Today we spend the morning at the National Cowboy Museum, Oklahoma City, before commencing the next leg of our journey to Elk City. Outside it was cold – 57F – and inside wasn’t much warmer. Yet the spacious, pristine museum with its carefully selected exhibits and interpretation panels kept the cold at bay. It was predominantly a museum of white history of the area, covering rodeo history as well as ranching and pioneering. There were parade costumes and work clothes, extremely intricate detail on the saddles and other leather work. There were exhibits on how cowboys and First Nation Americans were portrayed on film, and in one of the rooms there was a small case of exhibits for ‘Buffalo Soldiers’. These guys were immortalized for me by Bob Marley and went on to become cowboys after they left the army; I’m glad they were represented in the museum, albeit a very small representation.
Buffalo Soldiers were originally members of the US 10th Cavalry Regiment but sources disagree on how the nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” began. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1877, the actual Cheyenne translation being “Wild Buffalo”, because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo’s coat. The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all African-American soldiers. It is now used for U.S. Army units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry units whose service earned them an honoured place in U.S. history. On September 6, 2005, Mark Matthews, who was the oldest living Buffalo Soldier, died at the age of 111. He was buried at. Arlington National Cemetery. What a life he must have had!
There’s that party game you can play where you tell everyone who the five people are you would most like to meet in heaven – he’s one of mine. Who would your five be?