Isaiah Norman frowned and stopped the forward progress of his horse. Norman was the only black soldier on this expedition into Indian Territory and the Indian Wars were still raging on violently in this area of Texas, late in the year of 1876. He was a member of the all-black Cavalry, often referred to as the Ninth Colored Cavalry, and he was on loan to the Seventh Cavalry because he was the best tracker in the Ninth and the Seventh's tracker had been killed in a skirmish, just a week ago. He was riding at the point position, about a dozen yards ahead of a long column of soldiers and, although trail-weary, he was becoming extremely wary. Norman had been taught, as a tracker, by his father, a slave who had been brought over from Africa in 1830, and then, after marrying a Sioux Indian, by his brother-in-law, an expert tracker, who had greatly added to Norman's already vast tracking expertise. Norman held his arm out and raised his hand slightly and the column, of over a hundred soldiers, came to an abrupt halt. He slid off his mount and, grabbing the reins, walked slowly down the ravine that the company was heading towards.
* * *
Norman glanced back at the commanding officer, Captain Ashley Lee, who was heading this mission up, and scowled. The man had been a slave-owner himself, from the Virginia territory, and he showed Norman absolutely no respect, even though he knew the importance of a tracker of Norman's ability and experience, to this mission. They also used Indians as trackers, but they were disdained just as much by the majority of the officers, and most of the enlisted men. Norman knew that the white armies were there to protect the innumerable white settlers' homesteading the vast acreage of the western plains, many traveling long distances from the east coast, and he also knew that the only thing standing in their way of seizing every parcel of land and the wealth found therein, were the Indian tribes living on those lands.
Norman had married a Sioux and had been planning to travel north, towards Canada, where, it was rumored they could live a free life, as opposed to the terrible conditions most of the Indian tribes were being subjected to when enclosed on a reservation, which the army was forcing all the tribes to live on. Isaiah Norman could feel it in his bones now, they were being watched, probably by Apache Indians, but what was he going to do about it? He exhaled a lungful of air and remounted his horse, then looked back at the platoon commander and yelled, "We have to go back Cap-tin Lee it looks like a trap."
The captain laughed and signaled for his men to continue onward, but almost as soon as they started up again, an arrow entered the captain's chest and his lifeless body slumped forward, when arrows and bullets began cutting the column to shreds, as a band of over 200 renegade Apaches fell quickly upon the now hapless Seventh Calvary.
Bloody Knife lived up to his name, as he moved from one soldier-coat to the next, taking scalps as he went. He came to Isaiah Norman and stopped when he noticed the tribe's Shaman, the medicine man, Medicine Bear, standing in his way. He told Bloody Knife that it was bad medicine to scalp a buffalo soldier, so called because of the texture of their hair, which resembled that of the hair between a buffalo's horns, and Bloody Knife stopped his carnage, asking Medicine Bear why it was considered bad medicine to scalp a buffalo soldier.
"Ah, Bloody Knife, they are not as the white soldier-coats are, they have been slaves themselves to the white-eyes, and the Great Spirit would have us leave them in peace."
Bloody Knife grunted his approval and took his knee from where it had been, on Isaiah Norman's chest. That was when he first heard Norman groan and realized that he was still alive, when Norman opened his eyes and stared at Bloody Knife and Bloody Knife saw that there was no fear in Norman's eyes. Norman began speaking to him in the Sioux dialect and Medicine Bear called to a Sioux brave named Black Hawk, who was riding with them, as he had escaped from a group of soldiers who had been transferring a number of his band to a reservation in Arizona. He had joined up with the Apaches and they were now making plans to attack the reservation in Arizona to free Black Hawk's wife and family. All the Indian tribes knew of the great chief Sitting Bull's fight to leave the plains of Texas for happier hunting grounds and it was rumored that he had fled to the north, into Canada, shortly after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Black Hawk talked with Isaiah Norman and learned that he was married to Black Bird, a Brule' Sioux and was the brother-in-law of Slow Bear, a respected and fearless tracker, who had recently been killed on a reservation, shot by a soldier-coat. After telling of his plans to escape to Canada with his wife and tribe, it was decided later that same day, by the Apache tribal council, that if the buffalo soldier wished to accompany them he was welcome to, as they were going to attempt to travel north themselves, in an effort to join up with Tatanka Iyotanka, Sitting Bull.
Isaiah Norman helped guide the Apache tribe to Canada that year, where he joined up with Black Bird and the remainder of her tribe, which soon became his tribe. He lived there until his death, at age eighty-four, leaving behind three children, two sons, Bison and Black Bear, and a daughter, Little Black Shawl. Isaiah Norman's Indian name was the one given to the black soldiers, Buffalo Soldier, and if you talk to any of his clan, even to this very day, they will tell you many happy stories of his remembrance.