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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: Ain't technology amazing?
In Response To: Ain't technology amazing? ()

Another excellent posting Tom, I should have known John would find such an excellent sighting, and second all the praise you have heaped on him, I know this first hand as I am with him here in LA county, and ride proudly with him as a member of the “New Buffalo Soldiers”.

These sightings are wonderful and reveal a wealth of information. Your sightings Tom show several key things. Much of it speaks to the cavalry; I think perhaps two sightings alluded to the infantry regiments. The majority of them are much later in the Indian Wars then historians have the term being introduced. You would have thought that there would have been earlier sightings in the 70’s, (most historians have said the term was given between 1867 and 1869, yet the earliest sighting is that of Francis Roe. It must be noted that she is referencing a year she heard mention of the term in her memoirs written in the early 1900’s). The only other 70’s sighting is ’78, a decade after the term was said to be introduced. One would think that after the Red River War of ’74, and all the campaigning done by the Black Regulars, there would be more sightings from that period through ‘79.

Another interesting piece among the sightings is the attitude of the Nations toward the “Buffalo Soldiers”, which seems to be known all to well by the white population, “Intense hatred and Supreme contempt” are not endearing terms.

The below posting was interesting as well. It stayed with me, so much so that I contacted my Great Aunt, who is of some prestige among her Clan on the San Carlos Indian Reservation, and I spoke with some local Apache’s as well, about what they felt Ms. Davis meant by her statement, and what would have been the true translation for the statement, “Buffalo Soldier no shoot”. Every one seemed to believe the same thing. Ms. Davis misinterpreted what the Apache meant when they said “Buffalo Soldiers no shoot”. No shoot, does not speak to the marksmanship of the Soldiers. It addresses an attitude or a certain sentiment the soldiers had upon witnessing the plight of the Apache’s on San Carlos. A sentiment the Apache seemed to be were aware of and took full advantage of. Life lived on this reservation was under the harshest condition. These soldiers who were guards would have witnessed depredations against the Apache that would have affected the entire population of warrior’s, men, old men, women and children forced to reside there. I believe this is an area were upon witnessing the plight of the Apache’s, the soldiers would have, as individuals collectively taken a “non action” against Apache’s who they deemed non threatening; who for all intense and purposes were escaping certain slow death due to starvation and exposure, a result of inadequate provisions provided by the U.S. Government. This circumstance is not to be confused with any sentiment the soldiers would have had against the Apache in the field, or how they viewed the Nation off the reservation. The record shows that they were far from civil with each other.

(1885 May 26, letter from Helen Davis to Alice Grierson (wife of Col Benjamin Grierson, commander of the l0th Cavalry):
"The five companies of cavalry left a week ago to catch those Indians 50 in number, that left San Carlos Agency to do as they pleased because as they said, "buffalo soldier no shoot." They do not seem to think very highly of the colored soldiers fighting powers.")

The sightings also show that it is the white population that is “using” the term. This is revealing as well. Could it be that if the soldiers were aware of its usage that they themselves thought it a derogatory and demeaning term? Again courts martial records show that soldiers clearly did not like being called a “Buffalo”, nor did they appreciate the term being applied to them in any way.

Though one of the sightings, (1892), reference’s Buffalo Soldiers “fighting nobly”, where does the record show that Black Troops fought more courageously or nobly than their White counterparts? In the beginning, I believe the reference to the Buffalo by the Nations to describe the Black Soldier had nothing to do with the “Spirit” of the animal so sacred to the Plains Indian, but the exterior comparison with something that was familiar with the Nations. A two legged who had the dark complexion and the nappy, curly hair of a revered four legged animal that roamed the plains. Do not misinterpret what is said here. I am not saying the Black Regulars were not excellent fighters as soldiers in frontier army go. Neither am I saying, that they did not show courage under fire. Twenty three Medals of Honor were won and awarded to the 4 regiments to include the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts. The truth is the frontier army, “man against man”, Black or White, did not stack up to the warriors of the Nations.

I racked my brain to find another instance in history were a derogatory term would find itself later a term of endearment. I knew in the back of my mind that there was one. A discussion with Bennie revealed a classic example; it was like being punched full in the face by Cassius Clay it was so evident.

We both remembered a time when the term “Black” was frowned upon. Negro or Colored were acceptable terms used to describe the race by Whites as well as Blacks. Enter the 60’s and Stokely Carmichael, formally the late Kwame Toure, H. “Rap” Brown, Angela Davis, the Black Panthers, SNCC and host of other pro- Black and militant organizations who would re-write the definition of the term as it was before applied to the Negro. These individuals and organizations would reintroduce this term and change forever the way Blacks would look at its usage and more importantly how that race would view and evaluate it self. Black would translate into, Black, Bold and Beautiful.

There is no “Smoking Gun” when it comes to pin pointing the point of acceptance of the term “Buffalo Soldier” by the Black Regulars. Clearly it did not happen over night and its birth was not heralded by the collected voices of the companies of the regiments of Black Troops being dismissed from a formation. We do however know for sure that in the early 1900’s, the 10th Cavalry for some years prior to adopting the Buffalo as its distinctive unit insignia or crest had in fact embraced the term.

Messages In This Thread

Ain't technology amazing?
Re: Ain't technology amazing?
Re: Ain't technology amazing?

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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