Ten Little Indians is an American children’s counting-out rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 12976. The term “Indians” in this sense is referring to Native Americans.
In 1868, songwriter Septimus Winner adapted it as a song, then called “Ten Little Injuns”, for a minstrel show.
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The modern lyrics for the children’s rhyme are:
One little, two little, three little Indians
Four little, five little, six little Indians
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
Ten little Indian boys.
Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
Seven little, six little, five little Indians
Four little, three little, two little Indians
One little Indian boy.
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Songwriter Septimus Winner created an elaborated version of the children’s song, called “Ten Little Injuns“, in 1868 for a minstrel show.
Ten little Indians standin’ in a line,
One toddled home and then there were nine;
Nine little Indians swingin’ on a gate,
One tumbled off and then there were eight.
Eight little Indians gayest under heav’n.
One went to sleep and then there were seven;
Seven little Indians cuttin’ up their tricks,
One broke his neck and then there were six.
Six little Indians all alive,
One kicked the bucket and then there were five;
Five little Indians on a cellar door,
One tumbled in and then there were four.
Four little Indians up on a spree,
One got fuddled and then there were three;
Three little Indians out on a canoe,
One tumbled overboard and then there were two
Two little Indians foolin’ with a gun,
One shot t’other and then there was one;
One little Indian livin’ all alone,
He got married and then there were none.
The following version of the song was included in the first film version of And Then There Were None (1945), which largely took Green’s lyrics and replaced the already sensitive word “nigger” with “Indian” (in some versions “soldiers”):
Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one of them and then there were five.
Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun;
One got all frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Indian boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself and then there were none.