AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Re: Name origins
In Response To: Name origins ()
Bennie, Tom, et. al.
This is great-I love an open forum without the wrangling. Later today, I will try and check my sources and give the dates as well, though I am sure they are later than Tom's.
Re: the attitude about comparing the soldier's hair with that of the buffalo. Looking at the Northern Plains, and the fact that the Black Regulars were often more aware of native beliefs than some of their counterparts, this may have been considered an honor rather than an insult. Remember that the Buffalo was revered and in some societies, sacred. I am thinking in particular of conversations that I had with a good friend, Bill TallBull, an elder who was the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Historian, and taught Cheyenne culture at Dull Knife Com. College for the tribe. The buffalo was much more than a source of food-it embodied all that the Cheyenne respected and revered-Courage, tenacity,strength,family values. The medicine society devoted to the buffalo was the most powerful in the tribe. Anyone who was exposed to that belief would not have been insulted by a comparison.
I find I have to continually remind myself that when I read things written during years past, to not read into them my own responses/reactions. There are times, when I get so furious at atrocities, injustices, and things that were ignored-because they didn't fall under the radar of the dominant society-that I have to get up and walk it off till I can calm down. Then, when I go back it's easier to pick out the differences.
The problem with the coats is that they were issued to Black and White soldiers alike. It's an obvious point of comparison-but will it hold up to scrutiny? On another note-remember that a lot of tribes made reference to White people as "ghosts" or "witches" because of the paleness of their skin and eyes. Blue eyes in particular terrified some natives. First person encounters of various tribes with explorers, soldiers and others (Caucasian) almost invariably make some reference to the LACK of color, and a negative reaction to it. That wouldn't be there with the Black soldiers, but the hair differences would be noticed. We may never know the true origins of the nickname, but I think we are getting closer.