Ni-Sanak-Tani FAQ

This page contains answers to common questions handled by our support staff, along with some tips and tricks that we have found useful and presented here as questions.

  1. How do I join OA?
  2. Call Out and Ordeal Questions
  3. Why bring a Med Form to events?
  4. Can I leave events early?
  5. Who is our troop’s OA Representative?
  6. I didn’t get a SmokeSignal newsletter?
  7. OA Lodge Merchandise
  8. OA Lodge Flap Primer
  9. How do you pronounce Ni-Sanak-Tani?
  10. What ever happened to the Braves of Decorah?
  11. Why are the Dues different for adults?
  12. What is Crew 381 and why are they asking me to register with them?
  13. How do I become an NST Officer or Committee Chair/Member?
  14. Vigil Honor Nominations

Otherwise, check the National OA Site ( or contact our Lodge Chief or Adviser.

How do I join OA?

See the OA facts sheet from BSA National. OA is the only current organization where candidates for membership are selected by nonmembers as well as members. Elections are usually held between February and April, with the Call Out recognition during the spring district camporee. Youth are selected by an election in the troop (plus, starting 2/1/2019, in a crew or ship), performed by a trained election team from our Lodge. Adults are nominated for what they can do for the lodge, after the unit successfully elects a youth. Once a youth is elected, or an adult’s nomination is accepted, they have 12 months to perform their Ordeal, or they will have to be re-elected or re-nominated.

If you’ve already been elected and completed your Ordeal, you can transfer your membership to our Lodge by contacting the Lodge Adviser or VC-Administration.

If you’re a past member of a lodge and want to get back active, you need to be registered with a Scouting unit, and pay this year’s NST Lodge Annual Dues. You need not pay the interim years.

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Call Out and Ordeal Questions

My troop isn’t attending Camp Decorah, but is attending another BSA summer camp facility; can I be Called Out there? Yes, with prior arrangement. First, you must be elected by an NST Elections Team. Next, your Election’s paperwork has to be specifically certified by the NST VC-Administration for Out-of-Council Call-Out, and, finally, a copy of the election results provided to the host Lodge. Similarly, an Out-of-Council troop attending Camp Decorah can participate in the NST Call-Out/Recognition ceremony at the close of your camp week through the same procedure. You can only attend the Ordeal held by the Lodge you were elected into.

Do I have to be called out to attend Ordeal? No, but you must have been ELECTED within the past 12 months of the Ordeal date. If you cannot attend an Ordeal within 12 months of your election, you will have to be reelected. Once elected, we’ll send you an invitation letter for the Ordeals scheduled until you are no longer eligible.

What do I bring to the Ordeal? Your invitation letter will explain the equipment and attire for you to bring. If it’s not on the list, please don’t bring it.

This video, by another lodge, might help with some background information.

If you have any other questions, contact the Lodge Adviser or VC-Administration.

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Why bring a Med Form to events?

Just like your registered unit, we need to have contact information and treatment permission. A copy of the same form that is on file with your registered unit will do, or have your parent/guardian fill out and sign the necessary (non physician) sections of the new Annual Health and Medical Form as they drop you off at the event (this HAS TO BE YOUR parent/guardian). If you have a temporary concern or condition, you should inform the registration table when you arrive.

Without a current form on file with the Lodge, you won’t be allowed to participate.

If you have prescription medicines, they should be surrendered at the registration table upon arrival IN THEIR PROPERLY LABELED CONTAINER, and picked up upon departure (same procedures and exceptions as summer camp). Our medical officer will ensure they’re dispensed as ordered during the event.

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Can I leave events early?

Just like summer camp, you need a signed note from your parents to leave an event with someone else. The event Registrar must know who is at the event AT ALL TIMES.

Certain events (e.g., Ordeal) require end-to-end event attendance. (A special allowance can be made for LDS Candidates and others that cannot stay until Sunday, but we need to know in advance.) Otherwise, you can leave early, or temporarily depart an event, by signing out with the Registrar in the presence of your parent/guardian. If you plan to not attend the complete event, make sure you explain the details to the Registrar upon initial arrival so we can plan for getting you to your pickup point at the appropriate time, and to not log you to a group during your absence.

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Who is our troop’s OA Representative?

Find out more about OA Troop Representatives from the National OA site.

Each troop should have an OA Representative to our Lodge. If you don’t know who it is, ask your Scoutmaster. Better yet, volunteer! Troop adults appreciate having a youth provide OA information into their troop as it makes one less thing for them to keep track of!

This is a “Position of Responsibility” that counts towards Star, Life and Eagle ranks, on top of helping your troops’ Arrowmen stay involved in Lodge events and assisting the Lodge Election Team.

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I didn’t get a SmokeSignal newsletter?

The SmokeSignal is only mailed to current members about every other month. We do mail the “annual banquet and renewal” issue to recently-expired members, as a way of getting them information on their status.

Check the top line of your address label for the last paid year of your membership. If it doesn’t agree with what you think it should be, contact the Lodge Adviser or VC-Administration.

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OA Lodge Merchandise

Show your pride in Ni-Sanak-Tani! Our Trading Post is set up at all OA events. You can also find basic NST items at the Scout Office and the Summer Camp Trading Post. If you want something special, contact our VC-Finance.

ARTISTS: We need patch designs. Whether it’s for the normal lodge flap, a T-shirt, or for NOAC or Jamboree patches, we’re always on the lookout for rough designs for our personalized items; contact our VC-Finance. The patch company artist can clean up your design and descriptions. Lodge Flaps need to have our name (NST), our totem (canoe), the “<—WWW—-<<<<”, the OA Logo or Arrowhead, and the Fleur-de-lis. Event flaps also need the name of the event and the year.

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OA Lodge Flap Primer

To wear a Lodge Flap signifies that you are an ACTIVE (paid-up) member of THAT Lodge. At many OA events, Arrowmen socialize by exchanging Flaps, or Flap Sets. (Unlike Jamboree, adults and youth CAN directly trade, since youth are older.) You’re welcome to trade using any Lodge/Council-issued patch but your uniform can only have the one that pertains to YOUR Lodge of registration.

What types of Lodge Flaps does NST have? Since January, 2008, our Lodge uses a common Green border color (“merrow”). We also have Black border trading issues that are not appropriate for uniform wear. Our Lodge contingents to National events have a unique silver-edged Flap Set (pocket flap and a matching ‘temporary’ pocket cover); in this case, NST Members can wear the lower part under the same guidelines as a temporary camporee patch.

We previously used the border color to signify the membership level: Red/Ordeal, Blue/Brotherhood, and White/Vigil Honor, but this has been discontinued, per National policy. (An NST Brotherhood member could wear either Red or Blue NST flap, but hasn’t earned the right to wear a White NST flap.) If earned, a member can continue to wear those discontinued flaps.

If a Lodge #381 Arrowman earned their membership under the Braves of Decorah, they may wear that ‘BoD’ version, instead of having to wear one of the newer ‘Ni-Sanak-Tani’ versions.

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How do you pronounce Ni-Sanak-Tani?

Ni-Sanak-Tani is pronounced “Knee – SHA Nock – Dah KNEE” in Hocąk, the language of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Ni = Three; Sanak = Gather; Tani = River… meaning “the place where three rivers meet”. This was voted most appropriate (see next FAQ entry), due to the geography at Decorah’s Peak, where Chief One Eye Decorah survived a brutal attack by a neighboring tribe, then floated down the Mississippi River to Prairie du Chien, WI, for help from another clan of his own Winnebagos. This peak is just north west of Camp Decorah and overlooks the Black River, with the bluffs of the Mississippi River only a short distance away.

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What ever happened to the Braves of Decorah?

The Braves of Decorah (“BoD”) was the original name of our Lodge. The Order of the Arrow in the Gateway Area Council grew out of a local honor campers society, the Braves of DeCorah. While serving on the staff of Camp Ammon in 1946, several Braves of DeCorah members were forced to remove their emblem, while Order of the Arrow members were permitted to wear their insignias.
This incident prompted them to look into the national campers’ brotherhood and led to the chartering of the Braves of DeCorah as an Order of the Arrow Lodge. In the fall of 1947 a charter was granted to the Braves of Decorah Lodge 381.

In the early 1990’s, the members voted to change the name to improve relations with the Ho-Chunk Nation. After several months of research, Ni-Sanak-Tani was chosen, meaning “the place where three rivers meet” (Mississippi, Black, & La Crosse rivers), although there are technically seven rivers that flow through our area (adding the Buffalo, Trempealeau, and Kickapoo rivers in Wisconsin, and the Root in Minnesota).

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Why are the Dues different for adults?

National OA raised the annual lodge member fee by 50% effective for 2005. As a way to help our families and youth, the Lodge Executive Committee voted to retain the $10 youth dues, but raise the adults annual dues to $15. Adults are anyone that is 21 years old, or over, as of 1/1 of that year. This is also to recognize that adults typically have more money-earning power (a.k.a. jobs) than youth.

Similarly, our Ordeal fees are $5 higher for adults, too.

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What is Crew 381 and why are they asking me to register with them?

Crew 381 is the Ni-Sanak-Tani Venturing umbrella unit, mainly for our travel arrangements to section and national events. Since you have to be an OA member, females under 21 years old are not eligible to join this venturing crew (until 2/1/2019).

“Members of the OA may be official dues-paying (and, in the case of youth, voting) members of only one lodge, that being the lodge chartered to the council where they reside and have their principal Scouting Registration.” (OA Handbook, p. 47, 2000 revision.)

If you received this invitation, you no longer have a ‘principal Scouting Registration’ with the Gateway Area Council and any unit. You are being offered the opportunity to become a member of our Lodge Crew as a way to maintain that important registration, and your membership in our Lodge.

This is only open to Lodge members that are no longer affiliated with a traditional unit. We’d prefer that you continue to be a member and a resource for your regular, or past, Scouting unit.

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How do I become an NST Officer or Committee Chair/Member?

To be an Officer or Committee Chair, you must be under 21 years old. At the person’s 21st birthday, they can no longer serve in a youth position. For that reason, those age 20 are unable to serve a full term and are discouraged from running for a position.

Officers are elected by the youth members in attendance at our fall election meeting. To run for the office of lodge chief, you must submit a letter explaining your interests and commitment to the Supreme Chief of the Fire (Council Executive), at least 2 weeks prior to the voting meeting. (This is recommended for the other vice-chief positions, as well, but isn’t mandatory.)

Committee Chairs are appointed by the Key-3 (Lodge Chief, Lodge Adviser, Lodge Staff Adviser, or their Chapter counterparts) annually from those serving on, or having an interest in, that committee.

Lodge Officers and Committee Chairs are expected to personally attend most lodge functions, especially the regular Lodge Executive Committee (LEC) meetings. If they cannot attend, they must ensure that their position’s responsibilities are covered by someone other than another VC.

Chapter Officers and Committee Chairs are expected to personally attend most chapter functions, especially the regular Chapter Committee meetings, as well as be a good example by participating in lodge functions as possible.

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Vigil Honor Nominations

All currently-registered members of Ni-Sanak-Tani with 2 years as a Brotherhood member are automatically considered for the annual Vigil Honor selection. The Committee doesn’t know everyone in the Lodge, so if another member would like to nominate a worthy individual, the Committee would appreciate the background information as it considers those worthy of the honor.

Selection annually occurs each spring, with the Call Out at an appropriate venue, and the Vigil Ceremony itself falling in late August.

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