For information on efforts to restore areas of the Kankakee River in Indiana

Also, the Northern Indiana Historical Society in South Bend has a wonderful Kankakee River Exhibit.  This song is under consideration to be included in the Exhibit.

For a web site that lists songs and CDs about American Rivers

For more information on the historical Kankakee River, look for two books, "Tales of the Kankakee", and "Kankakee River Tales".  These books inspired and informed the writing of this song.  (I'll post the authors names when I've got a few minutes)

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The Great Kankakee
© 1990 joHn Kennedy
From the tape "Live At The Tin Shop" with Seamaisin

 For sound sample

Sit here and listen, I'll tell you a story
about how this land was not so long ago
I'll sing you a song of a mighty old river
The natives here called him the Long Wide and Slow
Where you see the farmers out working the ground
between the spring showers in April and May
the tall marshland rushes held black birds and thrushes
the wolf and the bear and the eagle did stay

Chorus
The Great Kankakee, he is calling to me
The Great Kankakee, The Long, Wide, Slow, and Free
The Great Kankakee

Birds by the millions would come through in summer
here the ducks and the swans and the herons held sway
They'd rise from the grasses and as they would pass
they'd block out the sun as they winged on their way
The Pottowatomie lived here and traveled the marshes
canoed through the myriad islands and streams.
They fished and they harvested plants from the water
They lived here, they loved here, they died and they dreamed

chorus

When the hot summer sun here had dried all the grasses
and the floor of the forest was covered with leaves
incredible fires would rage through the country
the ground itself burned, leaving only the trees
The greatest of old tress could withstand the fires
and stand through the winter, charred black and bare
then in the spring, an explosion of color
under distant green canopies hung in the air

chorus

Sit here and listen, I'll tell you a story
about how this land was not so long ago
I'll sing you a song of a mighty old river
The natives here called him the Long Wide and Slow
This river once covered these counties all over
in springtime, when the waters ran high
Now a map barely shows him, a bit of a scribble
a drainage ditch under a bright blue sky
© John Kennedy 1990

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