Moral Low Ground

US Government

‘Niggerhead’: Rick Perry’s Texas Hunting Camp

A Texas hunting camp leased by Republican presidential hopeful and Texas Governor Rick Perry and his family had a racist name until quite recently, the Washington Post reports.

Once upon a time… like, Texas in the '80s…

The 1,070 acre spread on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in Throckmorton County, between Abilene and Wichita Falls, was christened “Niggerhead” long before the Perry family began hunting there or began leasing the property in the early 1980s. The offensive name was painted in block letters across the face of a large rock that stood at the gate to the camp’s entrance.  But the name remained for years after Rick Perry and his father arrived. Just how long after is the subject of some contention down in Throckmorton.

“When my Dad joined the lease in 1983, he took the first opportunity he had to paint over the offensive word on the rock,” Governor Perry wrote to the Washington Post in response to a series of detailed inquiries. Responding to further questions, Perry wrote: “My mother and father went to the lease and painted the rock in either 1983 or 1984. This occurred after I paid a visit to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word. After my visit I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they painted it over during their next visit. Ever since, any time I ever saw the rock it was painted over.”

But the Washington Post interviewed seven people, some of them Perry supporters, who gave a very different account of when the racist name on the rock was painted over.

Ronnie Brooks, who was a game warden in the area beginning in 1981 and who guided several turkey shoots for Rick Perry while he was a state legislator between 1985 and 1990, told the Post: “I remember the first time I went through that pasture and saw that [the rock],” he said. “It kind of offended me, truthfully,” he added.

“I thought, ‘This is going to embarras Rick some day,'” another local, who did not want to be identified and who visited the camp with Perry, told the Post.

“I was just so taken aback that is was so blatant, so in your face,” a visitor from Dallas who visited in 1990 or 1991 told the Post. 

Indeed, of the seven people interviewed by the Post, all said the racially offensive name was clearly painted on the rock in the 1980s and 1990s, with one former ranch hand claiming to have seen it as late as 2008.

That’s well after when Rick Perry began hosting spring turkey shoots and other hunts for his fellow lawmakers and political supporters in the mid-1980s.

“We kind of laughed about it,” one local who visited the camp with Perry told the Post, referring to the painted-over rock. This person, who says he plans to vote for Perry if he wins the Republican presidential nomination, added: “My recollection is that it was several years ago. We were laughing because he had painted it. Because it had always been there. You couldn’t miss it, right there at the gate going in. We laughed about, ‘Rick’s covering his tracks.'”

Racism in those parts runs as deep as Texas is wide. Perry himself was raised during the latter days of Jim Crow segregation. According to the Post, Throckmorton County– which lies just east of Haskell County, where Perry grew up in tiny Paint Creek– was for many years a “virtual no-go zone” for blacks. There were old tales of lynching, and in 1950– the year Perry was born– there was just one black resident there out of a population of 3,600 people. Old-timers recall being greeted by whites with “Morning, nigger!” In Haskell County, Martin Luther King Jr. Day wasn’t even observed until a couple of years ago. It should come as no surprise, then, that many locals don’t see what all the fuss being raised over “Niggerhead” is all about.

“It’s just a name,” Haskell County Judge David Davis told the Post. 

Last week, Governor Perry said that the name on the rock is an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.” His hunting camp has been called “North Camp Pasture” for some time now, but many locals, hunters, cowboys and ranchers still call the place by its offensive old name.

In rural Texas, the old ways die hard. And all too often, the old ways were racist ways. Such is the world in which Rick Perry was born and raised, and that world is now coming back to bite him in the ass.

The political fallout has already begun. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, who is black, slammed Perry over the racist rock. “There isn’t a more vile, negative word than the N-word,” Cain opined. “And for him to leave it there as long as he did before he painted over it, it’s just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”

But Cain himself is no stranger to controversy among blacks. Just last week, he appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer and said that most American blacks “have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view.”

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  1. JamesOctober 2, 2011 at 9:26 pmReply

    Great article, but please look at a map of Texas. Haskell and Throckmorton are NOT “rural west texas”. Try Midland, Odessa, Pecos, Van Horn…that’s West Texas.

    • Ray A. ClarkOctober 4, 2011 at 1:02 pmReply

      I get so tickled at newspeople describing “rural” areas….Like the announcers on the Weather Channel….heck, some of what they call “the entire northeastern United States” probably would just be from San Angelo to Lufkin………..

  2. MimiOctober 3, 2011 at 7:36 pmReply

    It’s still T-E-X-A-S!

  3. eden adlerOctober 3, 2011 at 8:11 pmReply

    Can we seriously be going backwards? Does Rick have any respect for the 60% of employed in Texas are AFRICAN~AMERICAN OR RACIALLY MIXED? MANY ~Hispanic and hardworking for you and this country! Rick~shall we go there? You go very deep in the KKK, it will come out! Niggerhead~seriously?

  4. Ray A. ClarkOctober 4, 2011 at 12:59 pmReply

    I grew up in Sagerton, a smaller town that Ricky did. We still respect people of different color, and one of the most- attended funerals lately held in one of our small towns was for a beloved man everyone knew as “Nigger Junior”. Hardly anyone knew him by his given Christian name, but he was one of the most trusted and loved men in Haskell county. And proud of his name, by the way !!! Let’s just leave this political crap in the politicians’ diapers where it belongs !!

    • Brett WilkinsOctober 4, 2011 at 1:02 pmReplyAuthor

      You just don’t get it, do you? There is absolutely NO place for such words in 21st century America. Then again, perhaps Sagerton hasn’t yet entered the 21st century…

      • Linda HarrisonNovember 6, 2011 at 1:18 pmReply

        No!!! you just don’t get it. You are the “biggot” not the man who just told you the man named “Nigger Junior was a beloved member of the community. You and your liberal media just love to destroy good people with you idiotic prejudicial statements. My dad was born in Throckmoton county I heard the word “nigger” all my life as did probably everyone my age. It was never said in a derogatory way as my Dad’s folks were as poor as the “niggers” who were their friends. My dad would have given you or anyone, (niggers included ) the shirt off of his back if he thought you needed it worse than him. He grew up in the Depression and the dust bowl. Slept on sidewalks, and worked for food as a 12 year old. The people of that part a of Texas are good, honorable, hardworking people who do what is right by all men. Maybe, they like Perry used to use the word “nigger” to refer to black men but it was never intended as a racial slur as you make it out to be. It was just part of their culture. Like all of the racially things I’ve heard about the North referring to “MicKs, Jews, Limey’s, I forget the term I’ve heard for the Irish imigrants, Japs, Chinamen, etc. It was never intended to hurt people and when they found out it did , folks in this and that part of the country quit using the term. However, You still hear “black” Men & women refer to “niggers” in filthy language in movies also produced by libera media. I can never understand why it’s ok for them to use the word and they want to “crucify” the white person that used it 20 -40 yrs ago. I’ve been to throckmorton county and I heard my Dad who is a lot older than Rick Perry refer to Niggerhead” I t was just the name of the place. I have also heard my uncle who is now deceased referred to as “niggerhead” (He was a man with dark skin and straight black hair.) He hunted fished and gambled. He was a white man through and through. And…he was never offended it was just a “nickname”. I guess the last thing I want to say to you and all of those like you is to just “shutup”!! You and all of those like you!!! You make my Irish temper “boil”!!!

        • Brett WilkinsNovember 6, 2011 at 2:13 pmReplyAuthor

          You are one of the saddest, most ignorant human beings I have ever encountered. You just don’t get it– words like “nigger”, or any other racial slur, have NO PLACE IN SOCIETY. No ifs, ands, buts or maybes. But I can’t expect someone with such a low level of education as yourself to understand such self-evident facts. The disgusting way in which you think has, thankfully, not been popular in this country for the last half century or so. It is very tempting to make some derisive comment about the people where you live, but I bet many of them find your blatant racism repulsive and it would be unfair to tarnish an entire geographical area as a result of your stupefying ignorance.

  5. Sam McGowanOctober 5, 2011 at 10:10 pmReply

    Folks, get it through your heads – 1983 WAS NOT the 21t Century, and it’s not 2011. “Visible” only means that some of the word can (barely) be seen through the remnants of the paint. The Washington Post claims a photograph shows “N” and two “G”s, not the whole word. The media is claiming Perry is somehow responsible for the name and not recognizing that his account of painting over the name is perfectly plausible. This is a media event with no substance to it.

  6. theColonelAugust 10, 2012 at 6:32 amReply

    The term “Nigger-Head”, means that the soil is loaded with large and dense rocks. They generally are in sizes similar to a head and extremely both heavy, and hard. Nothing penetrates them. The sizes of the big ones from 36″ to the largest I have seen 203″, are called goose eggs.
    The term “Nigger”, is from Niggard. They are the big pig-iron rope tethers on a pier at the waterfront. Slap them, and your hand will hurt. Nothing penetrates because they are dense. When the slaves were brought to America, the Cracker, was the man cracking the whip to move them along. He was not allowed to strike them because he might cause damage to slaves who were goods being sold. The Bull Doser, had authority to mete punishment bad enough to kill a bull with a dose of his whip. Forty lashes were reserved in White court for horrible crimes, but slaves commonly were given one-hundred lashes arbitrarily by the Bull Doser. The slaves spoke no English and were fearful, but it was interpreted that they were beyond stupid and dense as a Niggard. In layman’s language, the ‘d’ was not pronounced.
    In conclusion, I hope this information invokes thought and inspires. NiggerHead, is a mass of land where large rocks the size of a head are all indide the soil. Many farmers cussed every which way because they ruined a day’s work. They had to be removed or crops would fail. Ornate fences were built as result that there were so many and they had to put them somewhere eventually turning into a row fence, or building foundation. There is nothing racist about this. People feed into it, their brand of humor. The truth becomes lost and something else lives on. Texas farmers, as all farmers over the globe, are very hardworking and under-appreciated. Today, everyone jackjaws like braying donkies, but the farmer’s school of thought is: “The sound wheel, makes no noise.” Be respectful.

    • Brett WilkinsAugust 10, 2012 at 10:20 amReplyAuthor

      And a “faggot” is really just a bundle of sticks. Be respectful, indeed!

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