Day 152, Song 172

Buffy Sainte-Marie

My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying

Buffy Sainte-Marie is a singer-songwriter from Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Featured on Saint-Marie's third album, Little Wheel Spin and Spin, this song depicts the colonization of the Americas from a First Nations perspective.


Now that your big eyes have finally opened Now that you're wondering how must they feel Meaning them that you've chased across America's movie screens Now that you're wondering "how can it be real?" That the ones you've called colourful, noble and proud In your school propaganda They starve in their splendor? You've asked for my comment I simply will render My country 'tis of thy people you're dying. Now that the longhouses breed superstition You force us to send our toddlers away To your schools where they're taught to despise their traditions. Forbid them their languages, then further say That American history really began When Columbus set sail out of Europe, then stress That the nation of leeches that conquered this land Are the biggest and bravest and boldest and best. And yet where in your history books is the tale Of the genocide basic to this country's birth, Of the preachers who lied, how the Bill of Rights failed, How a nation of patriots returned to their earth? And where will it tell of the Liberty Bell As it rang with a thud O'er Kinzua mud And of brave Uncle Sam in Alaska this year? My country 'tis of thy people you're dying Hear how the bargain was made for the West: With her shivering children in zero degrees, Blankets for your land, so the treaties attest, Oh well, blankets for land is a bargain indeed, And the blankets were those Uncle Sam had collected From smallpox-diseased dying soldiers that day. And the tribes were wiped out and the history books censored, A hundred years of your statesmen have felt it's better this way. And yet a few of the conquered have somehow survived, Their blood runs the redder though genes have paled. From the Grand Canyon's caverns to craven sad hills The wounded, the losers, the robbed sing their tale. From Los Angeles County to upstate New York The white nation fattens while others grow lean; Oh the tricked and evicted they know what I mean. My country 'tis of thy people you're dying. The past it just crumbled, the future just threatens; Our life blood shut up in your chemical tanks. And now here you come, bill of sale in your hands And surprise in your eyes that we're lacking in thanks For the blessings of civilization you've brought us, The lessons you've taught us, the ruin you've wrought us Oh see what our trust in America's brought us. My country 'tis of thy people you're dying. Now that the pride of the sires receives charity, Now that we're harmless and safe behind laws, Now that my life's to be known as yourheritage, Now that even the graves have been robbed, Now that our own chosen way is a novelty Hands on our hearts we salute you your victory, Choke on your blue white and scarlet hypocrisy Pitying the blindness that you've never seen That the eagles of war whose wings lent you glory They were never no more than carrion crows, Pushed the wrens from their nest, stole their eggs, changed their story; The mockingbird sings it, it's all that he knows. "Ah what can I do?" say a powerless few With a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye Can't you see that their poverty's profiting you.