Sunset Laws

You wanna understand what happens today
You gotta know how things got this way
So let’s back up from the present date
And examine the history of a state
As with the rest of this stolen land
Mass murder is how it began
From the first days of the Territory
Only white men could own property

And to them the land was given for free
From Wallowa to the Pacific Sea
Taken by force and then handed out
Leaving no room for the slightest doubt
That a White Homeland was the intent
And to make it certain just what that meant
Signs were posted that clearly read
Leave by dusk or end up dead

Best get out of town before the sun goes down
Because if you’re not white that’s probable cause
Here in the land of the Sunset Laws

The Oregon Territory’s Constitution
Explained the methods of exclusion
It wasn’t subtle – it was all too clear
Nonwhite people not welcome here
And when Oregon joined the USA
It entered the union with laws this way
Salem could fine and lash and kill
To enforce the white land’s will


After the war of gray and blue
Exclusion Laws were passed anew
They weren’t repealed for sixty more years
After the Klansman rule of Walter Pierce
It feels a lot like nothing’s changed
Looks a lot like a firing range
Who owns the land, who keeps the order
From Portland to the California border