Buffy Sainte-Marie Removes Cree Ancestry Claims from Website Biography

According to the artist, the changes were made to protect those who have defended her in the wake of the CBC investigation

Photo: Bryan Ledgard

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Nov 30, 2023

Buffy Sainte-Marie's official website includes a biography section, which now no longer claims that the singer-songwriter/activist is a Cree woman "likely" to have been born on the Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan.

The changes to the biographic material come in the wake of CBC's investigation into Sainte-Marie's Indigenous ancestry published last month, wherein the broadcaster alleged to have found the artist's birth certificate. Signed by an attending physician, the document reportedly indicated that she was born in Massachusetts, with both parents and the baby being listed as white.

Sainte-Marie wrote in a statement to CBC via email that she had removed the material from her website biography to curb the "criticism, threats and abuse" to supporters who have publicly defended her in light of the report.

"I have an obligation to protect them," she said. "And it is for that reason alone that I have limited my public engagement and removed facts from my website that you are now trying to use to build more controversy."

The Wayback Machine's digital archive shows Sainte-Marie's website biography as having twice described her as a "Cree singer-songwriter" as recently as November 7. It also claimed that she "is believed to have been born in 1941 on the Piapot First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan and taken from her biological parents when she was an infant," which has now been deleted.

Other removed claims include that of her being the first Indigenous person to ever win an Oscar for writing the song "Up Where We Belong" for An Officer and a Gentleman, as well as her 1998 recipiency of the Native Americans in Philanthropy Louis T. Delgado Award for Native American Philanthropist of the Year.

As CBC notes, the following sentence has also been removed: "In today's climate of damaging #fakenews and toxic hubris, Buffy Sainte-Marie's incisive honesty, clarity and intelligent compassion stand out in sharp relief."

The acting chief of the Piapot First Nation, Ira Lavallee, has called for Sainte-Marie to take a DNA test. "That's something that anyone in my community can do and would not have fear of doing because we know who we are and what we are, and it's easily provable through a DNA test," he told the broadcaster. "If Buffy did that, that's one thing that could clear all this up."

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