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The Ballad of Ira Hayes, song lyrics

Song: The Ballad of Ira Hayes
Lyrics: Peter La Farge(1)

Music: Peter La Farge(1)
Year: c. 1962(1)
Genre: Ballad
Country: USA

Call him drunken Ira Hayes(2),
He won't answer anymore;
Not the whiskey drinkin' Indian,
Nor the Marine that went to war.

Gather round me, people there's a story I would tell
About a brave young Indian, you should remember well;
From the land of the Pima Indians, a proud and noble band,
Who farmed the Phoenix valley in Arizona land.

Down the ditches for a thousand years, the water grew Ira's peoples' crops,
'Till the white man stole the water rights and the sparklin' water stopped.
Now Ira's folks grew hungry and their land grew crops of weeds,
When war came Ira volunteered and forgot the white man's greed.
This song was originally posted on

There they battled up Iwo Jima's hill -- Two hundred and fifty men,
But only twenty-seven lived -- to walk back down again;
And when the fight was over -- and Old Glory raised,
Among the men who held it high Was the Indian -- Ira Hayes.


Ira returned a hero, -- celebrated through the land,
He was wined and speeched and honored -- everybody shook his hand;
But he was just a Pima Indian, -- no water, no home, no chance;
At home nobody cared what Ira'd done -- and when do the Indians dance?
This song was originally posted on

Then Ira started drinkin' hard -- jail was often his home;
They'd let him raise the flag and lower it, -- as you would throw a dog a bone;
He died drunk one morning, -- Alone in the land he'd fought to save;
Two inches of water in a lonely ditch -- Was a grave for Ira Hayes.


Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes -- but his land is just as dry, And his ghost is lying thirsty In the ditch where Ira died.


1 - This song was first released on the 1962 Peter La Farge album, "Ira Hayes" And Other Ballads

2 - For more information on Ira Hamilton Hayes, from Wikipedia.