The Passing of Buffalo Tiger

National Indian Gaming Association Recognizes the Passing of Buffalo Tiger

The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) is saddened by the passing of Buffalo Tiger, one of the founders of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians. At the age of 94, Buffalo made his journey on to the spirit world January 6, 2015. The former Miccosukee Chairman and advocate for Native self-determination was a revered leader.

Buffalo's legacy is abundant with accounts of protecting tribal sovereignty and its inherent rights. The federal government took notice of Buffalo's persistence in the 1950s after relentless efforts to establish the Miccosukee Tribe had fallen on deaf ears in Washington, DC. He worked with state and federal leaders to institute reforms to protect tribal culture and their natural resources. With the continued determination of Buffalo and others, the federal government recognized the tribe in 1962. He was elected as the tribe's first chairman from 1962 to 1985 after serving as Chief since 1957.

Buffalo was adamant about tribes controlling their own futures. Taking advantage of President Richard Nixon's Indian Self-Determination initiative, the Miccosukee took control of their social and educational programs, leading to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975. As a liaison between tribes and the governments, Buffalo served on theFlorida Governor's Council on Indian Affairs and was an officer on the board member of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) for 17 years. His influence was felt wherever he went.

"Whether it is the days of USET, his active involvement in Washington, DC or his Florida homelands, Buffalo Tiger was a key part of tribal sovereignty and native communities. As we move forward we must remember the ways of Buffalo. He helped us prepare for the work we are doing today," said Chairman Stevens, "and we must also prepare our future generations to carry on his legacy."

The vision Buffalo had for USET is still nobly being upheld today. As reported, USET President Brian Patterson reflected on Buffalo's passing by saying, "We grieve the loss of a truly great leader, who will be loved and missed...we are thankful for the courage and medicine Buffalo Tiger gave us to advance Tribal nations and inspire future generations. For the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and all of Indian Country, Chairman Tiger was a trailblazer to help bring federal recognition and assistance for his Tribe, a founding leader of USET, and an inspiration that there is hope beyond the darkness. The USET family is saddened by Chairman Tiger's passing and stand proud that his moccasins left many of the foot prints we follow and work to fill today."

NIGA celebrates the life of Buffalo Tiger.