Chartered by Congress
The fraternity traces its origins back to 1765 and is descended from the Sons of Liberty. These patriots concealed their identities and worked "underground" to help establish freedom and liberty in the early Colonies. They patterned themselves after the great Iroquois Confederacy and its democratic governing body. Their system, with elected representatives to govern tribal councils, had been in existence for several centuries.
After the War of 1812 the name was changed to the Society of Red Men and in 1834 to the Improved Order of Red Men. They kept the customs and terminology of Native Americans as a basic part of the fraternity. Some of the words and terms may sound strange, but they soon become a familiar part of the language for every member. The Improved Order of Red Men (IORM) is similar in many ways to other major fraternal organizations in the United States.
The Improved Order of Red Men is a national fraternal organization that believes in…
- Love of and respect for the American Flag.
- Preserving our Nation by defending and upholding the principle of free Government.
- America and the democratic way of life.
- Preserving the traditions and history of this great Country.
- Creating and inspiring a greater love for the United States of America.
- Helping our fellow men through organized charitable programs.
- Linking our members together in a common bond of Brotherhood and Friendship.
- Perpetuating the beautiful legends and traditions of a once-vanishing race and the keeping alive some of the traditional customs, ceremonies, and philosophies.
Legally, The Improved Order of Red Men is a patriotic fraternity chartered by Congress. It is a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring a greater love for the United States of America and the principles of American Liberty.
The Improved Order of Red Men traces its origin to certain secret patriotic societies founded before the American Revolution. They were established to promote Liberty and to defy the tyranny of the English Crown. Among the early groups were: The Sons of Liberty, the Sons of St. Tammany, and later the Society of Red Men.
On December 16, 1773 a group of men, all members of the Sons of Liberty, met in Boston to protest the tax on tea imposed by England. When their protest went unheeded, they disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians, proceeded to Boston harbor, and dumped overboard 342 chests of English tea.
During the Revolutionary War, members of secret societies quenched their council fires and took up muskets to join with the Continental Army. To the cause of Freedom and Liberty they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. At the end of the hard fought war the American Republic was born and was soon acknowledged among the nations of the world.
Following the American Revolution many of the various secret societies founded before and during the conflict continued in existence as brotherhoods or fraternities.
For the next 35 years, however, each of the original Sons of Liberty and Sons of St. Tamina groups went their own way, under many different names. In 1813, at historic Fort Mifflin, near Philadelphia, several of these groups came together and formed one organization known as the Society of Red Men. The name was changed to the Improved Order of Red Men in Baltimore in 1834.
At Baltimore, Maryland, in 1847, the various local tribes came together and formed a national organization called the Grand Council of the United States.
With the formation of a national organization, the Improved Order of Red Men soon spread, and within 30 years there were State Great Councils in 21 states with a membership of over 150,000. The Order continued to grow and by the mid-1920s there were tribes in 46 states and territories with a membership totaling over one-half million.
Today, The Improved Order of Red Men continues to offer all patriotic Americans an organization that is pledged to the high ideals of Freedom, Friendship, and Charity. These are the same ideals on which the American nation was founded. By belonging to this proud and historic organization you can demonstrate your desire to continue the battle started at Lexington and Concord to promote Freedom and protect the American Way of Life.
To promote patriotism and the American Way of Life, to provide social activities for the members, and support various charitable programs. Our activities include:
- Flag Recognition Program — A program to honor those patriotic Americans who display the flag regularly.
- Faith Of Our Fathers Chapel — Chapel erected at Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to memorialize the ideals and principles of our founding fathers.
- Annual Pilgrimage To Faith Of Our Fathers Chapel — Annual meeting to renew and strengthen our beliefs in the American Way of Life.
- Children with Cognitive, Intellectual, and Developmental Disabilities Program — Support of various projects and programs of the ARC (formerly Association for Retarded Citizens) and Special Olympics.
- Red Men's Day At Arlington National Cemetery — Annual ceremony to honor our unknown soldiers and all brave Americans who have fallen in battle to protect our Freedom.
- Red Men's Week — Week of December 16th, designated as National Red Men's Week, commemorating the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
The National Charity project of the Improved Order of Red Men is Alzheimer's research. Since 1991, the Organization has given over two million dollars to the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's disease knows no social or economic boundaries; but it does incline heavily toward older people, affecting seven to nine percent of Americans over the age of 65, yet it strikes those in their 40s and 50s as well. Indeed, some of our own members have been stricken with this dreaded disease. Our members not only give generously, but work with local Alzheimer's Chapters across the nation.
Q. How do I become a member?
A. Contact a local tribe or member who will provide you with an application blank.
Q. What if there is no tribe in my town?
A. Contact the National Office IORM, 4521 Speight Ave., Waco, Texas 76711.
Q. Is it expensive to join?
A. No — The initiation fee and annual dues vary with the individual tribe's laws and the facilities that are offered.
Q. Must I memorize a large amount of unwritten or secret work?
A. No — You will be required to know the password and the secret signs of the Order, both of which may be learned in only a few minutes.
Q. Will I be required to wear Native American dress to the meetings?
A. No — The only time the Native American regalia is worn is during the Adoption Degree. Occasionally, the tribal officers may wear Native American costuming at various public affairs, but this is done with discretion.
Q. Do you have to be a Native American to belong?
Q. How is The Improved Order of Red Men associated with Native Americans?
A. Only through our customs, terminology, and rituals, which are patterned after early Native Americans.
Q. What are the primary purposes and beliefs of the Order?
A. The Motto, or precepts, of the Order are Freedom, Friendship, and Charity.
Freedom — We endeavor to preserve and uphold the American Way of Life and its guarantee of Liberty. Freedom has been the hope and aim of the oppressed of every land. It is now the proud boast of every American. We dedicated our lives to its maintenance.
Friendship — Is the binding link and unswerving loyalty of one to another, which makes sweet and lasting the relationship that one member bears to another.
Charity — Is giving with an open hand and willing heart in time of need, assistance to the weak or unfortunate and measured not by wealth but by moral worth. Charity exemplifies the Brotherhood of Man.
Q. What do you do at your meetings?
A. Our meetings are conducted much the same as any organization. Aside from our ritualistic opening and closing, the regular business of the tribe is conducted. Various projects are planned and discussed and regular programs are presented. Social affairs are apart from these.