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)