Buffy Sainte-Marie – My Perspective

When Buffy’s song ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ first hit me in the centre of my soul, oh so long ago, a gigantic tear washed over my entire being. Her song had such power over me, for different reasons. One reason was that the book of the same title ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ by Dee Brown, was the first book I had ever read from cover to cover. Man, what a life-altering read it was for me! Another reason was that Anna Mae Aquash (the Mi’kmaq activist, killed execution style on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota at 30 years of age) is mentioned in Buffy’s song. To this very day, I keep a photo of Anna Mae in my home but it was there before Buffy’s song came out. I saw/see Anna Mae as one of the people who demanded, because of how she lived and died, that my activist spirit step forward. Buffy’s song brought it all to a head and I became a fan of Buffy who called herself ‘a sweet little Cree” (I heard her saying it in an interview back then).

Question, true or false: Is Buffy Sainte-Marie Indigenous? Yes or no?
A simple DNA test done on her would instantly declare which answer is the correct one! As a long-time human rights activist I have fought for and have made enemies, in demanding that all of us, you, me, Joe Blow, whoever, is innocent of any and all charges against them until proven otherwise, beyond a reasonable doubt. As for Buffy’s claim to have an Indigenous bloodline and the contrary view presented on the Fifth Estate, there is no doubt now in most peoples eyes that Buffy is a human being of only Caucasian ancestry.

I can say it is true that Buffy inspired and motivated, thousands upon thousands of Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island since her career began in 1963. However for me, so too did the quotes of our long dead chiefs and those of our ancestors also bring that gigantic tear to wash over my heart and soul with much more force than Buffy’s songs ever did.

Examples: “Life is the flash of a firefly in the night, it is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is that little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Spoken by Blackfoot Chief Crowfoot on his deathbed. Another example: “The sap coursing through the trees of the forest carry the memories of our ancestors”, Chief Seattle. These quotes touched the universe of my heart and even inspired and motivated me to stay strong in keeping my vow of sobriety. Our People are wise and strong! It’s them we need, not imposters!

What is greater to us as Indigenous Peoples than a real sense of who we are as human beings? So much emotional and spiritual harm was done to us because of the oppression heaped on us by the Indian Act, that today, in 2023, we are still trying to discover our identity as it was long ago.

What if our world was such that white folks (like Buffy) were our only source of discovering who and what we are? What would it say about us if this was the case? I’m sorry if anything I said in this blog has hurt anyone’s feelings but this is how I see it. I speak my truth while standing in the heart of Anishinabe Algonquin never-surrendered territory. I have a “right” to do so, do I not?

Also on my mind, I believe there is a connection:

For over 23 days now, the state of Israel has been dropping bombs by the hundreds on Gaza, in retaliation for an attack by Hamas fighters who, according to news reports, entered Israel to viciously and mercilessly kill over 1,400 Israeli citizens, children included.

News sources also say that over 2,100 Palestinian children are now dead because of Israeli bombardment on Gaza. We must ask ourselves, whose hands are stained with the blood of those innocent children? How does a world leader cleanse his/her hands of the blood of children, mangled by bombs? Any world leader who does not object and demand that a ceasefire occur a.s.a.p. will spiritually face a reckoning at a future time, of this I have no doubt. It is being called a “war”. Is this war? Really?

The people of Palestine have no bomb shelters to go to to feel safe from the bombs dropping on them. I’m not OK with this. I want Canadian leaders to object to bombs killing children. I will contact my Member of Parliament (a Liberal) and let her know my vote next election is going to the NDP unless the Liberals do what is right. I ask that all readers of this blog do the same.

Keep the Circle Strong,

South Wind (Albert Dumont)

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6 Responses to Buffy Sainte-Marie – My Perspective

  1. Beth Borris says:

    The history of Israel is a long and convoluted one. They had for thousands of years been exiles searching for their promised land. The State of Israel was their reward. In a sense, many of us are searching for our “promised land” , a metaphor for the home of our soul.
    What saddens me is that despite being victims of a horrendous holocaust… truly the greatest example of human depravity in my lifetime…so many Jews have chosen a leader who can feel justified in continuing in the extermination of innocent children and women so that the Hamas, terrorists without a doubt, guilty of murder
    of innocents as well, can be wiped off the face of the earth. What a sad sorry statement of humanity.
    I agree, a ceasefire is necessary immediately. Then, Why not just give Gaza back to the Palestinians and be content with that?

    • Michelle Walrond says:

      Palestinians are the indigenous people of the land that is now, and always has been called Israel. In ancient times, Palestine was the capital of Israel. Palestinians are Semitic people, just like Israelis. Abraham was the father of Hebrews and Arabs. To Zionist Jews, Arabs are the brown cousins nobody likes to talk about.

      Europeans and Americans gave a large, valuable portion of Palestinian land to European Zionist Jews, gave them trillions of dollars in aid, and eventually, armed them with every weapon imaginable including nuclear weapons. Israeli settlers stole Palestinian land with IDF protection. Palestinians who resisted had their wells poisoned, homes bombed, farms burned and families were even bulldozed in their homes, driving the survivors to reservations called the West Bank, the Occupied Territories and Gaza Strip. There are displaced Palestinians in every country on Earth. They have been denied the right of return. Millions of Palestinians have been living as stateless refugees for 75 years.
      Those who live in the Occupied Territories, Gaza and the West Bank live under a repressive apartheid regime, where they are deprived of basic human rights, natural resources and protection of law.
      Palestinian land defenders were called terrorists and accused them of denying “Israel’s right to exist”.
      (WTF is that supposed to mean anyway. It’s like saying people of color deny white supremacists’ right to exist! We could deny all we want, it doesn’t change the power they unjustly wield.)

      70 % of the Palestinian people are Sunni, 20% Christian, 10% Shia. HAMAS is a Shia organization, backed by Iran, that the Israeli government financed against the wishes of the Palestinian people.
      The Israelis know that HAMAS would never get the support of the neighboring Sunni Arab nations. Supporting the smallest group over the larger is just one of numerous ways the Israelis destabilize every attempt for Palestinian statehood.
      Netanyahu’s party is comprised of only about 20% of Israelis. They are the MAGAts of the Middle East. They openly declare their intention to “eliminate all Arabs from the land of Israel”.
      Netanyahu might have been heading to jail, if HAMAS had not attacked.

      Like most dealings between Indigenous Peoples and invaders, numerous treaties have been made and broken.
      Human Rights Watch and every other legitimate social justice organization, including non-governmental Jewish groups, oppose the apartheid regime in Israel and the genocide of Palestinians.
      Every injustice, cruelty and barbarity that has been wrought upon the First Nations of North America over the last 5 centuries has been wrought upon the indigenous Palestinians in the 75 years since the State of Israel was established.
      Except now, the invaders, terrorists and thieves have convinced the world that it’s in their best interests to let the genocide happen.
      The world is watching. For the first time in history the atrocity of invasion, colonialism, apartheid and genocide are happening right before the eyes of 90% of the human race.
      Will it be different this time?


    • Rob Gray says:

      That’s a really old propaganda talking point, long made to excuse the Zionist genocidal incursions and theft. “They’ve been fighting uncontrollably for thousands of years”. My God, has no one read European and American history?

      If the Zionists in N. America are going to say they get to kill off millions of Palestinians and steal all their homes because someone else lived where they lived 1000 years ago, everybody that ain’t Native American better get tf off all these territories.

      They call those people who gathered together to stand up against brutal annihilation, “terrorists”. Well, they created those ‘terrorists’, who are no where near as horrid and horrifying as the Zionist genocide that’s been enacted on them for 75 yr.

      The ought to listen to what their own Torah say, as many, many Jewish people have attempted to get them to do for 75 yrs. Now, they beat their own for standing up to their brutalities. Unforgiveable.

  2. John Gaudaur Savage says:

    Buffy vs Bluffy is a debate that focuses to much on just one person. How we deal with this news says a lot about us. Even if we like her art and advocacy, it’s hard to wonder if it was all a disguise. Like you said, a genetics test would have easily answered the question of her true origin. Perhaps she didn’t want evidence and preferred her own truth. Imposters are all around. Some are narcissists, who develop false narratives to exploit. The good deeds they hide behind, are just part of their disguise. They feel no shame upon being discovered, because they would have felt shame throughout the years they lived their lie. Why do some want to support such people? How can this be acceptable? There are many other issues in the world to deal with, but this is important to our collective identity, so we must be vigilant against those who exploit our history, our identity, and our culture. The Federal Government is a perfect example of hiring so-called self-identified Indigenous people without any proof. This helps them achieve their hiring quotas without putting the work into recruiting and retaining real Indigenous people. Non- Indigenous people take our work and sell it back to us, like how Kichi Sibi Trails a non- Indigenous led organization run by a non Indigenous person did by taking my work and promoting it as his own. A condo development using an Algonquin name isn’t Indigenous, but benefits from exploitng community goodwill. Whether we accept these things or not says who we are, so when one asks if I support Buffy, I cannot unless she can prove her truth vs what we now know. If I supported such behaviour, I’d have to support the overall theft we’ve felt as Metis, First Nations, and Inuit.

  3. Michelle Walrond says:

    This discussion of Buffy St. Marie’s lineage breaks my heart.
    In the early 60s in Philadelphia, we little Black kids thought “American Indians” were extinct. So, in an act of defiance against white people (who we knew wanted to exterminate us, too), when we played “cowboys and Indians”, the Indians won.
    When I got in school, the teachers emphasized only white history, so, though I knew by then Native Americans existed, I figured they had been assimilated, like us. Nonetheless, we admired Natives because they fought against the Europeans. We gave ourselves nicknames like Cochise and Geronimo, names we got from movies, but, since we knew nothing of Africa, and we were the only people of color around, why not try to raise our esteem by trying to identify with the only people of color who had fought against the white men, and even the white guys had to acknowledge that, had they not been more violent, dishonest and inhumane than anyone thought possible, we, I mean they, would be the rulers, and we’d all be free.
    But then I heard Buffy St. Marie on the radio and my heart sang with joy. ‘They’re here! But where?”
    I didn’t hear about Wounded Knee or any Native American history until Buffy sang about it.
    Her music made me love Native Americans, still sight unseen, because of her deep love for them. In the 70s “Roots” came out and the history of how Native Americans helped enslaved people escape to Canada. In the 80s, I finally met a Native American for the first time. We listened to Buffy and she explained what the song was about.
    I wished I had grown up knowing that history. Nothing I’ve ever learned or experienced with the Natives I’ve met made me think that if someone had lived and understood the culture and loved and respected it as much as she did, they wouldn’t accept them. How did Native communities identify who was Native and who wasn’t 100 years ago?
    With all due respect…
    I know of people who are Natives and hate their identity. They think assimilation with non-Native culture is the way to success. Buffy proved them wrong and gave all of us a reason to appreciate Native people and culture.
    We have a saying, “Skin folk don’t mean kinfolk”.
    Meaning, just because a person is the same race, doesn’t mean they’re your ally. In Buffy’s case, I respectfully submit that the inverse is the case. Even if Buffy was white, I give testimony to the fact that she did more for me to raise appreciation and awareness of Indigenous Peoples than anyone.

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