THE SENECAS (AS LONG AS THE GRASS SHALL GROW) (PETER LAFARGE) (early 1960s)

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THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York, Oct 2, 1962

TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
As a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians I am pleased with the coverage given the Kinzua dam issue by The Times. I am not pleased, however, by the recent editorial reference (Sept. 20) to straggling members of a once proud tribe.
May I inform you that the Seneca residents of the Allegany Indian Reservation are a strong and still proud group of people, in spite of the continued bad treatment received from the United States Government. That they have survived at all is evidence of the strength of their culture.

BETTE CROUSE MELE, Princeton, NJ, Sept. 27, 1962

Lyrics as reprinted (with minor corrections by myself) in liner notes of Peter LaFarge, As Long As The Grass Shall Grow, Folkways FN 2532, 1963

The Senecas are an Indian Tribe of the Iroquois nation,
Down on the New York-Pennsylvania line, you'll find their reservation.
After the U. S. revolution, Cornplanter was a chief;
He told the tribe these men they could trust, that was his true belief.
He went down to Independence Hall, and there a treaty signed,
That promised peace with the USA, and Indian rights combined.
George Washington gave his signature, the Government gave its hand;
They said that now and forever more this was Indian land.

CHORUS: As long as the moon shall rise,
As long as the rivers flow,
As long as the sun will shine,
As long as the grass shall grow.

On the Seneca reservation, there is much sadness now;
Washington's treaty has been broken, and there is no hope, no how.
Across the Allegheny River, they're trowing up a dam;
It will flood the Indian country, a proud day for Uncle Sam.
It has broke the ancient treaty with a politician's grin;
It will drown the Indian graveyards -- Cornplanter, can you swim?
The earth is mother to the Senecas; they're trampling sacred ground,
Change the mint-green earth to black mud flats, as honor hobbles down...

The Iroquois Indians used to rule from Canada way south;
But no one fears the Indians now, and smiles the liar's mouth.
The Senecas hired an expert to figure another site;
But the great good Army engineers said that he had no right.
Although he showed them another plan, and showed them another way,
They laughed in his face and said, "No deal, Kinzua dam is here to stay."
Congress turned the Indian down, brushed off the Indians' plea;
So the Senecas have renamed the dam, they call it "Lake Perfidy."

Washington, Adams, and Kennedy, now hear their pledges ring,
"The treaties are safe, we'll keep our word," but what is that gurgling?
It's the backwater from Perfidy Lake, it's rising all the time,
Over the homes and over the fields, over the promises fine.
No boats will sail on Lake Perfidy, in winter it will fill;
In summer it will be a swamp, and all the fish will kill.
But the Government of the USA has corrected George's vow.
The Father of Our Country must be wrong -- what's an Indian, anyhow?

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