Our History

A tradition for over 85 years…

Joe Friday and KeltnerThe first Indian Guides program was initiated by Harold S. Keltner of the St. Louis YMCA in 1926. He organized the first tribe in Richmond Heights, Missouri with the help of his friend, Joe Friday, an Ojibwa Indian.

As Joe Friday and Mr. Keltner sat around a blazing campfire, Mr. Friday said: “The Indian father raises his son. He teaches his son to hunt, track, fish, walk softly and silently in the forest, know the meaning and purpose of life and all he must know.”

These comments struck home, and Harold Keltner arranged for Joe Friday to work with him at the St. Louis YMCA.

The Ojibwa Indian spoke before groups of boys and dads in St. Louis, and Keltner discovered that fathers, as well as boys, had a keen interest in the traditions and ways of the American Indian.

At the same time, he conceived the idea of a father and son program based upon the strong qualities of American Indian culture and life — dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, feeling for the earth and concern for the family.

Thus, the Indian Guides Program was born.Indian Guides Patch

The father and son “Indian Guides” program was developed to support the father’s vital family role as teacher, counselor, and friend to his son.

After World War II, the success of the father/son program nurtured the development of other parent-child programs, including the father/daughter program, called “Indian Princesses”. Indian Princesses Patch

For over 85 years, the program has been the cornerstone for family programs across the country, spreading out to found many independent parent and child programs.