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Canada’s most prominent Indigenous icon might not be Indigenous

  

Category:  Other

Via:  hallux  •  8 months ago  •  46 comments

By:   Amanda Coletta - WaPo

Canada’s most prominent Indigenous icon might not be Indigenous

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T




TORONTO — Michelle Good still has the ticket stub, a memento of the last concert she attended with her mother. It was April 29, 1996. Onstage at the Vogue Theater in Vancouver that night: Buffy Sainte-Marie.


Known for co-writing the Oscar-winning “Up Where We Belong,” writing the much-covered 1960s protest standard “Universal Soldier” and the years she appeared on “Sesame Street” — wearing traditional dress, she taught the Count to count in Cree, and in 1977 breastfed her baby on camera — Sainte-Marie has long been one of Canada’s most prominent Indigenous icons.



She’s been commemorated on Canadian postage stamps and performed for Queen Elizabeth II. “A one-name phenomenon, akin to Madonna, Cher, Elvis,” as a Globe and Mail column put it.


“Buffy did these extraordinary things that gave us a sense of encouragement and pride,” said Good, a Cree writer and lawyer whose family gathered to watch her appearances on late-night   American television. “A sense that our Indigeneity doesn’t necessarily stand in the way of great accomplishment.”



But a new report has   cast doubt on her claim to Indigenous ancestry, unleashing waves of emotions — shock,   denial, grief, anger — among Indigenous people here and reviving fraught conversations about what it means to identify as Indigenous in Canada.



“It’s a little bit like an earthquake ripped through the Indigenous community,” said Jean Teillet, an Indigenous rights lawyer in British Columbia and the author of an 86-page report commissioned by the University of Saskatchewan on Indigenous identity fraud and how to detect and deter it.



Good said she’d   heard whispers last year that Sainte-Marie might not actually be Indigenous but dismissed the idea as incredible. Then she saw the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. investigation.



“So many people are going to just feel so destroyed,” she thought.

The allegations about Sainte-Marie are the latest in a series in Canada and the United States in which prominent figures — in media, academia, law and beyond — have been accused of falsely claiming and appropriating Indigenous ancestry.


Sainte-Marie, 82, has said she was born on the Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan and adopted   as an infant by a White family in Massachusetts. She has claimed she was reunited with members of her Piapot family as an adult and adopted into their community in accordance with Cree law.



Asked about her early years in a 2018 NPR interview, Sainte-Marie spoke of the Sixties Scoop, a program through which the   government took Indigenous children from their families and put them up for adoption by non-Indigenous parents to assimilate them into Canada’s dominant non-Indigenous society. The program began a decade after her 1941 birth.



The CBC based its investigation on public records and interviews, including with estranged family members. A Massachusetts birth certificate says she was born Beverly Jean Santamaria to Albert and Winifred Santamaria — the parents she said adopted her. They had   Italian and English ancestry.



Canadian health expert who claimed to be ‘Morning Star Bear’ steps aside after Indigenous ancestry questioned

The investigation documented shifting statements that Sainte-Marie has   provided on her origins, including articles from early in her career in which she was described variously as American Indian, then Algonquin, then Mi’kmaq and then Cree — a sign, analysts said, that a person might be faking their identity.


In a statement before the investigation aired, Sainte-Marie said her “growing up mother,” who was part Mi’kmaq, told her she was adopted and was Indigenous, “but there was no documentation as was common” for Indigenous children born in the 1940s — a claim some analysts have disputed.



“All I can say is what I know to be true: I know who I love, I know who loves me,” Sainte-Marie said. “And I know who claims me. I may not know where I was born, but I know who I am.”



Delia Opekokew, a former lawyer for Sainte-Marie, said in a signed affidavit last month that she had “no doubt Buffy Sainte-Marie is an Indigenous women with community accountability through her Piapot family in Saskatchewan.” The affidavit was not included in the CBC investigation.


Opekokew, who is Cree, said she conducted interviews decades ago with knowledge keepers, elders and Sainte-Marie’s adopted kin, to help her assess the folk singer’s “rights to Indian status and Canadian citizenship.” She said she did not believe the U.S. birth certificate represented Sainte-Marie’s “identity and origins.”


Some Indigenous people, including some Sixties Scoop survivors, have said that their own birth records were missing, replaced or inaccurate. In some cases, they have said, the documents listed their adopted parents as their birth parents.



The CBC found other records, including Sainte-Marie’s marriage certificate, in which she or her Massachusetts family members certified that she was born there in 1941 to Albert and Winifred.


Asked about those records, her lawyer told the public broadcaster that she “is entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy about her personal genealogical and family history.”


Sainte-Marie herself has spoken critically of people who have embellished or lied about their Indigenous identity. She told the Los Angeles Times in 1986 of the reaction she got when she told people she was Cree.


“One out of 10 people will come up with the standard American line, ‘My grandmother was a full-blooded,’ quote, ‘Cherokee Indian princess,’” she said. “I just laugh. I know thousands of Cherokees, and I’ve never met one whose grandmother was an Indian princess. But it’s a shame, because it indicates people do have an interest, a pride in even the possibility that they may be part Indian.”


Debra Piapot and Ntawnis Piapot, descendants of Sainte-Marie’s adopted Cree parents, said in a statement that she is their family: “We chose her and she chose us.”


“To us, that holds far more weight than any paper documentation or colonial record-keeping ever could,” they said. “We are a sovereign nation, a sovereign people — Canada does not get to determine who we claim as family, and neither does the media.”


Some draw a distinction between being adopted into a Cree family under tribal law and customs, being granted citizenship to a First Nation and having Indigenous ancestry. The rules for obtaining citizenship vary depending on the Nation.



Indigenous people   say that falsely claiming and appropriating their identity siphons away resources and opportunities from Indigenous people and fuels harmful stereotypes in a country where the real trauma Indigenous people have experienced has often been dismissed.


People claiming Indigenous identity falsely are “taking up a lot of space where actual Native people should be,” said writer January Rogers, a member of the Mohawk/Tuscarosa from Six Nations of the Grand River. “And that’s not even mentioning the funds and the career opportunities that are targeted for Native people.”



Rogers recently published “Blood Sport,” a play in which people are made   to prove their Indigenous identity in a game show. She started work on it more than a year ago. She found much to draw on, she said, from cases in the headlines and in her personal life.




Good sees false claims “as another tool to assimilate and terminate us.”


“What it does is say that there is no meaning to Indigenous identity,”   she said. “It’s a real colonial violence in that it articulates an attitude where people think it’s okay to take everything from us: land, resources, spiritual practices and now our very souls through identity. There’s a tremendous harm.”


The Indigenous Women’s Collective said that Sainte-Marie had “engaged in a great deception” and called on the Juno Awards, Canada’s Grammys, to rescind her 2018 award for Indigenous music album of the year.


Kim TallBear, a professor of Native studies at the University of Alberta, said that “what has hurt a lot of people is that she would steal the particular story of some of the most vulnerable,” such as survivors of the Sixties Scoop.



After the investigation was published, 15 survivors from across Canada gathered on a Zoom call to support one another. Colleen Hele-Cardinal, co-founder of the Sixties Scoop Network, said no   one defended Sainte-Marie.



Many survivors seek as adults to reconnect with their home communities — a process that can be difficult and emotionally taxing. Sainte-Marie, she said, seemed to have it easy.



“It’s the betrayal of having somebody use the very thing that was taken from us — our culture and our communities — and to use it to benefit themselves in their career,” Hele-Cardinal said. “That was the biggest thing — the betrayal and how long it went on for.”



For many, grappling with the revelations is complicated.



Eden Fineday, publisher of IndigiNews, wrote in a column that it’s “always the Indigenous community that carries the burden of these revelations.” She asked what is accomplished when a woman of Sainte-Marie’s   age “is accused of lying to us for decades.”


“Who benefits?” she wrote. “Perhaps it is too soon to tell. For me, there is no freedom in these implied revelations, no greater truth that brings light to the darkness of the world. There are only more questions and the grief of betrayal.”



Good had a suggestion for Sainte-Marie.



“What I think she could do to ameliorate some of the harm is to just come forward with the truth,” she said. “And to apologize.”











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Hallux
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    8 months ago

Until this fleshes out I have no comment.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2  Kavika     8 months ago

Another mess, it is quite possible that she was part of the ''scoop'' same situation is in the US. Tribes differ from the government in adoption and who and who isn't indigenous. 

This should be an on going circus for some time.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
2.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @2    8 months ago

I read about this earlier in the week. wtf?

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Junior Quiet
3  afrayedknot    8 months ago

It will be telling who celebrates this revelation if…if confirmed. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1  Texan1211  replied to  afrayedknot @3    8 months ago
It will be telling who celebrates this revelation if…if confirmed. 

Why would anyone celebrate this in any way or for any reason?

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
3.1.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1    8 months ago

Here's a clue ... Pocahontas. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  Hallux @3.1.1    8 months ago

I don't think Pocahontas enters into this, but am more than willing to read how you link her and Buffy.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.2    8 months ago

... absolutely no possible common references to be found, is that what you're saying?

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.4  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @3.1.3    8 months ago
absolutely no possible common references to be found, is that what you're saying?

Are you actually READING what my post says?

I don't have the time to explain what everyone else can seem to get just from simply reading.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1.5  JohnRussell  replied to  Hallux @3.1.1    8 months ago
Here's a clue ... Pocahontas. 

Youve already made it too complicated for him. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1.6  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.4    8 months ago

actually I just wanted to see if you could post 3 ignorant comments in a row... congrats!

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.7  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.5    8 months ago
Youve already made it too complicated for him

Alright, YOU tell how Pocahontas has anything to do with it.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1.8  JohnRussell  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.7    8 months ago
Alright, YOU tell how Pocahontas has anything to do with it. Why would anyone celebrate this in any way or for any reason?

Ever heard of Elizabeth Warren?

Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas' at event honoring …

Web Nov 27, 2017  · By Ali Vitali. President Donald Trump revived his derogatory nickname for   Sen .   Elizabeth Warren , D-Mass., on Monday, referring to her as " Pocahontas " during an event honoring Native American ...

Any idea why Trump called her "Pocohontas"?

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.9  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.8    8 months ago
Any idea why Trump called her "Pocohontas"?

Trump said what he said. Get over it at some point in life.

Warren was pretending to be Indian to advance her career.

Are you claiming Trump was celebrating Warren?!?!

Ridiculous, of course!

And I actually prefer the name "Fauxcahontas" as being more accurate a description of her.

Now, WTF does all this crap have to do with the story or even with the damn comment I initially responded to???

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1.10  JohnRussell  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.9    8 months ago

You clearly need someone to connect all this for you like one of those kids "connect the dots" books. 

Out of charity I will explain it to you. Trump was "celebrating" the fact that he believed Warren was caught lying about being Native American.

If you need any more help connecting this to the seeded story go ask Trump, I give up. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.11  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.10    8 months ago
Out of charity I will explain it to you. Trump was "celebrating" the fact that he believed Warren was caught lying about being Native American.

I suppose it is entirely possible that Trump thought that because she lied!!!!!!!!!!

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1.12  JohnRussell  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.11    8 months ago

impasse  impasse  impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse impasse  impasse 

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Professor Principal
3.1.13  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.12    8 months ago

That's now how it works. you have to click on their avatar on the last comment they made to you. Just typing it doesn't count.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.14  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.12    8 months ago

For your "IMPASSE" to be effective, you must simply type the one single word--"IMPASSE" and nothing else!

You're welcome!

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.15  Texan1211  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @3.1.13    8 months ago

Isn't it rather weird how hard some folks have to work to get Trump into something having nothing to do with him?

Like Trump or anyone else really gives a shit what some old lady is claiming years later!

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3.1.16  Kavika   replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.11    8 months ago
I suppose it is entirely possible that Trump thought that because she lied!!!!!!!!!!

Just like Trump lied about his heritage for years as did his father and grandfather.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.17  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @3.1.16    8 months ago
Just like Trump lied about his heritage for years as did his father and grandfather.

Yippee.

WTF does that have to do with the article?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1.18  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @3.1.16    8 months ago
Just like Trump lied about his heritage for years as did his father and grandfather.

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.19  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.18    8 months ago

Again, what does it have to do with the article?

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3.1.20  Kavika   replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.17    8 months ago

It relates to comments regarding Pocahontas then Trump and finally your comment as follows:

I suppose it is entirely possible that Trump thought that because she lied!!!!!!!!!!

I believe as fair play a liar like Trump should be called out for lying about the thing he is attacking another for.  

MISSION COMPLETE.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.21  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @3.1.20    8 months ago
It relates to comments regarding Pocahontas then Trump and finally your comment as follows

I was hoping that you would realize that Pocahontas and Trump have zero to do with the article.  Oh, well.

I believe as fair play a liar like Trump should be called out for lying about the thing he is attacking another for. 

Well, great----IF this article had anything at all to do with that. But it just doesn't, despite the best efforts by some to make this, too, all about Trump, Trump, Trump.

MISSION COMPLETE.

Yes, another article trashed through the introduction of Trump, who has nothing to do with it other than occupying the entire attention spans of some.

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Principal
3.1.22  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.19    8 months ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3.1.23  Kavika   replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.21    8 months ago
I was hoping that you would realize that Pocahontas and Trump have zero to do with the article.  Oh, well.

And yet you commented on it. Oh, well.

Well, great----IF this article had anything at all to do with that. But it just doesn't, despite the best efforts by some to make this, too, all about Trump, Trump, Trump.

They must have succeeded here you are talking Trump.

Yes, another article trashed through the introduction of Trump, who has nothing to do with it other than occupying the entire attention spans of some.

Actually, the article isn't trashed if you'd quit talking about Trump. Also, there is some good information in the comments that relate to Sainte Marie, Cree, Indigenous etc. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.24  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @3.1.23    8 months ago
And yet you commented on it.

Yes, trying to get folks back on topic.

See how that works now?

They must have succeeded here you are talking Trump.

I imagine a world in which everyone knows the difference between dragging someone into a conversation initially and people responding to that.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1.25  devangelical  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @3.1.22    8 months ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4  JohnRussell    8 months ago

She has lived her life as a member of a tribe. That should be enough.

Delia Opekokew, a former lawyer for Sainte-Marie, said in a signed affidavit last month that she had “no doubt Buffy Sainte-Marie is an Indigenous women with community accountability through her Piapot family in Saskatchewan.” The affidavit was not included in the CBC investigation.
 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @4    8 months ago
She has lived her life as a member of a tribe. That should be enough.

It isn't, especially if her ties to a tribe can not be documented.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1    8 months ago

you claim to be a texan and every texan in my family would insist you aren't...

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @4.1.1    8 months ago
you claim to be a texan and every texan in my family would insist you aren't...

And I would care about that because..............?????

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4.1.3  JohnRussell  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1    8 months ago
She has lived her life as a member of a tribe. That should be enough.
It isn't, especially if her ties to a tribe can not be documented.

And this is any of your business how? 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.4  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.3    8 months ago
And this is any of your business how? 

Get back to me when you figure out how public forums work, mmkay?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
4.1.5  JohnRussell  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.4    8 months ago
how public forums work

Thats why im asking you the question. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.6  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.5    8 months ago

You DON'T know how they work?

People read comments and respond.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.7  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.2    8 months ago

got any documentation?

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.8  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @4.1.7    8 months ago
got any documentation?

No, I have no documentation proving I don't give a fuck what some of your family members may have said or will say.  Whatever they say holds no interest for me. Guess you'll just have to believe me--or not. It doesn't make any difference to me.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5  Kavika     8 months ago

The reports state that she is not indigenous not what tribe she belongs to. A First Nations person can be First Nation and not associate with any particular tribe or more than one. A DNA test will only show what % First Nations she is and it cannot tell from what tribe she came from. 

She was authenticated by a Cree lawyer and her adopted parents as being Cree. What is unknown to most non Indians is that the blood quantum rule is a rule by the Canadian and US governments not by the First Nations themselves. If, before that nonsense took over if a child was adopted by a Cree family, they were Cree, period. 

 
 
 
charger 383
Professor Silent
6  charger 383    8 months ago

3.1 is locked to prevent it from getting worse, charger

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
6.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  charger 383 @6    8 months ago

And yet you voted up #7?

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
7  Greg Jones    8 months ago

She's as phony as Lizzy Warren.

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
7.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Greg Jones @7    8 months ago

Maybe you should wait for a gene jury to rule on that.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
8  Buzz of the Orient    8 months ago

I met Buffy during the summer of 1964 when she came to Toronto to see the Mariposa Folk Festival.  It was then that I also met and became friends with Joni Anderson.  I thought Buffy looked more Indian than any Indian person I knew, and I knew quite a few.  I suppose a DNA test of the descendants of Albert and Winifred Santamaria who are noted to be her parents on a birth certificate as compared with Buffy's DNA might help to solve the mystery and either prove or disprove her allegations.  

 
 

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