Picture: Grabill-The Cow Boy by John C. H. Grabill
You will find cowboys in many countries besides the U.S. They are often known by other names. A cowboy is someone that takes care of cattle and horses.
The American cowboy came from many areas. After the American Civil War the cattle industry became larger. They needed more cowboys. Soldiers from the Confederacy and Union army headed west. They were looking for work and they became cowboys. Many of the African-American freedmen became cowboys. Many of the Mexicans and American Indians became cowboys.
Some of the Indian boarding schools taught ranching after 1890. Many of the American Indians now own small cattle ranches. Many of them work as cowboys on larger ranches. The Indian cowboy was often seen riding in rodeos. Many of the American cowboys were of Mexican descent and African-Americans.
When you hear the word cowboy you might think of rugged men on horseback lassoing cattle and riding bulls. In the movies they are usually white men but over 25 percent of the cowboys and rodeo riders in the western days were African-Americans. They wanted to make a life for themselves in the west.
Some of the African American cowboys had experience from when they were slaves. If they were lucky they moved west on horse back but many of them went west on foot. Te Old West was a place where the African-American cowboy could make a place for himself.
Sources and credits: www.horsehints.org Picture courtesy of: wikimedia commons