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Oscar Winning Folk Singer Buffy Sainte-Marie Accused of Faking Indigenous Roots

Oscar Winning Folk Singer Buffy Sainte-Marie Accused of Faking Indigenous Roots

It looks like we have another fake Indian on our hands: Canadian folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie

Besides Lizzie Warren, why are all the fakes in Canada?


Sainte-Marie is one of Canada’s most celebrated “Indigenous” singers, maybe the world.

Sainte-Marie appeared on Sesame Street in 1975 when the program wanted to show Indigenous culture to children.

She told the kids and the audience she belonged to the Cree tribe while showing them jewelry and beadwork.

Sainte-Marie won an Oscar in 1983 for the song “Up Where We Belong” from An Officer and a Gentleman, supposedly the first Indigenous person to win one.

The National Arts Centre in Ottawa hosted a concert in Sainte-Marie’s honor in 2022.

Anishinabe musician ShoShona Kish claimed: “Buffy Sainte-Marie has led the way for Indigenous music on this beautiful land since her first album.”

Documentaries. Meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II. Five-part CBC podcast. Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. Aboriginal Peoples’ Choice Music Awards

FOUR Indigenous lifetime achievement awards.

Couldn’t Decide on Indian Heritage

One problem:

However, almost 50 years after stepping onto Sesame Street, the iconic singer-songwriter’s claims to Indigenous ancestry are being contradicted by members of her own family and an extensive CBC investigation.

Late last year, CBC received a tip that Sainte-Marie is not of Cree ancestry but, in fact, has European roots. She is the latest high-profile public figure whose ancestry story has been contradicted by genealogical documentation, including her own birth certificate, historical research and personal accounts — the latest chapter in the complex and growing debate around Indigenous identity in Canada.

Sainte-Marie’s lawyer said the folk singer has never “personally misrepresented her ancestry or any details about her personal history to the public.”

At first, Saint-Marie described herself as an American Indian. Then “full-blooded Algonquin Indian.” Then she was born “a Micmac (Mi’kmaq) Indian in Maine. Then she called herself half-Micmac.

Finally, in 1963, Sainte-Marie settled on being Cree.

In 1971, Sainte-Marie wrote in a book: “When I go home to the Cree reserve in Canada where I was born, I usually spend a few hours of every day teaching the Cree language.”

Los Angeles Time Magazine in 1986: “I was born on the Piapot Cree reservation near Craven, Sask.”

Sainte-Marie said Albert and Winifred Santamaria adopted and raised her near Boston.

She later “reunited with her Piapot relatives and adopted into the community.”

In one song, Sainte-Marie sings, “Take me back to where my heart belongs — Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan.”

In a recent Facebook video, Sainte-Marie said she remains “a proud member of the Native community with deep roots in Canada.” But she also “said there are many things she doesn’t know about her ancestry.”

Records Don’t Lie

Heidi St. Marie, daughter of Buffy’s older brother Alan, said her aunt was born in the United States, not Canada: “She’s clearly not Indigenous or Native American.”

The CBC reported that Sainte-Marie’s birth certificate states she was born in Stoneham, MA. Race of mother, father, and baby? White. Arthur’s family changed their name from Santamaria to St. Marie due to “anti-Italian prejudice that developed during the Second World War.”

My dad adopted me. Once it became official, Illinois changed my birth certificate to show him as my father and my new last name.

However, nothing else changed on my birth certificate. I do not know if it would change everything as Massachusetts would have had to in Sainte-Marie’s case.

Sainte-Marie could pull off the show because her father’s family is from Italy. My mom’s dad’s family is from southern Italy. All the kids look like the typical southern Italian: dark olive skin, black hair, and black eyes. My brother got the Italian looks. I did not for some weird reason.

Anyway, Sainte-Marie’s family, at times, tried to call her out. None of them believed she was adopted or had Indian blood in her. They all thought it was a publicity stunt and supported her.

It sounds like they did it because once Sainte-Marie took off, she could afford the big lawyers:

Whispers began to swirl that Sainte-Marie had threatened family members, including her own brother, with legal action or worse if they publicly questioned her ancestry claims.

“I remember those stories growing up … ‘Don’t talk about it. We don’t want any trouble…. Let her do what she wants to do because we don’t want to lose our house. We don’t want lawyers coming and suing us for defamation,’” Santamaria said.

CBC traveled to Stoneham, MA, in search of Sainte-Marie’s birth certificate.

Beverley Jean Sanatamarie:

Town clerk Maria Sagarino showed CBC the secure vault that contains all Stoneham birth certificates.

She flipped through a 1941 binder until she reached Feb. 20 — certificate No. 49.

She pulled Sainte-Marie’s original, handwritten birth certificate from its clear plastic sleeve. It was signed by Dr. Herbert Land — the same doctor who delivered Sainte-Marie’s sister, Lainey, in 1948. He certified that Sainte-Marie was born at 3:15 a.m. to Albert and Winifred Santamaria.

“This is the original that came from the hospital,” said Sagarino, who has worked at the Stoneham town hall for more than 20 years. “There’s no refuting this because it’s in my custody from my files in my vault.”

In her email to CBC, Sainte-Marie’s lawyer said: “Research has also revealed that children adopted by parents in Massachusetts were commonly issued new Massachusetts birth certificates with the name of their adoptive parents.”

CBC asked Sagarino if that happened in this case.

She said no.

“It doesn’t appear that she was adopted in any way, shape or form,” Sagarino said.

She said if Sainte-Marie had truly been adopted from Saskatchewan, the file would contain her legal adoption records and proof she entered the United States.

Instead, her file only contains an original Stoneham birth certificate.


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Next you’ll be telling me Joey Bishop wasn’t an Indian.

I will just fall out of my chair dead if Espera Oscar de Corti is also found out not to be an Indian.

You know what? I was born in America so I am going to start calling myself native-American. I wasn’t born anywhere else after all.

The CBC should do the same for Obama.

Won’t happen in my lifetime….

She looks like an indian to me.

Seriously!!! Did I get on infowars by mistake?..with all the legal shenanigans going on with Trump, gag orders, prosecution for exercising Constitutional rights, corruptly biased judges that are pulling never before seen ( at least for me) courtroom stunts, as in cross examining witnesses, answering questions for those testifying, etc, and LI somehow thinks that some “singer” from the last century, that probably 92% of the country has never heard of, faking her resume is is news?

    rhhardin in reply to MarkS. | November 17, 2023 at 7:55 am

    It started when Crayola removed Indian Red from their crayon box.

    CommoChief in reply to MarkS. | November 17, 2023 at 8:17 am

    It’s an important contextual story that reinforces and highlights several issues in contemporary society.
    1. Clamoring to be a viewed as a ‘victim’
    2. This undercuts the arguments for oppressor v oppressed as anything other than a power grab based on a cynical exploitation of misplaced guilt
    3. This smokes out the true believing kool aid drinkers who will seek any excuse to dismiss the evidence and will instead promote emotion/feelings over facts/evidence

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to MarkS. | November 17, 2023 at 8:42 am

    If you hadn’t noticed, not everything is about that loser Trump. Other things do happen in the world at large that people might be interested to hear about. And seriously, who gives an eff about Trump these days. Old news. Don’t need to hear about Little Donnie’s legal woes day after day. That’s for sure.

    healthguyfsu in reply to MarkS. | November 17, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    It’s possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to MarkS. | November 17, 2023 at 4:07 pm

    “Did I get on infowars by mistake?”

    No. “Entertainment Tonight”.

Woke progressive lefties are such a fraud. Unity of the oppressed. lol

Gordon Lightfoot didn’t need to play these stupid games. I guess though it helps your career when you lack talent. Ask Obama.

With fake credentials like that she coulda been a Harvard professor or MA Senator.

    Chieftain in reply to Q. | November 17, 2023 at 8:59 pm

    Or Colorado professor or Dartmouth Dean, or University of California (Berkeley/Riverside), or KU, or Oregon State, or…

“Besides Lizzie Warren, why are all the fakes in Canada?”

Marie Louise Cruz (aka Sacheen Littlefeather): American.

Espera Oscar de Corti (aka Iron Eyes Cody): American.

Stupid hippies believed her because of her beadwork and jewelry?


    NotCoach in reply to smooth. | November 17, 2023 at 10:28 am

    We all know who the real racists are. They stereotype everyone based on appearance. When one’s life is nothing but identity politics one can’t seem to see anything past race.

Lemme guess: Democrat? That was a rhetorical question, of course.

Makes me sad. Her Nashville album (I’m gonna be a country girl again) has some great songs and studio musicians.

    rhhardin in reply to Tim1911. | November 17, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    I just listened, the band is good and she’s okay but not very accurate on pitch at the beginnings of notes. Nice fast minimal vibrato.

    I always classed her among Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell but not up there appealwise.

This story is 3 weeks old.

So she’s another Italindian, like that Wampanoag leader dude from RI.
Well, why can’t Buffy be Cree? She could be Buster or even Butch by just saying so.
I myself am a Venusian. My pronouns are ᚅ and ᚊ. They’re ultrasonic, so address me with great care, or you’re a hater.

Victor Immature | November 18, 2023 at 5:35 am

She was actually fathered by the guy with the tear running down his cheek in the 70s littering psa. I hope someone goes through the Sesame St footage and finds her teaching kids “Cree” by sticking “um” on the end of every other word. Then she-um toast.