Out & Back with Alison Mariella Désir

Out & Back with Alison Mariella Désir

Alison Mariella Désir explores the Pacific Northwest with the change-makers who are reclaiming space, creating awareness and delivering access for the health and well-being of BIPOC communities in the region.

How Black riders helped protect our National Parks

Alison saddles up with Geordan Newbill, president of Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle, to discuss the organization and the history of servicemen of color.

Alison Mariella Désir grew up listening to Bob Marley’s song, reciting the lyrics but having no idea what they meant. Who were the Buffalo Soldiers? Why were they significant enough to write a song about? And if they were so significant, why didn’t she learn about them in school?

It wasn’t until adulthood that Alison realized that schools in America teach an incomplete history. Most often, the stories of Black people are omitted and erased despite their immeasurable value. The Buffalo Soldiers were six all-African American United States Army regiments formed in the 19th century to serve on the American frontier: the 9th and 10th cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st infantry regiments. In 1869, the four infantry regiments were reorganized to form the 24th and 25th infantry regiments.

While African Americans had fought in many military conflicts since colonial days, the Buffalo Soldiers, composed of former slaves, freemen, and Black Civil War soldiers, were the first to serve during peacetime. The Buffalo Soldiers were also among the first protectors of what would eventually become the National Parks, including Sequoia and Yosemite in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. 

Despite their service to the country, they were still treated as second-class citizens. Buffalo Soldiers often received secondhand uniforms, the poorest-quality horses and the worst equipment.

In this episode, Alison meets with Geordan Newbill, president of Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle, and takes her first horseback riding lesson with Jerome Young, a Black rancher and owner of Legends Horse Training & Boarding Facility. Alison learns the forgotten history of Black riders and how the Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle are working to inspire the next generation of riders.