Buffalo Child Long Lance | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Buffalo Child Long Lance

Buffalo Child Long Lance, writer, actor, impostor (born Sylvester Long at Winston-Salem, North Carolina on 1 December 1890; died in Arcadia, California on 20 March 1932). Of mixed Indigenous and white (and possibly black) ancestry, he was able to escape the segregated southern US because he looked "Indian."

Presenting himself as a Cherokee, Long Lance gained entry to the famous Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. As "Sylvester Long Lance" he fought in the Canadian Army during the First World War and then settled in Calgary. In the early 1920s he worked for several western Canadian newspapers.

Adopted by the Kainai (Blood) as Buffalo Child in 1922, he began a freelance writing career as Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance. In 1928 he published his fictitious "auto-biography," Long Lance, which won acclaim as a Blackfoot reminiscence of growing up in the last days of freedom on the plains. In 1930 he starred in The Silent Enemy, a feature film about northern Canadian Indigenous peoples before the Europeans.

Long Lance's fortunes turned as rumours of his true origins began circulating and early in 1932 he took his own life.

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