A racist lie about kidnapping and torture helped make a #1 hit in 1971

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/05/13/the-gobsmackingly-racist-lie-about-a-kidnapping-and-the-brutal-torture-that-made-a-1-hit.html

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Yeah, the seemingly sympathetic lyrics aren’t great either.

They took the whole Cherokee nation
Put us on this reservation
Took away our ways of life
The tomahawk and the bow and knife
Took away our native tongue
And taught their English to our young
And all the beads we made by hand
Are nowadays made in Japan

What a lazy jumble of stereotypes.

Looks like Revere was another opportunistic white appropriator, maybe even worse than Vanilla Ice.

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Truly disgusting behaviour on the part of Loudermilk, exacerbated by the laziness of the America’s Top 40 staff.

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i’ve heard this song almost my entire life and i’ve never heard this story. how terrible! but i have also known members of the Cherokee who love this song – especially the chorus, i guess.

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1971 was right around the time the Native American activism movement was bringing more mainstream attention to issues like broken treaties, sovereignty, water rights, generations of children forced into brutal boarding schools and all other forms of cultural genocide.

So of course a white songwriter would use that unique moment in American history to enrich himself with a racist story full of stereotypes about indigenous Americans.

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I can imagine him being asked for the story of how he wrote the song and just taking the piss with the most ridiculous thing he could think up, thinking they’d never believe him. Though it was 1971 so probably not. I’ll be distraught if I ever find out there’s an equally absurd/racist backstory to Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills.

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Ryan Gosling Shut Up GIF

:grin:

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wonder if he’s any relation to

Loudermilk said he considers the presidency of Donald Trump a “movement” and has praised the concept of "Make America Great Again… On January 7, 2021, Loudermilk and 139 other House Republicans voted against certifying Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, despite no evidence of widespread election fraud.

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Is it just me, or is this story plainly unbelievable, even for 1959? It sounds more like something from 1859 or earlier.

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In what way? That he claimed to have been kidnapped? Or that he lied about it and then wrote a song about it?

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The kidnap and torture. The lying part is totally believable.

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