Improved Order of Red Men From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"The Improved Order of Red Men is a fraternal organization established in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834. Their rituals and regalia are modeled after those used by Native Americans. The organization claimed a membership of about half a million in 1935, but has declined to less than 38,000."
The order itself claims direct descent from the Sons of Liberty, noting that the Sons participated in the Boston Tea Party dressed as Native Americans. Thus, they continue to dress as Native Americans and are organized into tribes and such.Their ladies' auxiliary is the Degree of Pocahontas.
In the late 1700s, social and benevolent Tammany Societies, named after Tamanend, were formed. The most famous of these was New York City's Society of St. Tammany, which grew into a major political machine known as "Tammany Hall." Around 1816, a disenchanted group created the philanthropic "Society of Red Men". From this, the "Improved Order of Red Men" was later formed as a working man's drinking group similar to the Odd Fellows fraternal organization.In 1886 its membership requirements were defined in the same pseudo-Indian phrasing as the rest of the constitution:
Sec. 1. No person shall be entitled to adoption into the Order except a free white male of good moral character and standing, of the full age of twenty-one great suns, who believes in the existence of a Great Spirit, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and is possessed of some known reputable means of support.
Improved Order of Red Men official site
"The bylaws also state, “310. North American Indians are not eligible to membership.—IV, 36,34. 311. Descendants of the Indian race are eligible to membership.—IV, 326.” Two such members were re-admitted in 1874 to the Opekasset Tribe, No. 122, of Pennsylvania after appeal to the Grand Council of the United States. Their original rejection was probably an error in the interpretation of the two bylaws, as it is likely that the IORM did not wish to accept Native Americans into their order because they already belonged to real tribes that the palefaces, now Red Men, emulated, and they may not have wished to supplant the authority of those real tribes. Nevertheless, the Robeson County, NC, Red Man’s Lodge around 1920 was composed of American Lumbee Indians who had the unique position of participating in the anachronistic IORM while preserving their own real tribe—“Looking back while walking forward.” “The Red Men’s Lodges were fraternal orders that developed in Robeson County’s Indian communities in the early 1900s. Prominent Indians in each community were members, and meetings were held monthly in private homes, schools, or (in Pembroke) in separate buildings. The lodges had secret ceremonies and rituals. The members marched in parades and participated in funerals, but ‘one of their main functions was to maintain social order in the tribe.’ ”