“In the long run, it all works out. You listen to people, you give them an answer, they may not like it but you do your best. That’s all you can do in life.”
Lloyd Buffalo, Business Committee Member, celebrates over 50 years of service working with the Quapaw Nation and surrounding tribes.
Mr. Buffalo serves on the Downstream, Quapaw, and Saracen Casino governing boards and has held many other roles during his service: Enrollment and Cemetery Committees, Tribal Administrator for the Modoc Tribe, Liaison for the Seneca-Cayuga, Ottawa, Miami, and Wyandotte Tribes, and more.
Lloyd was elected to the Quapaw business Committee in 1970 and has worked with the local tribes for the past 51 years. Along with the late Harry Gilmore, he is one of only two individuals who served as Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary-Treasurer, and member of the Business Committee.
During his years of service, Mr. Buffalo played an instrumental role in constructing the first Indian Clinic in Miami, Okla. He was present at the final Federal Court case, which legalized gaming in Oklahoma. He also met with Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore in the White House where he received a replica peace medal. In 2012, Mr. Buffalo received the Indian Elder of the Year honor, one of 50 for Oklahoma. Lloyd was also vital in the drafting of the original Modoc constitution, later approved by the Secretary of Interior and adopted by the Modoc.
It is evident that Lloyd's service impacted the Indian people in northeast Oklahoma and the surrounding area. During an interview, Mr. Buffalo opened up about his history relating to his service and personal life.
What do you wish you knew at the beginning of your service?
"I guess it would be the attitude of the people. People expect a lot and sometimes it turns into greed I'll be honest. That's about the only thing. A long time ago my father told me, 'just listen and speak when you have to.' People say I'm soft spoken, which I probably am but I don't realize it."
What's your greatest accomplishment during your time with the Quapaw Nation?
"I did both of these while I was a member of the Business Committee. I was instrumental in the development of the first Indian Clinic in Miami, Okla. Also, for the second one, I showed the grant writer for the Miami Clinic how to combine tribal funds to construct a new clinic. I think it's a great accomplishment because it effects all of the Indian People in the area."
Can you tell me about your upbringing?
"You need to understand, my father's experience and my own expand over 130 years. He was full-blood Quapaw and I'm very proud that I'm one of the few remaining half Quapaw. I grew up in Miami, Commerce, and Galena, Kansas. I went to school in Commerce and Miami for the first two years and I'll always remember when we moved to Commerce."
During his time in Galena, Mr. Buffalo graduated as valedictorian in 1961, with perfect attendance. He received the Good Citizenship award, Bamford Foundation certificate, and a full-ride to Joplin Junior College, now known as Missouri Southern State University. After spending a semester at Joplin Junior College, he transferred to NEO A&M and graduated with a degree in industrial education.
Personal accomplishments outside of work?
"I just like to enjoy life. I'll be 78 in December. I guess this is an accomplishment; even though I'm a diabetic, I've kept myself in reasonably good physical condition. When I go to class reunions, which I haven't been in years because I haven't had any, I think I'm out of place. I see people walking on canes and walkers I think hmm… My wife says, 'who's those old people?' But I get around real well."
What do you like to do in your free time?
"I assisted my son-in-law in building a bedroom for his house this past Saturday and Sunday, they live right behind us, I helped them build an 8-by-16 porch. I like to do that kind of work. I like to hunt, I like to fish, and like a lot of people I like to loaf too. I like to deer hunt because I can go out to the woods all by myself and I don't care whether I see anything or not, just relaxation. That's my spare time."
Any other advice you'd like to share with the Quapaw Nation?
"My philosophy which I've always stood by; do not do for yourself what you wouldn't do for others. That's been a staple of my life."
Buffalo prepared a statement that gives insight to his family. He is proud of his family's accomplishments and what they have done within and outside the Quapaw Nation.
Lloyd wished to add the following:
"I have been married twice and had seven children, two of which are deceased. I have 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. From my first marriage, I had four sons, which included triplet sons and one daughter. I've been married to my second wife, Luann, a member of the Quapaw Nation, for 47 years. Luann raised the children from my first marriage as her own. Luann and I had a son and daughter. My son Geoffrey is an ordained minister and Chaplin for a local hospice who conducts numerous funeral services for the local Native American population and previously attended a Christian college in Springfield, Missouri. Jeremy, a veteran, has served as an Army medic in Germany and Bosnia and is currently in the construction trades. My daughter Leslie, a graduate of NEO A&M, is now a Reality Specialist for the Quapaw Nation. David is a parts manager for the local Chevrolet dealership. My daughter Sara is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and presently Assistant Director of the Quapaw Nation Learning Center.
I'm proud of the fact that my wife is a former Pow Wow princess. My granddaughter Lakyn is a two-time Pow Wow princess and a two-time Tribal princess, and my daughter Sara is also a two-time Tribal princess. I'm also appreciative of the sacrifices in time all my family had made when I was away on Tribal business during special events in their lives. I look forward to the continued success of the Nation in all its future endeavors."
During the interview, Mr. Buffalo reminisced about his family gathering for the holidays as a child. His mother would prepare large portions of food while the children would sit and eat on the blankets. His father was a prime example of a full-blooded Indian, a quiet individual who spoke only when needed and provided thoughtful answers after listening to the other parties.