What is the night sky to the Buffalo Soldier? Some of the soldiers had been slaves. The stars were a reminder of “freedom in Heaven” for which they prayed to escape their earthly bonds. For others, the stars had guided their steps to freedom in the light of the North Star. Some of the soldiers had been part of the USCT (United States Colored Troops) during the Civil War and the stars gave them peace and solace after a day’s battle. After the war, the soldiers’ mission changed and they would help develop the West as “Buffalo Soldiers.” In their encounters with Native Americans, the soldiers were taught the stories of the people’s creation as pointed out among the stars. The buffalo, bow, arrows, and other life-sustaining elements were honored among the stars. The stars are forever and so was their reverence. The shooting stars of the Plains skies entertained the soldiers as they remembered the stories from elders about the ancestors (stars) looking down on them. This was comforting to them as they fell asleep under the watchful eyes of the “ancestors/stars.” Using the stars and constellations as “guides”, the Buffalo Soldiers successfully navigated the unique terrain of the West and developed its potential.
- Angela Holder for the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, 2020