Silver Buffalo Award

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Silver Buffalo Award
Silver Buffalo Award.png
Medal and knot
Owner Boy Scouts of America
Country United States
Created 1926
Awarded for Noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis
Recipients 719 (2013)
 Scouting portal
Buffalo Statue, donated to Gilwell Park by the Boy Scouts of America in 1926

The Silver Buffalo Award is the national-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. It is presented for noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis, either as part of, or independent of the Scouting program. The award is made by the National Court of Honor and the recipient need not be a registered member of the BSA.


The award consists of a silver buffalo medal suspended from a red and white ribbon worn around the neck. Recipients may wear the corresponding square knot, with a white strand over a red strand, on the BSA uniform.[1]

Using the United States military as the model, silver awards are the highest awards in the BSA.[2][3]


Silver Buffalo award and citation presented to the Unknown Scout

The concept of the Silver Buffalo was based on the Silver Wolf Award of the Boy Scout Association.[4] The buffalo pendant was designed by A. Phimister Proctor. A red-white-red ribbon bar was introduced in 1934 for informal uniform wear. In 1946, ribbon bars were replaced by the current knot insignia.[5]

During the first presentation in 1926, twenty-two awards were presented in a particular order determined by Chief Scout Executive James E. West. Since then, the awards have been presented on an annual basis in alphabetical order. The first Silver Buffalo Award was conferred upon Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement and Chief Scout of the World.[6] This award is represented by a small buffalo statue in Gilwell Park. The second went to the Unknown Scout who inspired William D. Boyce to form the BSA. In 1928, the WWI soldier buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns was awarded the Silver Buffalo for distinguished service to America's youth.[7]

For fifty years the Silver Buffalo was awarded only to men until LaVern W. Parmley became the first woman to receive the honor in 1976. As of 2012, 718 people have been presented the award, including 14 presidents of the United States.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Distinguished Service Awards". Boy Scouts of America. 
  2. ^ "Silver Outranks Gold". SageVenture. 
  3. ^ "Why Does Silver Outrank Gold in Scouting Awards?". Ask the Expert. 
  4. ^ Rowan, Edward L (2005). To Do My Best: James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America. Las Vegas International Scouting Museum. ISBN 0-9746479-1-8. 
  5. ^ "Illustrated History of BSA Square Knot Evolution and Private Issues" (PDF). SageVenture. 
  6. ^ "Silver Buffalo". Time. May 10, 1926. 
  7. ^ "Silver Buffalo Award Winners 1929-1926". Boy Scouts of America. 
  8. ^ "Distinguished Service Awards: The Silver Buffalo Award". Boy Scouts of America.