The Buffalo Soldiers played a key role in the early development and management of our national parks, and their story provides a key connection between communities of color and our public lands. In an effort to strengthen this connection, the National Park Service is conducting a study to increase public awareness and understanding of Buffalo Soldiers in the early history of the agency, promote awareness and relevancy of the National Park Service within African American communities, and enhance historical research, education and public awareness related to the Buffalo Soldiers.
Public insights and comments can be submitted through December 31, 2016 at the following:
Click here to submit comments to the Buffalo Soldiers Study.
The study seeks comments about:
1. What are the most interesting aspects of the Buffalo Soldiers story to you?
2. How could the National Park Service enhance current efforts to commemorate and tell the story of the Buffalo Soldiers? (i.e., interactive online maps and other information, ranger-led tours, school programs, interpretive trails, etc.)?
3. What is being done outside the National Park Service to tell the story of the Buffalo Soldiers (i.e., reenactment groups, Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club chapters, etc.)?
4. Do you have other ideas or comments you would like to share with us about what can be done to enhance current efforts to tell the Buffalo Soldiers story?
The National Park Service hopes to complete the study in late 2017.
Six, all-black regiments established by Congress in1866, the Buffalo Soldiers were created to help rebuild the country after the American Civil War and to patrol the remote western frontier. As some of the first “rangers,” they patrolled the backcountry, built trails, stopped poachers, and protected parks like Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks before the National Park Service was created. In addition, their contributions at Fort Laramie (Wyoming), Fort Leavenworth (Kansas), and other military sites helped make these sites significant for inclusion in the National Park System.
The Buffalo Soldiers were assigned to defend Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks from poachers and timber thieves in 1899, 1903, and 1904, well before the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916. Their commanding officer, Charles Young, is the first African American superintendent of a national park, Sequoia. The Buffalo Soldiers also have documented activity in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.