I have seen a lack of consistency in the members of the AMM in how they handle assessing prospects. Some seem to be saying, a sponsor must camp with a prospect twice before considering any paperwork while others make their prospects wait a year or more before extending an invitation. They do this under the guise of “getting to know” the man. Some of these people seem to be “lording it over” their prospects to see how much they can get out of them before finally giving them the carrot they have been dangling.
According to the official application, the following is what is required: Methods of and Requirements for acceptance into membership (By-Laws Art. I)
A. Membership in this association is by invitation only. Invitations to join will be issued only after the prospective member has:
1. Been nominated by at least two (2) members holding Regular membership, Gray Beard membership or a combination of both, or by one (1) member holding Hiveranno membership.
2. Been interviewed IN PERSON by the member(s) making the nomination.
B. To be eligible for membership a prospective member must:
1. Be eighteen (18) years of age or older.
2. Have at least one muzzle-loading firearm with fixed sights or one hand made bow of a type and style used by American Indians. Said bow must have a pull of no less than thirty (30) pounds.
3. Have made at least a partial study of the lives and methods of the Mountain Men during the 1800-1840 era.
4. Show that he is willing to take an active part in the activities of the association.
C. All nominations must be in writing, listing what is known of the prospective member (interest, experience, etc.) plus any other interest which will help determine eligibility all letters of nomination must have printed on them the name, card number, membership type, and state of member(s) making nomination. At least one member making the nomination must sign the letter.
D. All nominations must be reviewed and recommended by the Brigade Booshway, then approved by the Territory Segundo. The nominee shall be accepted as a probationary member on the Territory Segundo’s approval.
1. The association Capitaine may approve nominees in place of any Segundo. All Foreign members must be approved by the association Capitaine.
As can be clearly seen from item A.2., a prospect needs only be “interviewed in person” by those making the nomination. Very simple. The following two years, “the probationary period” will determine the worth and intent of the candidate. If the pilgrim is not willing or able to complete the Bossloper requirements within the two-year period or does not demonstrate the desire to follow the organization’s standing rules and by-laws, the candidate will wash out and not make regular membership.
One of the joys/freedoms of local autonomy we have in the American Mountain Men is the ability to specify local rules or guidelines for each of our parties. If a party wants to require their prospects to camp with their party for a camp or two [or several] to introduce a prospective candidate to their membership, they can do that. WHAT THEY CANNOT DO, HOWEVER IS FORCE ANOTHER PARTY TO FOLLOW THEIR PARTY RULES!
In writing to a new prospect about making application to join the AMM, I included the following in part:
I am eager to get to know you better and help you along your way to membership in our organization. Bruce and I consider ourselves to be members of the Chouteau Party, Red River Brigade of the American Mountain Men, not AMM members who happen to live within the boundaries of the Red River Brigade and chum around as part of the Chouteau party. The old saying of “all politics are local” parallels our thought of loyalty to our party and its members first, then to the brigade [which is a geographic designation only] then to the organization as a whole. The men who sponsor you and the active members of your party, the men you camp, hunt, fish, and recreate with should be the priority over national issues.
I believe if a person adheres to the Standing Rules and By-laws of our organization, no one can condemn his actions. Those who walk outside of these rules are the ones worthy of condemnation.
Addendum: 6/15/2022 In discussing this topic with some of my closest associates in The American Mountain Men, we found a paragraph in our Standing Rules that seems to add to or even contradict the Pilgrim application. The paragraph follows:
C. Responsibilities of Sponsors
- Prospective members shall be deemed by their sponsor(s) to be men who whose
character, skills, knowledge, experience, and/or commitment make them worthy of joining the American Mountain Men. Sponsor(s) should invite a man to become a Pilgrim only after spending a sufficient amount of time on the ground with him to determine his qualifications.
- The task of Pilgrim sponsorship shall be performed entirely by the Pilgrim’s nominator(s) (as nomination is described within the By-Laws). The sponsor(s) shall be responsible for the education and behavior of the Pilgrim throughout his probationary period, ensuring that they understand and abide by the Association Code. (Amended January 24, 2021)
- A Bossloper may sponsor no more than one Probationary member at a time. A Hiveranno may sponsor no more than two Probationary members at a time. A Party may sponsor up to 3 Probationary members at a time.
- In the case of Party sponsorship, decisions regarding the Probationary member (whether to invite, to advance to Bossloper, etc.) shall be determined by a 2/3 majority vote of the Party members
The relative item here is section #1 including the statement “Sponsor(s) should invite a man to become a Pilgrim only after spending a sufficient amount of time on the ground with him to determine his qualifications.” This means to me, that the “interview IN PERSON” listed on the application form needs to be completed at a primitive camp and not over coffee at a local restaurant. I am glad for this clarification as it puts the applicant and potential sponsors in the natural elements where our association is designed to be. The phrase “sufficient amount of time” is subjective. For one man, that may be one camp. For another, ten camps may not be enough to garner an invitation to join. This is determined solely between the sponsors and prospect. As stated earlier, each party has the right to create their own guidelines for themselves. If a prospect washes out and doesn’t complete his minimum requirements within the two-year probationary period, generally, it is nobody’s fault but his own. His sponsors should re-evaluate the criteria they used to offer an invitation and the amount of guidance they extended to their prospect.
In all, most every man I know in this association is here because they want to study, learn and practice the skills of the early pioneers in the Rocky Mountains. If the desire to be a part of our association is there, a man should have the chance to participate, if not, he should decline the invitation and walk away.