Cowboys have made an enduring mark on the American popular imagination, but not every cowboy is a buckaroo. Buckaroos represent a special part of cowboy culture, which has its roots in Spanish and Moorish (Islamic) tradition.
The Spanish introduced the rancho system to Mexico and conscripted Mestizos, Indios, and Africans as workers. The ways of those early vaqueros, who followed the Spanish tradition of herding cattle from horseback, spread across Mexico and the American Southwest. Vaquero (Spanish for one who works with cows, or vacas) was eventually anglicized to "buckaroo." Today, buckaroos work almost exclusively from horseback and are renowned for their extensive horse training methods.
Visit the Buckaroo Traditions of Oregon exhibit online or in person at Oregon Folklife Network, located in the UO Knight Library, room 242.
Exhibit produced by the Oregon Folklife Network