Posted by Paul Anderson on Oct 23, 2018
Former Tivy History Teacher and "History Coach" Clifton Fifer offered up fascinating historical information on the life and times of the famous Buffalo Soldier regiments of the United States Army.
Although several African American regiments were raised during the Civil War as part of the Union Army (including the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the many United States Colored Troops Regiments), the "Buffalo Soldiers" weren't officially established by Congress until after the Civil War. The Buffalo Soldiers, the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army, originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, formed in 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
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." Some sources assert that the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th Cavalry. Still other sources point to a combination of both legends. Another possible source could be from the Plains Indians (the Buffalo Soldiers served at Ft. Davis, in Texas, as well as other plains locations) who gave them that name because of the bison coats they wore in winter. The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all black 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 honored place in U.S. history.  Clifton also noted that the Buffalo Soldiers have fought for our country in every major war since the Civil War (where black regiments fought under a different moniker).
In addition to the origin stories of the famous group(s), Clifton involved a good number of Rotarians in games and songs prevalent during their heyday.  Here are just some of the pictures from last week's meeting (and like last week's speaker, Clifton was hard to get on camera because he was always on the move):
Clifton shows the group the buffalo hide coverings the soldiers would wear in the winter time, possibly giving rise to the nickname Buffalo Soldier from the Plains Indians.
Clifton serenades to group in a rendition of "Buffalo Soldiers," originally sung by the Doo-wop group The Persuasions.  This picture does not do him justice.  He really is an incredible singer.
Rotarians Todd Odom and Ingrid Painter assist Clifton in delivering an "authentic" American Indian music presentation.
Greg Appel gets the party started on his washtub bass!
Other Rotarians are inspired to action.  Who knew we had such musical talent in the club!?
Clifton also introduced tools and toys used during the times of the Buffalo Soldier - see below:
Witching Sticks - Need water anyone?
Jacob's Ladder - an amazing feat of early engineering!
Jon Sibert demonstrating the pull of the Hooey Stick.
Clifton Fifer demonstrating the right way to conduct the Wood Dancer.
Rotarian Paul Anderson demonstrating the wrong way (who let that guy up there!?)......
There was so much action, that it was impossible to document it all.  Thank you Clifton for such a riveting presentation!!