. The Paint Trail has been expanded and all of our ceremonies have grown deeper in their presentation. We were honored with the exceptional leadership of Chief Eagle From The Sun. We took pride in having a third Chief Scout Executive receive Red Paint. Traditions clung more tightly to our hearts and minds. Tribal Feasts at the Reservation draw ever-larger crowds of returning members. More than 4,300 members celebrated our 75th Anniversary Celebration. Chieftain Spirit Fire ignited an amazing seventy-fifth summer. Tribesmen Arise! and “Strengthened By An Eagle’s Claw” gave us lasting memories in book and video. The Spirit Trail – a place of powerful medicine where those who came before stand guard and light our way – is now a special journey winding from the Lone Star Council Ring down to SheSheBe Council Ring. White Bear Council Ring became a special place for Honorary Warriors and Honored Women. A new First Coup Ceremony was installed and Dog Soldiers took a stand in ceremony.

A NEW LONE BEAR - 2010-2020

Our way of life grows ever stronger and with it comes stricter rules for entry and elevation. Lone Bear Council Ring becomes new again with a magnificent structure, sophisticated lighting and sound systems. Yet it is the same wonderful place with so many wonderful memories. The name of our annual gathering before camp changes to Celebration to better emphasize its scope. A separate memorial service is conducted during this time for those members whose work is done. Coups of the Long Trail are presented by Chieftains in Lone Star Council Ring prior to ceremonies. Paint is presented in ceremony to reflect its importance. All TC elevations are made during the Chieftain Ceremony to allow for their immediate involvement and to focus more directly on the youth during the summer. 


The construction of the new Blue Elk Lodge (record's center) began in 2018 and was completed in 2021 and dedicated at a special ceremony held at the 92nd Annual Tribal Celebration on June 12, 2021. The new Blue Elk Lodge was built by Tribesmen known as Founder Guardians. In 1943, Chuck Henion, Chief Swift Eagle, proposed constructing a memorial to honor his fellow Tribesmen who lost their lives in World War II. Though many individuals offered large sums of money for the project, it was decided that all Tribesmen would share equally in the cost. Only modest donations of “12 Pieces of Wampum” ($12) were accepted, making it possible for many tribesmen to contribute equally to the construction of Memorial Lodge. Nearly 75 years later, the Tribe launched the Founder Tribal Guardian program, inspired by the 12 Pieces of Wampum campaign, to construct the new Blue Elk Lodge. Each Founder Guardian donated an equal amount to the Tribe for the construction of the new Blue Elk Records Center. The Founder Guardian program ended in August 2018. To view a list of the Founder Guardians, click here

And much more is coming.