From Thu Oct 26 10:09:57 2000
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 03:28:15 -0400
From: Art McGee <>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] The Shame Of The Buffalo Soldiers

The shame of the Buffalo Soldiers

By Mark P. Fancher <>, The Black World Today, 25 October 2000, rev.

The months of October and November bring two reminders of the brutal genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. For many indigenous peoples (often called Indians or Native Americans), Columbus Day and Thanksgiving are occasions of great sorrow.

The diary of Christopher Columbus discloses that when he first observed indigenous people, he said: “They ought to be good servants.” When a member of his crew later captured an indigenous woman, Columbus “gave” the woman to him. When this woman resisted rape with blows and fingernails, the attacker's diary says: “I took a rope and thrashed her well, for which she raised such unheard of screams that you would not have believed your ears.” When Columbus first arrived on the Caribbean island then-called Espanola in 1492, the indigenous population numbered approximately eight million. After a 20 year campaign of enslavement, torture and mass lynching, the population was reduced to 28,000—a decrease of 99 percent!

As for Thanksgiving, American Indian Movement leader Russell Means has explained that a proclamation made by the governor of Plymouth reveals that after a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women and children of a village of indigenous people, a holiday was proclaimed to give thanks for the massacre. The proclamation encouraged other colonies to do likewise.

Numerous massacres were to follow in later years throughout North America. At the Sand Creek massacre, the genitals of indigenous women were carved from their corpses and retained as souvenirs.

Having first-hand knowledge of the brutality of white colonizers in the western hemisphere, indigenous peoples identified immediately with the plight of enslaved Africans. Africans who managed to escape from plantations were often given refuge by indigenous nations. So many Africans married into indigenous nations that it is estimated that approximately 95 percent of Africans born in America have at least one indigenous ancestor.

Africans fought bravely as warriors. Africans formed military alliances with the Natchez nation, the Choctaws, the Ottawas, the Mohegan, and the Seminoles. Fierce, often successful battles were waged against racist white troops. The political and military solidarity between Africans and indigenous peoples has a long, rich history. Against this backdrop of honorable resistance to oppression, capitalist popular culture has nevertheless chosen to forget the Africans who fought for liberation shoulder-to-shoulder with the indigenous people. Instead praises are sung to the Black cavalrymen who have come to be known as the Buffalo Soldiers even though the Buffalo Soldiers participated willingly, or unwillingly in the slaughter of indigenous peoples.

This was not the last time that Africans were used as cannon fodder. Modern day Buffalo Soldiers were sent to put down a national liberation struggle in Vietnam. They were pitiful pawns in the invasions of Grenada and Panama. We can be sure that if the Pentagon decides to invade Africa, brothers will be a critical part of the battle plan. Honoring the Buffalo Soldiers conditions Africans to accept the idea of the oppressed fighting the oppressed for the benefit of the oppressor.

We Africans owe an apology to the descendants of indigenous people killed by the Buffalo Soldiers. We owe ourselves an independent analysis of history that will help us avoid serving the interests of capitalism to the detriment of other victimized peoples.