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The Buffalo Soldiers

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers?

— Kevin L., Denver, CO

The U.S. Civil War Buffalo Soldiers

Black Americans who joined the US Cavalry after the Civil War (1861-1865) were nicknamed Buffalo Soldiers by Native American Indians in the Western United States because their hair is very curly, similar to the buffalo which was the most important animal resource for many Plains Indian tribes. This nickname was also given by the Plains Indians as a token of respect to these soldiers whom they encountered both in war and in peace.

The Term Buffalo Soldiers

This nickname was adopted by both black and white American soldiers and the nickname was used with much pride by black soldiers.

In recent history, the term Buffalo Soldiers has been adopted and used by African Americans and other black nationalities such as Jamaicans to denote special black and African pride. Many songs, artwork and other cultural expressions have referred to Buffalo Soldiers. One of the most popular references to the Buffalo Soldier is a song under the same name, performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers.


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