♫ Indian Reservation ♫

“Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” is a song written by John D. Loudermilk.  The song is about the plight of the Cherokee Indians, who in 1791 were displaced from their home in Georgia to a reservation in Oklahoma. Raiders frontman Mark Lindsay, whose ancestry was part Indian, thought that this would be a good song to record.

The first hit version of this song was recorded in 1968 by a British singer named Don Fardon, who took the song to #20 in the US and #3 in the UK. Raiders used more keyboards and modern production elements in their 1971 rendition, which reached #1 in the US in July that year.

When Casey Kasem, host of the popular radio show American Top 40 asked John D. Loudermilk about writing this song, Loudermilk embellished a story about meeting a Cherokee indian named Bloody Bear Tooth who told him about the plight of his people. Kasem repeated the story on his show, giving the song an intriguing but false backstory.

This song became not just The Raiders’ biggest hit, but the best-selling single for Columbia Records. Isn’t it ironic that a song like this, brimming with simmering rage and an implied threat to retake the land for the natives, was written by a white country songwriter, recorded by a band named after the white European patriots whose colonization of the US took the land from the Cherokees in the first place, and sold by Columbia Records, a company originating as “Columbia Graphophone Company” in the UK?

The last line of the song was prophetic. The Eastern and Western bands of the Cherokee Nation became one again on April 6, 1984 when the tribes officially reunited at the Red Clay Council Grounds (now a state park) outside Cleveland, Tennessee.

And now, ladies and gentlemen … I give you … Paul Revere and the Raiders!!!

Indian Reservation
Paul Revere & the Raiders

They took the whole Cherokee nation
Put us on this reservation
Took away our ways of life
The tomahawk and the bow and knife
Took away our native tongue
And taught their English to our young
And all the beads we made by hand
Are nowadays made in Japan

Cherokee people
Cherokee tribe
So proud to live
So proud to die

They took the whole Indian nation
Locked us on this reservation
Though I wear a shirt and tie
I’m still part redman deep inside

Cherokee people
Cherokee tribe
So proud to live
So proud to die

But maybe someday when they learn
Cherokee nation will return, will return
Will return, will return, will return

Songwriters: John Loudermilk / John D Loudermilk
Indian Reservation lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

17 thoughts on “♫ Indian Reservation ♫

  1. Look up the Lewis & Clarke Expedition. They recorded a form of this song on their first album, I believe. It was a much better production in my mind than the Raiders single, in part because it takes more than one song to tell the story. I’ve never heard the British version, so I cannot comment on that. But being Metis myself, mostly Saulteaux (sew toe), this song, whatever version, is a bit of an anthem. Thank you, Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I listened to the one you sent a link to, and I have to agree with you that it is a much better production … especially after that lead in … it speaks more poignantly. I haven’t heard the British version, though i meant to listen to it and just haven’t gotten to it yet. Yes, it is an anthem … it is also a reminder that in this day of “white supremacism”, there is really nothing to be proud of regarding the ‘founding’ of this nation.


      • I think Columbus saw that, when he insisted on calling the aboriginal Americans “Indians!” Indians belong in India, not America, so it was okay to steal their land from them. They didn’t really own it.
        I could be giving Columbus too much credit, thinking he could see far enough into the future to realize what he was doing, but why else stick with a known lie. As it was, settlers coming to the Americas had no qualms about committing genocide if necessary to take over the new world. Canada’s government, as we now know, actively pursued genocide. Probably the American governments did too. I know there are whole nations that were wiped out in order for whites to claim the land. That they were not completely successful at wiping out all aboriginal Americans was sheer chance.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Crimes against humanity … no matter how they spin it, that’s what it is, and it was a lousy way to start a nation, for it has given “Americans” a sense of arrogance, a sense of being ‘superior’, that is definitely NOT deserved. And it’s not even funny how they spin it to little kids in school, that the ‘Indians’ were the bad guys, trying to keep those ‘wonderful white settlers’ from having a home. I’m no longer proud to be a citizen of this nation, if I ever was. Sigh.


    • Awesome!!! I’m honoured to think that you like the music I post well enough to add it to your playlist! I have found that many of my readers share my musical taste, which makes me so happy, for my kids have always told me that I have terrible taste in music! Generational differences, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I meant to check out the Don Fardon version … they say it’s softer, more emotional. Obviously, sigh, I haven’t gotten around to it. I found it curious that a British singer would have done this song. Ah well … music is universal.

      Liked by 1 person

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