"Buffalo Soldier" by Bodhi Smith

 
oh give me a home,
 
where the buffalo roam,
 
where the hawks and eagles are in flight...
 
where peace is the word,
 
and singing winds can be heard,
 
and the skies are always starry all night!
 
 
 
MY THOUGHTS
the buffalo is the ultimate symbol of majesty in the mythical old wild west. beautiful, regal, and powerful, gracing the great plains with their soulful presence for thousands of years. they've sacrificed so much, and i deeply respect and revere them for their resilience, and for their enduring spirit, the truest of all americans ― bodhi, the buffalo's soul
 
i've always desired to create a photographic impression that honors the spirit of the great buffalo on the wide open plains under the stars...and here it is...
 
because to me, the american bison (a.k.a the buffalo) is the single greatest symbolic symbol of the old american west. their once mighty herds could be found covering the great plains of the united states, hundreds of thousands of these majestic animals roaming around free to graze to their heart's content as much of the tall grasses of the prairies as they could eat. and when the buffalo would moved about, their massive numbers would sound off like thunder, rocking the ground under their powerful gait...
 
advice from a buffalo: stand your ground, have a tough hide, keep moving on, cherish wide open space, have a strong spirit, roam wild and free, and let the chips fall where they may ― anonymous
 
all of the native american tribes on the plains relied on the buffalo for their livelihood--food, shelter, oils, clothing. they moved where the buffalo herds moved and lived in harmony with the buffalo, never taking more than they needed from the buffalo. they treated the buffalo with high honor and esteem for their fighting spirit. all the native americans valued the buffalo as a valuable resource and a treasure. they were thankful for the buffalo and all the necessities they provided for them in their lives...to the native american the buffalo meant sacred life and the abundance of the creator's blessing on mother earth...with this relationship, nature was perfectly balanced between the life of the buffalo and the native american tribes...
 
it's truly a travesty and a deep shame what happened to the plight of both the buffalo and the native americans on the plains...
 
because in the middle part of the 19th century, the white man started moving westward from the eastern states under the infamous idea of manifest destiny...backed by the idea of using eminent domain to seize lands for public use, the u.s. congress passed the homestead act of 1862 to encourage people to move west and settle lands all the way to the pacific ocean. under the protection of the u.s. army, settlers were staking their claims and carving up the new frontier as their own property, putting up fences to mark their territory...
 
however, the nomadic native americans and wild buffalo herds were seen as problematic barriers by the white man, hindering the progress and desires to colonize the great american west, and ultimately settle the united states from "sea to shining sea"...
 
the federal government sent federal troops out into the frontier to protect settlers from the angry native americans tribes who just had all their lands stolen from them under the idea of eminent domain. knowing the native americans lived off the buffalo and needed them for their way of life and survival, and because the great herds of bison were seen as a nuisance for settlers, the federal government created a plan to clear out all the herds of buffalo...
 
the giant herds of bison did not adhere to new fenced-in property lines, often destroying them with their mighty numbers. this was used as the justification to exterminate them. so both soldiers and hunters alike (like william "buffalo bill" cody) were formally encouraged and rewarded to kill as many buffalo as the could by the united states government. as a result, buffalo would be shot and killed, skinned for their pelts, and left to rot in-place on the plains...
 
in only a few years, almost all of the buffalo were needlessly massacred, hundreds of thousands of animals senselessly killed for no reason other than "they were in the way of progress". the american bison was pushed close to the brink of extinction...but thankfully the meaningless slaughter was finally stopped and now the buffalo numbers have recovered some, but nowhere close to as many who used to roam the west before "manifest destiny"...
 
i know this is all a black eye in american history. i dearly wish it could have all been handled better and differently than the way it was ultimately settled...however, even through all of that negativity, i can imagine how lovely it must have been to be on the plains as a settler in the beginning (before it got violent and ugly)...
 
oh give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the hawks and eagles are in flight...where peace is the word and singing winds can be heard, and the skies are always starry all night! ― bodhi, where the buffalo roam
 
i can easily imagine how beautiful it was on the great plains with all the wildlife roaming about freely--the buffalo, deer, antelope, wolves, rabbits, prairie dogs, owls, eagles, and hawks. beautiful grasslands dotted with groves of trees for as far as the eye could see. no cities, no crowds, no pollution, no roads, no power lines or telephone poles. clean air, beautiful clear skies both day and night...just the wind, the buffalo, the milky way, and me...
 
now here's a folk song dating back to the 1800's sang by both settlers heading westward to homestead as well as cowboys on cattle drives. it's currently the kansas state song, and just after being elected president of the united states, franklin d. roosevelt declared it to be his favourite song: "home on the range" by john denver & the muppets.
 
oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play. where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day. home, home on the range where the deer and the antelope play. where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day...how often at night when the heavens are bright, i see the light of those flickering stars. have i laid there amazed and asked as i gazed, if their glory exceeds that of love. home, home on the range. where the deer and the antelope play. where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day ― john denver and the muppets, home on the range.
 
 
 
HISTORY OF THE BUFFALO SOLDIER
"buffalo soldiers" were united states army regiments formed during the 19th century to serve on the american frontier that were comprised of only african americans. on september 21, 1866, the 10th cavalry regiment was formed at fort leavenworth, kansas. the nickname "buffalo soldiers" was purportedly given to the regiment by native americans who fought against them in the american indian wars, and the term eventually became synonymous with all of the african american u.s. army regiments...

the name "buffalo soldier" was embraced by the african american soldiers, who were well acquainted with the buffalo's fierce bravery and fighting spirit. they often wore buffalo skins to help keep warm during the extreme weather known to hit the great plains states in the spring and winter months. the buffalo soldiers duties were settling railroad disputes, building telegraph lines, repairing and building forts, and otherwise helpingprotect settlers colonize lands taken from native americans...

"buffalo soldiers" were established by the united states congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the u.s. army. the regiments were racially segregated, as the u.s. military would not desegregate until 1948. on september 6, 2005, mark matthews, the oldest surviving buffalo soldier, died aged 111. he was buried at arlington national cemetery in washington d.c.

"buffalo soldier". is a reggae song written by bob marley and noel "king sporty" williams and recorded by the popular jamaican band, bob marley and the wailers. however, it did not appear on any of their record albums until the 1983 release of confrontation (posthumously, marley passed away from cancer in 1981). the tune became one of marley's best-known and loved songs. the title and lyrics refer to the black u.s. cavalry regiments, known as "buffalo soldiers", and marley embraced the term linked his and other african americans' fight as a fight for survival, and re-casted the term as a symbol of black resistance: "buffalo soldier" by bob marley & the wailers.

buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta. there was a buffalo soldier in the heart of america. stolen from africa, brought to america. fighting on arrival, fighting for survival. i mean it, when i analyze the stench, to me, it makes a lot of sense. how the dreadlock rasta was the buffalo soldier and he was taken from africa, brought to america. fighting on arrival, fighting for survival. said he was a buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta. buffalo soldier, in the heart of america. if you know your history, then you would know where you coming from. then you wouldn't have to ask me who the heck do i think i am. i'm just a buffalo soldier in the heart of America. stolen from africa, brought to america. said he was fighting on arrival, fighting for survival. said he was a buffalo soldier win the war for america. said he, woe yoy yoy, woe yoy yoy yoy. woe yoy yoy yo, yoy yoy yoy yo. woe yoy yoy, woe yoy yoy yoy. woe yoy yoy yo, yoy yoy yoy yo. buffalo soldier, troddin' through the land woah. said he wanna ran, then you wanna hand, troddin' through the land, yeah, yeah. said he was a buffalo soldier, win the war for america. buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta. fighting on arrival, fighting for survival. driven from the mainland to the heart of the caribbean. singing, woe yoy yoy, woe yoy yoy yoy. woe yoy yoy yo, yoy yoy yoy yo. woe yoy yoy, woe yoy yoy yoy. woe yoy yoy yo, yoy yoy yoy yo. troddin' through san juan in the arms of america. troddin' through jamaica, a buffalo soldier. fighting on arrival, fighting for survival. buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta. woe yoy yoy, woe yoy yoy yoy. woe yoy yoy yo, yoy yoy yoy yo. woe yoy yoy, woe yoy yoy yoy. woe yoy yoy yo, yoy yoy yoy yo... ― bob marley, buffalo soldier.
 
 
 
A COUPLE MORE QUOTES
if there be no place for wild buffalo in all of the west, then surely we have crossed a line between the last best place and the the once best place — jim bailey
 
all that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost ― j.r.r. tolkien, the fellowship of the ring

the buffalo is powerful medicine that is a symbol of sacrifice and service to the community. the buffalo is also a symbol of gratitude and honor as it is happy to accept its meager existence as it stands proud against the winds of adversity. the buffalo represents abundance of the creator's bounty and respect for all creation knowing that all things are sacred. the buffalo represents a manifestation of the divine aspects of our being. the buffalo teaches us how to eliminate our burdens by directing our energy in a balanced way ―
white wolf pack, buffalo medicine
 
a cow runs away from the storm, while the buffalo charges towards it and gets through it quicker...whenever i'm confronted with a tough challenge, i do not prolong the torment. i become the buffalo ― wilma mankiller, cherokee 
 
 
 
SPECIFICS ABOUT THIS PHOTO
just the wind, the buffalo, the milky way, and me ― bodhi, the buffalo  
 
this composition was created last summer as i slowly made my way back to california from visiting my relatives in ohio and oklahoma...it was taken on july 30th, 2023 in the high grasslands of the wichita mountains wildlife refuge on the western plains of oklahoma close to he city of lawton and the fort sill military base...
 
this impression consists of two compositions taken separately: one of the buffalo and surrounding landscape taken during blue hour at just after the sunset at 8:45pm cst (f/8@95mm for 1/15sec, iso-100)... and one that's an 11-shot panoramic composition of the full milky way arch taken in portrait orientation taken at 11:11pm cst (11 x (f'/1.4@24mm for 13secs, iso-2000))...the two compositions were then merged together into one picture using layers in adobe photoshop cc...
 
i wish to openly thank my sponsors who have always supported me through both the good and bad times...for truly this long exposure impression would not be possible without the use of my induro phq3 series 5-way panhead with an induro (now benro) stealth carbon fiber tripod. in combination with the progreyusa filters. which i use with every photo i take...
 
you were blessed with 84,600 seconds today, have you used one of them to say thank you? ― bodhi, blessed  
 
leave you today wishing that bright joy 
and spiritual peace fill your life...
imploring you to make every moment count, 
no matter what, always and forever, 
for that is the only thing that truly matters... 
 
and above all else,
i hope this message and impression find you well.
 
namaste,
bodhi
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