1973: The Merger
As part of the 1973 BSA Region Reorganization, Riverside County Council # 45 and Arrowhead Area Council merged to form California Inland Empire Council # 45 on January 1, 1973. This Council merger started the clock for the Order of the Arrow Lodges 1 to merge.
The name of the new Lodge was announced at the 1973 Section W4B Conclave.
Cahuilla Lodge # 127 was formed on June 1, 1973. The Lodge began with two Ordeals, one held at Camp Helendade and another at Camp Emerson.
Both Lodges were strong organizations with some key differences in how they operated. Wisumahi Lodge was a distributed Lodge, owing to its territory covering most of the area of the largest County in the United States. Tahquitz Lodge, while also covering a large (and long) County, were centered over Greater Riverside. Thus, their operations were much different.
Tahquitz was thought to limit their Vigil Honor selections and paid the dues for Vigil Honor members for life. They were also seen as one of the key Lodges in Area 12-A. Wisumahi had a good operation, but were a bit more generous awarding the Vigil Honor and did not have quite the Native American affairs program.
In addition, there were divergent views on insignia. Wisumahi had a freely distributed pocket flap, while the pocket flap from Tahquitz was restricted (not in line with OA policy at the time). The combined leadership opted for a compromise. A “trader” flap would be made available to all while a somewhat restricted Cahuilla rattlesnake flap would be available and that was the one Arrowmen were expected to wear.
Outgoing Lodge Chiefs Jon Nelson and Ken Dewitt were key to finding ways to compromise and come together as one organization. Because of their continual service after the Lodge was formed, we consider both to be the “First Cahuilla Lodge Chief.” They would remain as Co-Chiefs through the remainder of 1973. At the Fall Ordeal, Karl Hartmetz became the first “elected” Cahuilla Lodge Chief, and we consider him to be the 3rd Lodge Chief overall.
The Council Office at this time appears to have remained at the Iowa Avenue office in Riverside2.
1974: A-tsa Lodge Joins Cahuilla
Grayback Council did not merge in 1973. Thus, it remained an “island” inside of the very large California Inland Empire Council. This changed 12 months later, in 1974, when Grayback and A-tsa Lodge # 380 were absorbed. A-tsa immediately became the A-tsa Chapter.
The California Inland Empire Council would also move it’s office permanently to Redlands, California. The location at this time was an office on Highland Avenue.
The selection of candidates for the Vigil Honor continued to be an issue. After candidates had been severely restricted for years, the Lodge was polarized into separate camps.
A group called Concerned Arrowmen of Cahuilla Lodge put much of this to print and members received mailings about these issues.
Supreme Chief of the Fire John Dudley then elected to require the Lodge to fill their Vigil quota. On May 4, a large portion of the Lodge Executive Committee chose to resign in protest. This marked a low point for Cahuilla Lodge and proof that the issues that arose from the 1973 merger had not been resolved. The protest was also unfortunate, because the Supreme Chief of the Fire has always had the right to make these types of decisions. The Scout Executive approves a Lodge being chartered in the first place.
1978: New Beginnings
New Lodge Doug DeWitt did something few could do before; he unified the Lodge. It helped that he was from Sunnymead (now Moreno Valley), away from the power bases in Riverside and San Bernardino. Many leaders came together and realized that it was time to put old issues away and move forward.
One change that did happen in 1978. Doug realized he was turning 21 and seeked counsel from his Adviser, Marv Goffman. It was decided, to make sure Cahuilla did not have a 21 year old Lodge Chief, that the next elected Lodge Chief, Peter Juran, would take office immediately and his term would run to the next Fellowship. This would be the birth of the September to August fiscal year that Cahuilla Lodge used for the next 24 years.
Many thanks to the following Arrowmen whose contributions to these sections were priceless: Doug Dewitt, Ken Dewitt, Jon Nelson.Last updated: April 6, 2020 at 14:55 pm