A Man Called Buck (Page 4)

Written by Koshare R. L. Champion in 1977

Burshears meets with Koshares before a show (1954)

It must be noted that Buck Burshears has never accepted one cent in recompense for his lifetime of over 45 years of service. A comment is necessary regarding the international reputation which Mr. Burshears has built as an authority on the American Indian and their ceremonial dancing. He and his dancers have been invited to Europe and Australia. Magazine articles about the Koshares have appeared in Time, Life, Reader's Digest, This Week, Boy's Life, American, Scouting, and National Geographic, to name a few.

The book, Behind the Zuni Mask, is the slightly fictionalized story of an episode which actaully occurred in 1956. In their Winter Night Ceremonials, the Koshares were performing the Shalako, a great Kachina dance of the Zuni. The Zuni objected and Buck immediately sent tickets for two Zuni leaders to travel to La Junta on the Super Chief. After witnessing the boys' performance, the Pueblo leaders maintained that their dance was sacred and should never be performed by anyone else. After conferences, the Koshares agreed, not only to stop performing this dance, but also to give all of their Shalako costumes to the Zuni. The Zuni graciously accepted, and a deep and abiding friendship was established; it continues to this day. This story is indicative of the mutual respect and admiration between Buck and the Koshares and most American Indians. In 1971, The American Indian Lore Association presented their national 1971 Catlin Peace Pipe Award to Mr. Burshears for outstanding interpretation of Indian Lore.

Almost any summer night the Kiva turns into a dormitory for Boy Scout groups on their way to or from the great Philmont Scout Ranch. These thousands of visitors each summer, boys and leaders alike, are truly inspired by what has been accomplished by one man's vision and his ability to gather and lead a group of ordinary men and boys -- just like you and me -- to achievements far above the ordinary.

Obviously, one man cannot do it all. The Koshare Indian Dancers long ago became a community effort. Many adult leaders are involved. The amazing thing is the ability of Buck Burshears to attract and guide a faithful dedicated cadre of men and women to execute this program. There is a slow but continuous change in the leadership -- except for Buck; he and the guiding principles remain constant.

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