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Y-Indian Guides collection

 Collection — Box: 1-2
Identifier: 117.10427
The Y-Indian Guides collection is a compilation of documentation and ephemera from the Lyons family, who participated in the Bay View YMCA and their Y-Indian Guides program during the 1960s. (Father Ed Lyon and son Dick went by the names “Big Hawk” and “Little Hawk,” respectively as members of the Ginisaga council.) Materials include council meeting reports, tally reports, activity reports, camp schedules, contact information, newsletters, and a group charter. Reports discuss meetings but also daily activities and observations about group events and activities. Additional scope and content information can be found in the Contents List section of this finding aid.

The use of the word “Indian” occurs throughout this collection due to the name of the organization at the time.

The Y-Indian Guides collection is arranged into three series, one of which has been further divided into subseries. The materials are housed in two archival document boxes.


  • 1963 - 1967


Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


0.25 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


The Y-Indian Guides collection is a compilation of council meeting reports, activity reports, camp schedules, newsletters, and other information from the Lyons family, who were involved with the Y-Indian Guides through the Bay View YMCA during the 1960s.

Historical Note

The Y-Indian Guides Program (also called YMCA Indian Guides) was founded in 1926 by Harold Keltner, director of the St. Louis chapter of the YMCA. Inspired by Ojibwa tribe member Joe Friday, Keltner sought to develop a program that would foster strong father-son bonds through basic life and outdoor survival skills. According to program literature, the concept was based on “strong qualities of American Indian culture and life—dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, harmony with nature and concern for the family.” The program grew to include mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons. Y-Indian Guides participated in various activities originally intended to honor Native Americans and their traditions.

Task forces and committees formed to examine the program’s themes and apparent cultural appropriation during the 1970s, and national guidelines remained largely unchanged for at least two decades. The program’s name had been modified several times, from YMCA Indian Guides, Princesses, Braves, and Maidens in its early years, to Y-Indian Guides or Y-Guides toward the end of the 20th century. In 2003, the YMCA’s national organization decided to officially change the program’s name to YMCA Adventure Guides and removed all references to “Indians” from guidebooks and activities. (Examples of language revision within the organization included changing parent-child “tribes” to “circles,” and “chiefs” to instead be called “navigators.”) In addition to responding to shifting attitudes about the usage of Native American themes and mascots by non-native peoples, the change in policy also meant to update the program and boost membership. As of 2019, Adventure Guides programs through the YMCA encourage parentchild interaction with group activities and outdoor pursuits to bond through shared experiences.

System of Arrangement

Series I: General camp information, 1963-1966 and n.d.

Series II: Newsletters and publicity, 1965-1966

Series III: Reports, 1965-1967 and n.d.

Subseries A: Camp activity reports, 1965-1967 and n.d.
Subseries B: Council reports, 1965-1967 and n.d.
Subseries C: Tally reports, 1965-1966

Custodial History

The Y-Indian Guides collection was donated to The Strong in December 2017 as a gift from the Edward S. Lyon Family. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under 117.10427. The papers were received from Janice Linn, along with various articles of clothing, instruments, awards, a trunk, and photographs documenting the Lyon family’s involvement with Y-Indian Guides through the Bay View YMCA (Activity ID 13389)

Related Materials

Along with this documentation, the Edward S. Lyon family donated several dozen photographs and objects from their involvement with the Y-Indian Guides program from the Bay View YMCA in the Rochester area. (These were accessioned under Activity ID 13389 and are tagged with the museum subject term “Indian Guides.”)


Finding Aid to the Y-Indian Guides Collection, 1963-1967
Cassidy Smith
6 August 2019
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)