Give thanks VoodooRuutz! I have learned something new! Found a bit more info on this:
AFRICAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO AMERICAN “COWBOY” CULTURE
The first major contribution by Africans to North American society was in the arena of cattle raising. When the Fulani (or Fula) people from Senegambia, along with longhorn cattle, were imported to South Carolina in 1731, colonial herds increased from 500 to 6,784 some 30 years later. These Fulas were expert cattlemen and were responsible for introducing African husbandry patterns of open grazing now practiced throughout the American cattle industry. Cattle drives to the centers of distribution were innovations Africans brought with them as contributions to a developing industry. Originally a cowboy was an African who worked with cattle, just as a houseboy worked in “de big House.” Open grazing made practical use of an abundance of land and a limited labor force.
Africans and their descendants were America’s first cowboys. Most people are not aware that many cowboys of the American West were Black, contrary to how the film industry and the media have portrayed them. Only recently have we begun to recognize the extent to which cowboy culture has African roots. Many details of cowboy life, work, and even material culture can be traced to the Fulani, America’s first cowboys, but there has been little investigation of this by historians of the American West.
Contemporary descriptions of local West African animal husbandry bear a striking resemblance to what appeared in Carolina and later in the American dairy and cattle industries. Africans introduced the first artificial insemination and the use of cows’ milk for human consumption. Peter Wood believes that from this early relationship between cattle and Africans the word, “cowboy” originated.
As late as 1865, following the Civil War, Africans whose responsibilities were with cattle were referred to as “cowboys’ in plantation records. After 1865, whites associated with the cattle industry referred to themselves as “cattlemen,” to distinguish themselves from the Black cowboys. The annual North-South migratory patterns the cowboys followed are directly related to the migratory patterns of the Fulani cattle herders who lived scattered throughout Nigeria and Niger. Not only were Africans imported with the expertise to handle cattle, but the African longhorn was imported as well, a breed that later became known as the Texas longhorn.
Much of the early language associated with cowboy culture had a strong African flavor. The word buckra (buckaroo) is derived from Mbakara, the Efik/lbibio work for “poor white man.” It was used to describe a class of whites who worked as broncobusters, bucking and breaking horses. Planters used buckras as broncobusters because slaves were too valuable to risk injury. Another African word that found its way into popular cowboy songs is “get along little dogies.” The word “doggies” originated from Kimbundu, along with kidogo, a little something, and dodo, small. After the Civil War when great cattle roundups began, Black cowboys introduced such Africanisms to cowboy language and songs.