How did the Buffalo Soldiers get their name and what does it mean?

Native Americans gave the troops the name, probably because they hadn’t seen many African Americans and thought the soldiers’ short, dark, curly hair resembled the mane of the buffalo.

The name was thought to be a sign of respect because the buffalo was an important animal to the Indians.

The name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1867, says the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the Cheyenne translation being “Wild Buffalo.”

The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all African-American soldiers, and is still in use today for units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments formed in 1866.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “How did the Buffalo Soldiers get their name and what does it mean?”

  1. Without african americans fighting in the Civil War my grampa would have still been a slave and his kids and thier kids wouldn’t have never been born. thank you buffalo soldiers.

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