Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)

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"Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)"
Single by Don Fardon
B-side "Dreamin' Room"
Released 1968
Format 7-inch single
Length 3:23
Writer(s) John D. Loudermilk
Producer(s) Miki Dallon
"Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)"
Single by Raiders
from the album Indian Reservation
B-side "Terry's Tune"
Released February 1971
Format Vinyl record
Genre Rock
Length 2:55
Label Columbia
Writer(s) John D. Loudermilk [1]
Producer(s) Mark Lindsay
Certification Platinum (RIAA)[2]
Raiders singles chronology
"Gone Movin' On"
"Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)"
"Birds of a Feather"

"Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)" is a song written by John D. Loudermilk.[1] Marvin Rainwater first recorded the song in 1959 on MGM by Marvin Rainwater as "The Pale Faced Indian", but that release stayed unnoticed. The first hit version was a 1968 cover by Don Fardon, a former member of The Sorrows, that reached #20 on the Hot 100[3] and #3 on the UK Singles Chart.[4]

In 1971 Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded the song on the Columbia Records label, and it topped the Hot 100 on July 24.[5] The RIAA gold certification followed on 30 June 1971 for selling over a million copies. It was later certified platinum for selling an additional million copies.[2]

The UK punk band, 999, released a cover version on 14 November 1981 on the Albion Ion label, and it reached #51 in the UK chart.[6] The song was later further covered by the Orlando Riva Sound.

Billy Thunderkloud & the Chieftones covered the song in 1976 for Polydor Records, taking their version to number 74 on Hot Country Songs.[7]

The song is also covered as "National Reservation" by the Slovenian martial industrial group Laibach on their 1994 album NATO, replacing "Cherokee" in several places with "Eastern", in the context of the end of the Cold War and influx of capitalism in eastern Europe (and thus changing the context of "we're still a redman deep inside" to that of communism).

A 1994 country song by Tim McGraw, "Indian Outlaw", ends with part of the main "Cherokee people" chorus from "Indian Reservation".[8] The live version also uses the full chorus near the end of the song.

In 2015 the song was recorded by the popular Chicago area band ALTER EGO which featured the first-ever lead vocal of the song by a female singer. The band released the song online for digital download.[9]

Historical context[edit]

The song refers to the forcible removal and relocation of the Five Civilized Tribes, including the Cherokee people, from the southeastern states of Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama to the southern Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. The removal of these tribes throughout the 1830s is often referred to as the "Trail of Tears". The removal of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole came on the heels of President Andrew Jackson's key legislation, the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Cherokee were the last of the Five Civilized Tribes to be removed after signing the Treaty of New Echota. The removal caused great turmoil within the tribe as members of the Treaty Party were marked for death by Principal Chief John Ross. During the American Civil War the Cherokee were divided between the Ross Faction and the Ridge Faction. The Ross Faction, who had not supported removal and was made up mostly of full blood members of the tribe, remained loyal to the Union. The Ridge Faction, led by Stand Watie, was made up mostly of half blood members of the tribe and due to their southern ways (including owning slaves) sided with the Confederacy. Stand Watie became the last Confederate General to surrender.[10] Following the Civil War, the United States Indian Policy turned to war and forced reservation life for the nations of the Great Plains. The Dawes Act of 1887 was adopted to allow the President to survey Indian lands and divide it up into individual allotments. Under the Dawes Act many Natives were "registered" with the Federal government. However, the law did not apply to the Five Civilized Tribes; instead the Dawes Commission was established in 1893 to convince members of the Five Civilized Tribes to adopt the individual allotments under the Dawes Act. Many Cherokee refused to be registered and as a result another split in the Cherokee Nation occurred. Today the Cherokee maintain their Federal reservation in Oklahoma with pockets living in their ancestral lands of North Carolina and Georgia.

Music and lyric form[edit]

The music is in a minor key, with sustained minor chords ending each phrase in the primary melody, while the electronic organ holds the melody line through a slow musical turn (turning of related notes) which ends each phrase, and emphasizes the ominous minor chords. Underneath the slow, paced melody, is a rhythmic, low "drum beat" in double-time, constantly, relentlessly pushing to follow along, but the melody continues its slow, deliberate pace above the drum beat.

Below are partial lyrics from the Raiders' version:

They took the whole Indian nation,
Locked us on this reservation
    . . .
Took away our native tongue,
And taught their English to our young
    . . .
Cherokee people! Cherokee tribe!   - [sung as shouting]
So proud to live, so proud to die
    . . .
Though I wear a shirt and tie,
I'm still part redman deep inside...[11]

The lyrics vary somewhat among the recorded versions. Rainwater's version omits the "Cherokee people!" chorus but includes instead a series of "Hiya hiya ho!" chants. Fardon's version is similar to the Raiders' through the first verse and chorus, but differs in the second verse, which includes the lines "Altho' they changed our ways of old/They'll never change our heart and soul", also found in Rainwater's version. Rainwater includes some of the elements found in the other versions in a different order, and his first verse has words not found in the others, such as "They put our papoose in a crib/and took the buck skin from our rib".

At the end, where the Raiders sing "...Cherokee nation will return", Fardon says "Cherokee Indian...", while Rainwater omits the line and ends with "beads...nowadays made in Japan." In addition, Fardon sings the line: "no more tepees anymore", not used in the Raiders' version.

Chart Positions[edit]

Don Fardon

Charts (1968, 1970) Peak


U.S. Billboard Hot 100[3] 20
UK Singles Chart (Official Chart Company)[12] 3


Charts (1971) Peak


U.S. Billboard Hot 100[3] 1


Charts (1981) Peak


UK Singles Chart (Official Chart Company)[13] 51

Chart run[edit]

Billboard Hot 100[2] (22 weeks, entered April 10): Reached #1 on July 24 (1 week)[5]

Preceded by
"It's Too Late" / "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (The Raiders version)
July 24, 1971 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jancik, Wayne The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders 1998. ISBN 0-8230-7622-9 page 247
  2. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (1997). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1996. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research Inc. p. 509. ISBN 0-89820-122-5. 
  3. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel, Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 Record Research Inc. 1997 pages 238, 589 ISBN 0-89820-155-1
  4. ^ "". 1971-01-30. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  5. ^ a b Bronson, Fred, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard Publications, Inc. 1985. ISBN 0-8230-7522-2
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 395. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 420. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  8. ^ "Indian Outlaw - Tim McGraw - Google Play Music". Retrieved October 11, 2015. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Connole, Joseph, 'Why they Fought: Native American Involvement in the American Civil War', Whispering Wind Magazine vol. 39 no. 6, Jan. 2011
  11. ^ "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian) - Paul Revere & The Raiders - Google Play Music". Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  12. ^ "DON FARDON full Official Chart History Official Charts Company". Official Chart. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "999 full Official Chart History Official Charts Company". Official Chart. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 

External links[edit]