Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian) by the Raiders (Columbia, 1971)

Paul Revere & the Raiders put Boise, Idaho on the rock & roll map in the 60s and gave all the British Invasion bands a run for their money with hits like Kicks & Good Thing. But by the end of the decade, lead singer Mark Lindsay went solo, Happening 68, their TV show, was off the air and the band was in limbo.

During a solo recording session, Mark recorded a cover of John Loudermilk’s Indian Reservation which was a bizarre hit for Don Fardon, lead singer of the British band, The Sorrows in 1968. Not sure what made Mark think he could or should do a cover himself. Maybe he thought it was a good followup to Arizona and it would certainly make more sense, if any, in his catalogue. But when Paul Revere heard it, he decided to get the band together and release it as a tune under the newly named Raiders namesake. Then he literally went on midnight rides across the country on his motorcycle promoting the tune, pushing radio stations to play it, hitting #1 in July 1971. It went on to be Columbia Records best-selling single for many years.

Originally this song was entitled The Pale Faced Indian, recorded by Marvin Rainwater in 1959. Here is Marvin’s version as well as Don Fardon’s version. Now tell me which one you find more offensive to Native Americans.

At least Marvin was 1/4 Cherokee. Don was British. And who wants a bunch of White dudes from Idaho singing about the plight of Cherokee Indians? You see when social activism went mainstream as the 70s dawned, you had people all of a sudden giving a shit about the Native Americans and they showed it by buying this 45. And when they were done they threw it out of their car window on the side on the road where the crying Indian, Iron Eyes Cody shed a tear. Except that ol Iron Eyes was Sicilian, not Native American, so that was bullshit too. Oops I’m getting off topic. Enjoy this weird song that signaled the end for the Raiders.

Leave a comment


  1. Sabrina

     /  October 7, 2014

    One of the bad members, Mark Lindsay, is of partial Native American heritage as well. Most of us didn’t think the song was weird back in 1971.

    • John Roberts

       /  June 24, 2022

      Agree. It should be the powerful message that’s important, not the genetic heritage of those who sing it – that’s what I love about the song, as with Silver Bird and Arizona. With cancel culture, music will one day grind to a halt because SOMEONE will be offended, somewhere.

  2. W.B.

     /  March 13, 2021

    It was very odd with Columbia Records in the early 1970’s. This was issued commercially in stereo – yet the Hall of Fame reissue used the mono mix that was on radio station copies. And this was hardly unique. A few others, such as Janis Joplin’s “Me And Bobby McGee” and Chicago’s “Make Me Smile,” also had this distinction.

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