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Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by John D. Loudermilk, a singer/songwriter who recorded as "Johnny Dee" and wrote "Tobacco Road" for The Nashville Teens and "Ebony Eyes" for The Everly Brothers. The song was first recorded in 1968 by a British singer named Don Fardon, whose version hit #20 in the US and #3 in the UK.

Loudermilk managed to cut ten of his own albums between the years 1961-1979; he hit the charts with ten of his own singles between the years 1957-1967, and had tremendous success writing songs for other artists. Working from Nashville, Tennessee, he also wrote hit songs for the Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Stonewall Jackson, and Sue Thompson. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976.
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. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The group was formerly known as Paul Revere and the Raiders. This song became not just their 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?
Mark Lindsay didn't sing lead on this, guitarist Freddy Weller did. Instead, Lindsay produced the single.
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. (thanks, Scott - Nashville, TN)
In the category of "lists guaranteed to stump you on Trivial Pursuit night," we present the guitarists and bass players of Paul Revere & the Raiders, active at some point since their founding in 1958: Robert White (1958-1961), Richard White (1958-1961), William Hibbard (1958-1961), Ross Allemang (1962-1963), Steve West (1962), Dick Walker (1962-1963), Drake "Kid" Levin (1963-1967), Jim "Harpo" Valley (1966-1967), Phil "Fang" Volk (1965-1967), Mike "Doc" Holliday (1963-1965), Charlie Coe (1963-1968), Keith Allison (1968-1975), Freddy Weller (1967-1973), Jamie Revere (1980-1990).
More Raiders songs
More songs about historical events
More songs about pride in your heritage
More songs about Native Americans

Comments (12):

Marvin Rainwater did record this prior to Paul Revere and the Raiders. I liked the song because it spoke of the injustice done to Native Americans, as did Johnny Cash's "Bitter Tears" album.
- Carolyn, Knoville, TN
John D. Loudermilk had four records that made the Top 100; his most successful was "Language of Love", it peaked at #32 in 1961. As Johnny Dee he charted with "Sittin' In the Balcony", it reached #38 in 1957...
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
The organ coda is a slightly lengthened, but otherwise virtually identical version of the one in Janis Ian's "Society Child" five years earlier, but it's hard to call it plagiarism, since Artie Butler was the organist both times.
- Jeff, Long Island, NY
I like the organ parts of this song.It is a good song.One of my favorites.
- Jennifer Harris, Grand Blanc, MI
Mark Lindsay sang Indian Reservation; in fact, it was recorded as a Mark Lindsay single (he's part Cherokee) but then he released it as a Raider single when the group was pressed for a new single. Mark produced Freddy Weller's Indian Lake and somehow the confuson began.

Loudermilk was given songwriter credit on Indian Outlaw because a few bars of Indian Reservation are included in the later song.
- Deb, portland, OR
Fardon's version not a hit in UK until October 1970. He was originally lead singer with a UK band called the Sorrows who had a top 30 UK hit in 1965 with a song called Take A Heart
- roy, leeds, England
John Loudermilk also went on to co-write the hit country tune "Indian Outlaw" which put Tim McGraw (you know, Faith Hill's hubby) on the map.
- Camille, Toronto, OH
I heard the Raiders were kidding around when they made this and so it became a controversy. Is this right.
- Jon, Oakridge, OR
Don Fardon's cover far superior to the Raiders. Paul Revere and the Raiders excellent band with great songs like "Kicks" sad to say their biggest song to chart was their worst. #1 go figure???
- Alan, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Marvin Rainwater sang an older version of this song called the Pale Faced Indian in 1959. He was only a fourth Cherokee
- Jordan, Richardson, TX
The song's author John Loudermilk told the syndicated radio program "American Top Forty" a tall tale about how he was taken prisoner by Cherokee Indians once, and released only after he promised to write a song dramatizing their plight. The ruse went undetected for years. Loudermilk told the fib in response to being woken up after midnight by a telephone call from one of the show's writers.
- Charles, Charlotte, NC
Doesn't anyone at all remember that this was a song done by a full blooded Cherokee Indian by the name of Marvin Rainwater several years before the Raiders version?
- mickey, ocala, FL
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