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Friday, June 20, 2014

I Discover My Indian Name

As a person who is a bit more than one quarter Cherokee if you add up all my ancestors, I consider myself part Native American. My Indian ancestry comes from two sides of my family and I am married to a Scots-Irish-Ouachita woman (which is a whole other blog by itself). As a result, I've always kind of felt like I should have an Indian name. Trouble was, I could never figured out what it should be. Traditionally, in many of the tribes your name is given to you by the tribe.

I was thinking about this today and I suddenly realized that I had already been given my Indian name and by people I still remember fondly as my "tribe".

It was back in the 80s, when I was working at Odyssey Harbor. I ran the equestrian program and was in the saddle all day long, leading strings of troubled kids with mental and physical disabilities out onto the trails on horseback every day. We were like hunting parties or something - me and my string of mounted Wahoos!

One day one of the kids told me that the boys had a nickname for me. I asked what it was. His answer made me laugh.

Buffalo Butt".

 I suppose, riding along behind me for all those hours, the name had sort of jumped out at them. We Kings are, admittedly, a bit haunchy. We're built with long torsos and short thick legs and well established gluteals. We're like Weebles. We may wobble, but with our low centers of gravity, we don't fall down. I kind of grinned. My middle son, who was also amply haunched, they called Little Buffalo. 

For a long time I used to stamp my letters with a rubber stamp of a buffalo. I think I may resume the practice. I kind of like the name they gave me. Oddly enough, it was an expression of respect and affection I think. I loved those boys and I think they understood that.

© 2014 by Tom King

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