Birch Bark Canoe (The Moonshiners) video
See also: The Indian's Lament (Tommy Nemec)
And also: The Indian's Lament (Kenneth Peacock)
#937: YouTube video by oldirishladdie
©2009 ~ Used with permission ~

An Indian sailed out in his birch bark canoe,
He sang as he sailed o'er the water so blue;
He sang of the days when the land was their own,
Before the palefaces among them were known.

At first when the white men they came to our land,
We treat them like brothers, we lend them a hand;
We knew they were weary and wanted repose,
Never thinking the white man would ever be our foes.

For a while we were happy with friends all around,
We showed them the best of our own hunting ground;
They paid us in trinkets which pleased for a while,
And caused the poor Indians like children to smile.

But then they began to impose on our rights,
Their numbers increased and they drove us to flight;
They drove us away from our own happy shore,
And smoke of our campfires will rise here no more.

They built the large cities all over our land,
And on the rich prairies your farmhouses stand;
They all know the country from Texas to Maine,
And the Indians they seek for their wigwams in vain.

Oh, the pride of the forests got over ourself,
They tore up our cedar so where are they now?
The otter, the beaver, the hunters did slain,
And they've driven the reindeer far over the plain.

Oh the graves of our forefathers where are they now?
They're rudely trodden over and torn by the plough;
Our children have wandered, distracted and cold,
And the graves of our forefathers we'll visit no more.

For a while we will linger 'round this happy place,
Our wives and our sweethearts we dearly embrace;
Till the great spirit calls us away from all pain,
To some bright happy land where we'll all meet again.

An Indian sailed out in his birch bark canoe.

####.... Author unknown ....####
This variant was arranged and recorded by The Moonshiners (Our Newfoundland Breed, trk#10, 1989 Cassette, Independent, Goose Cove, St Anthony, NL, and recorded at Sim Savory's Studio in Belleoram, NL).

See more songs by Moonshiners.

A variant was collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1958 from Mrs Thomas (Annie) Walters [1896-1986] of Rocky Harbour, NL, and published as The Indian's Lament in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.157-158, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that this is an American song probably written by a New Englander sensitive to the plight of the Indian. The last verse suggests that the west was not yet opened up, so the song might date from the first half of the nineteenth-century or just about mid-century. Peacock added that the Indians described are obviously from the eastern woodlands.

A variant was recorded as The Indian's Lament by Tommy Nemec singing acapella the songs he heard sung by his grandfather, John P Myrick [1900-1984] with Thomas (Tom) Finlay [1885-?] at house parties in St Shotts and on Cape Pine, NL (Songs From The Cape, trk#2, 2003, Backcove Music, St John's, NL, recorded at the Cape Pine Lightstation).

A similar variant also appears in a copy of a 21-page handwritten monograph, The Boy From Kilkeel, Ireland, written by John Doran [1873-1926] and archived in the Newfoundland stacks of The National Library of Canada, AMICUS No. 12933482, and copyrighted in 1992 by the author's grandson, John Doran of Barrie, Ontario.

A variant was also collected in 1951 from Cyril O'Brien [ca.1902-?] of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

Another variant was collected in 1929 by Helen Creighton [1899-1989] from Benjamin H Henneberry [1863-1951] of Devil's Island, Nova Scotia, and published as #121, An Old Indian (The Indian Song) in Songs And Ballads From Nova Scotia, pp.262-263 (Dent, 1932; Dover, 1966).


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