Africans and The Making of the Americas: Part 3, Herding

Residents of the vast savanna region of West Africa; notably the Mandinka, Wolof, Fulani, Hausa, and Nupe began raising cattle at least as early as 4000 B.C. Those who came to the essential because Europeans had no experience with the conditions presented by the Americas, where there was abundant land and small labor force. Africans, on the other hand, were adept at managing large numbers of herders. (The Fulani in particular have long been legendary for their ability to identify every member of a large herd and to know immediately whether an animal is missing.) Not surprisingly, Africans were in great demand in all areas of the Americas where ranching was major activity, and they introduced the patterns of the open grazing now practiced throughout the Americas. Both the harvesting of cattle drive were adapted from African practices. In addition, Africans were the first to use artificial insemination in cattle breeding and to use cow’s milk for human consumption.

Africans had tended cattle as slaves in the South, and slave owners brought them to Texas from other Southern states. In 1845, Texas had an estimated 100,000 Whites and 35,000 slaves. By 1861, the state had 430,000 Whites and 182,000 slaves. After the Civil War, African Americans played a major though seldom acknowledged role in the American expansion in the West. They were cowhands, gunslingers, cowboys and much more; men like Nat Love, Bill Pickett, One Horse Charley, Bronco Sam, George Glenn and Bose Ikard. In addition to a number of Western terms have been traced back to African origins. Bronco which means “rough” or “crude” in contemporary Spanish, derives from an African-language, term and was first used to denote African cattle handle.

Sources

https://sincereignorance.com/2014/08/06/black-americans-american-west-cowboys-towns-2/

https://sincereignorance.com/2014/08/06/black-americans-american-west-cowboys-towns/

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