Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)

Album: Indian Reservation (1971)
Charted: 1
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Songfacts®:

  • 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.

    Loudermilk managed to cut ten of his own albums between the years 1961-1979; he hit the charts with 10 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • A country singer named Marvin Rainwater recorded an early version of this song called "The Pale Faced Indian" in 1959. Rainwater, who was part Cherokee, incorporated chanting into it.

    "Indian Reservation" wasn't the only song John D. Loudermilk wrote for Rainwater along this theme: "Half-Breed" (not the Cher hit), was another one. That song, about the struggles of a man whose father is white and mother is Indian, reached #66 in 1959.
  • 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.

    When Loudermilk released an album called Volume 1: Elloree in 1971, he wrote "P.S. My regards to Bloody Bear Tooth" in the sleeve notes.
  • 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?
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Scott - Nashville, TN
  • In the category of "lists guaranteed to stump you on trivia 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).
  • The Kentucky soul group New Birth recorded a new version of this song called "African Cry" in 1972, with the lyrics changed to reflect the African-American experience.

Comments: 20

  • Jennifur Sunthe late Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew was the drummer on this song. as i recall from his book I believe it was just around that time that he had that HUGE drum kit built that became so popular with a number of musicians. I also think that the whole song features members of the Crew as welll
  • Petra from EnglandSo true, so sad, will we ever learn not to be so cruel, a culture destroyed.
  • Earl Kliethermes from Jefferson City, MissouriI can't believe someone repeated the myth that Mark Lindsay is not the lead singer. It is quite obviously Mark Lindsay.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenJeff, I also noticed the organ riff being similar to the one in "Society's Child." Since, as you pointed out, it was the same musician, it's almost like he was "signing his painting" each time.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyHere's some obscure, if not disturbing, trivia:
    On January 31st 1876, the U.S. Commissioner of Indians Affairs ordered all Native Americans to move onto U.S. reservations...
    Ninety-five years later on April 4th, 1971 the Raiders' "Indian Reservation" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; fifteen weeks later on July 18th, 1971 it peaked at #1...
    {See second post below}.
  • Beatle from St. Louis, Mo.The Raiders's biggest hit of the period, "Indian Reservation", was recorded as a Mark Lindsay solo session, although some sources erroneously credit the lead vocals to Paul Weller, who, around the same time, had recorded "Indian Lake" (a cover of the hit song by the Cowsills).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 4th 1971, "Indian Reservation" by the Raiders entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 at position #94; fifteen weeks later on July 18th, 1971 it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and spent 22 weeks on the Top 100...
    It spent three weeks at #2 before moving up to the top spot, then after being at #1 for one week it spent two more weeks at #2...
    Between 1961 and 1973 the quintet had twenty-four* Top 100 records; besides "Indian Reservation" they had four other Top 10 records, "Kicks" {#4 in 1966}, "Hungry" {#6 in 1966}, "Good Things" {#4 in 1967}, and "Him or Me - What's It Gonna Be?" {#5 in 1967}...
    They just missed having a sixth Top 10 record when "Just Like Me" peaked at #11 in 1966...
    * With their first seventeen charted records they were known as 'Paul Revere and the Raiders'.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 25th 1968, "(The Lament Of the Cherokee) Indian Reservation" by Don Fardon entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #74; and on September 29th, 1968 it peaked at #20 {for 2 weeks} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    In his native England it reached #3 on the UK Singles chart and #4 in Australia...
    He had one other Top 100 record, "Delta Queen", it reached #86 in 1973...
    In 1974 he covered the Kink's "Lola" {it’s on You Tube}...
    Mr. Fardon, born Donald Maughn, celebrated his 71st birthday six days ago on August 19th {2014}.
  • Carolyn from Knoville, TnMarvin 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.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyJohn 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...
  • Jeff from Long Island, NyThe 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.
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI like the organ parts of this song.It is a good song.One of my favorites.
  • Deb from Portland, OrMark 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.
  • Roy from Leeds, EnglandFardon'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
  • Camille from Toronto, OhJohn 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.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrI heard the Raiders were kidding around when they made this and so it became a controversy. Is this right.
  • Alan from Grande Prairie, Alberta, CanadaDon 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???
  • Jordan from Richardson, TxMarvin Rainwater sang an older version of this song called the Pale Faced Indian in 1959. He was only a fourth Cherokee
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcThe 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.
  • Mickey from Ocala, FlDoesn'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?
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