History question

Watch/listen to the My Country Tis’ songs. One version is by Buffy Sainte-Marie, an Indigenous Canadian-American artist, and the other version is by Dolly Parton, an American country singer. 

Compare the lyrics (in the article section of Module 5) each use for their song and provide a commentary on patriotic songs and Indigenous history of the United States.


Always support your discussion with evidence, examples, and/or quotes. The story of My Country Tis’ of Thee dates back to the year 1831 when Samuel Francis Smith, a 24-year-old Baptist seminary student, was attending the Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.  While working with there, Smith came across a Lutheran hymn called ”God Bless Our Native Land,” which was said to be set to the English melody of ”God Save the King.” Smith was inspired by the song’s connection between faith and patriotism and set out to write an American version, one with different lyrics but the same basic tune. ”My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” was first performed by a children’s choir in Boston, Massachusetts, in July of 1831. The song’s popularity only grew from there, and it quickly became the unofficial national anthem of the United States. The song has had several cover versions done by various artists. Hopefully, you already watched/listened to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s and Dolly Parton’s version in the Module 5 Video section. Below are the lyrics for each.

My Country ‘Tis of thy People You’re Dying
© Buffy Sainte-Marie

Now that your big eyes are finally opened.
Now that you’re wondering, “How must they feel?”
Meaning them that you’ve chased cross America’s movie screens;
Now that you’re wondering, “How can it be real?”
That the ones you’ve called colorful, noble and proud
In your school propaganda,
They starve in their splendour.
You asked for our comment, I simply will render:
My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying.

Now that the long houses “breed superstition”
You force us to send our children 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 and stress
That the nations of leeches who conquered this land
Were 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 over Kinzua mud?
Or of brave Unlce Sam in Alaska this year?
My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying.

Hear how the bargain was made for West,
With her shivering children in zero degrees.
“Blankets for your land” – so the treaties attest.
Oh well, blankets for land, that’s 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
say, “It’s better this way”.
But a few of the conquered have somehow survived
And their blood runs the redder
Though genes have been paled.
From the Grand Canyon’s caverns
To Craven’s sad hills
The wounded, the losers, the robbed sing their tale.
From Los Angeles County to upstate New York,
The white nation fattens while other 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 is shut up in your chemical tanks,
And now here you come, bill of sale in your hand
And surprise in your eyes, that we’re lacking in thanks
For the blessings of civilisation you brought us
The lessons you’ve taught us;
The ruin you’ve wrought us;
Oh see what our trust in America got 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 your heritage.
Now that even the graves have been robbed.
Now that our own chosen way is your novelty.
Hands on our hearts
We salute you your victory:
Choke on your blue white and scarlet hypocrisy.
Pitying your blindness; How you never see –
that the eagles of war whose wings lent you glory,
Were never no more than buzzards & crows:
Pushed some wrens from their nest;
Stole their eggs; changed their story.
The mockingbird sings it;
It’s all that she knows.
“Oh what can I do?”, say a powerless few.
With a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye:
Can’t you see how their poverty’s profiting you?
My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying.

My Country ’Tis

Song by Dolly Parton

My country ’tis
This wee sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing
Land where my fathers died
Land of the pilgrim’s pride
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring
My native country, thee
Land of the noble free
Thy name I love
I love thy rocks and rills
Thy woods and templed hills
My heart will rapture fills like that above

… Let music swell the breeze
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song
Let mortal tongues awake
Let all that breathe partake
Let rocks their silence break
The sound prolong

… Our Father God to Thee Author of liberty
To Thee I sing
My country ’tis of Thee
Sweet land of liberty
For all eternity
Let freedom ring
Let freedom ring
My country ’tis, my country ’tis of Thee

History question

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