This is unimportant to American Indians. When we are born is meaningless. How we travel our circle of life is important. Almost all of our peoples think of stages of life; childhood, adolescence, adult and elder. Those are earmarks of learning and wisdom.
If to choose a song which best symbolizes this life of Indian girl Buffy Sainte-Marie my pick would be "You Got To Run - Spirit Of The Wind"
Whether you're woman or whether you're man
Sometimes you got to take a stand
Just because you think you can
Oh you got to run you got to run
Buffy is enjoying her elder stage of life and she is still running like the wind. She is distinctly Indian, a Cree girl flying with wild winds along her circle of life.
"...to see Native American people alongside the dinosaurs dead and not existing, and my teacher and my classmates all believing that there was no such thing anymore. I knew I existed. I wanted to exist." - Buffy Sainte-Marie
Going on five-hundred years the American Indian genocide continues to devastate lives of our Indian peoples. Buffy Sainte-Marie suffers a severance of her cultural roots as do all our tribal peoples. Researching dozens of alleged biographies I discover white Christian writers fabricate their own fantasies about the life of this famed Cree girl.
Years of researching and following Sainte-Marie finally I realize I must rely on my Indian instincts to chase after truth of Buffy Sainte-Marie. These truths I learn leave me more uncertain about her circle of life, "I must discover truth White Man cannot see to taint."
Buffy often refers to "this is real" and "this is my way". Chasing after truth my way of discovering reality is to find same experiences of both Buffy Sainte-Marie and our family then comparing those events of Buffy's life with our own same life events. Examples are feeling alienated from society and this loss of family bloodline history to the genocide. I am able to compare my own truths inside my head with those shared by Sainte-Marie to test if what I discover is actual truth. We Indians are well known for our being truth speakers, this way of mine is a process of many others to be sure we speak truth.
Traditional American Indians constantly work at convincing society we are real and exist. We use truth as both a tool and weapon.
My focus is on her birth, childhood and teen years. This is where innocence and truth is found. These are our formative years when we search for who we are and learn from our elders. This is a time our distinct personalities become lifetime permanent.
White Man is blind to subtle traits of Indians, both genetic and learned. A quick glance at her I know she is full blood Cree, this is unmistakable through Indian eyes. Through eyes of White Man we Indians all look alike; immoral savages.
"She is Cree, and to be born Cree in the 1940s in Canada was to be a person who was not always counted, at least not in a formal and legal fashion. Birth records from the time, particularly on reserves, were spotty, and there are countless reports of records being lost or destroyed. The children who, like Buffy Sainte-Marie, were adopted or taken had their birth stories erased, stolen by people whose motivations were rooted in misconceptions and who thought their whiteness and their faith made them superior."
- Andrea Warner, "Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography", 2018
Warner is the only writer authorized to write about Buffy. In every sense this authoress is sharing words of Sainte-Marie who reveals years long guarded truths. Warner's book is based upon months of intense interviews and discussions. She well chases truth.
All which is truthfully known is Buffy Sainte-Marie is born around 1940 to 1942 on the Piapot Reservation in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan. This is unknown if Buffy is willingly adopted out by her Cree parents or if white Christians forcibly take her which is most common during the era. Playing odds of the time, this is more likely when Buffy is a few months old she is forcibly taken from parents and home by self-righteous Christian missionaries.
"The combination of religious hubris and colonizer supremacy shaped the belief Indigenous people needed to adapt to white society, and while many Indigenous children were sent to residential schools, others were taken from their parents and adopted into white homes. Sainte-Marie was adopted out of her reserve – for reasons that are still unclear, muddied by time and a lack of accurate records – by Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie, a mechanic and a newspaper copy editor, respectively. They were a modest, visibly white family (though Winifred identified as part Mi'kmaq) who for much of Sainte-Marie's childhood lived in a trailer by Sebago Lake in Maine and in North Reading and Wakefield, Massachusetts."
- Andrea Warner
Mother Winifred Sainte-Marie claims to be Mi'kmaq much as Senator Elizabeth Warren claims to be Cherokee. An expression comes to mind, "Pretendian".
This is easy for me and other Indians to surmise and understand repercussions for Buffy having her family line knowledge severed. My momma dies when I am two. I still do not know who is my father other than he is full Ashalintubbi Choctaw blood.
Buffy speaks of White Man treating her as if Indians do not exist. She lives her life asserting her existence. Much of my live is the same; proving to society I do exist and aggressively demanding to be recognized for what I am, an American Indian.
A trait Buffy and I share is love of wild lands solace. We walk away from society then seek solitude of nature to sing, chant and assume a ceremonial trance state to ask our spirits to touch us with knowledge of our ancestors and our old ways. Virtually all traditional Indians perform our ceremonies to help us understand who we are. We look to our spirits and ancestors for truth of our circle of life. Ironically, many of our ceremonies remain federal criminal offenses. We Indians can be prosecuted and imprisoned for practicing our spiritual beliefs. Indians do not enjoy a Constitutional right to freedom of religion.
Those subtle notions which are impossible for White Man to see, upon explanation become easily visible even to the most racist of white Christians.
This Cree girl wraps herself and her life in everything Indian. She and I make this clear through clothing, "I am an Indian. I exist." Our homes, furnishings, bed cloth and curtains, all is clearly American Indian. We do exist and thrive. We are real.
Buffy aggressively asserts her Indian heritage through physical appearance. Two of us girls are in-your-face up front about our bloodline, we are aggressive about this. Her truth and my truth are the same and easy to see in our photographs.
"Halito! Chim achukma? Sa hochifo ut Taha. Chi hochifo nanta? Chahta chito fehna anumpuli li. Chahta imanumpa ish anumpola hinla ho?"
"Hello! Are you good? My name is Taha. What is your name? I speak big Choctaw. Do you speak Choctaw?"
White folks are knocked back a few steps when I slobber them with our native tongue.
Only enlightened observant are able to instantly realize the three of us in our family are Indian. Are you, the reader, able to see this? A quick glance at Buffy Sainte-Marie you readers know she is Indian. This is not so easy to see when Indians adapt to and live within this lack-of-common-sense modern world of pretentious White Man.
"Medicine Bird Singing", Buffy's Cree name, her true and real name, fervently respects and loves Mother Nature spirit who is infinitely more powerful than this puny fabricated fictional god of Christians who proclaim "in the name of God" to excuse their two-thousand years of abhorrent sexism, racism, brutality, rape, war and genocide.
We are children of Mother Nature. All things of our natural world are Her children. From crude oil washing ashore in Alaska to dying and dead wild life of the Gulf of Mexico to destruction and devastation of spiritual Standing Rock, Medicine Bird Singing is there somewhere in the fracas. For years Buffy is a fierce and powerful voice for our most revered spirit, Mother Nature.
This truth of Buffy's love of animals is a same truth as our family's love of animals. Inside her head is this animal truth, inside my head, a same truth. I know her truth just as I know my own truth; there is no difference, no disagreement. This is mutual truth animals are our sisters and brothers.
Our family celebrates when coyotes invade a neighborhood and city. We enjoy laughter learning of bears swimming in backyard pools. Raccoons raiding kitchen pantries is endearing for us. We are in awe of big cats boldly walking streets on the prowl. Most comical, squirrels tossing green pine cones at heads of stupid White Man.
This is Mother Nature asserting herself and reminding us She is the most powerful. This is same as Sainte-Marie asserting herself, "I am an Indian, I exist, I am real."
For thousands of years symbolism is critically important to our Indian peoples. We see symbols as real things, most often living things who are aware, who think and speak with us. Buffy enjoys an extraordinary imagination. Almost all traditional Indians do. She sees Big Bird of Sesame Street as a living person same as I view Diamond Man of Atlantic City as real and alive, more so than some boy standing behind me secretly eyeballing my backside with a gleam in his eyes and a tongue licking his lips.
This lively art of symbolism is at length discussed in my Sexy Petroglyphs essay. This is our Indian ancestors of ten-thousand years back speaking to us today with imaginative symbolism.
Buffy's words are equally symbolic as my own words. This is a truth we share in our heads. Looking at my truths is also having a glance at truths of Medicine Bird Singing. She litters her songs with clever symbolism same as I litter my writings.
Big Bird is alive and real. Diamond man is alive and real. So are we Indians; we exist.
Buffy, like me, like all traditional Indians, hears this tribal drumbeat of our peoples, of our earth and of our universe. This is a heartbeat of life. Her drumbeat in mind is the same thumping in my mind. We are one, we are in rhythmic beat.
Medicine Bird sings lovely songs, inspiring songs, frustrating songs, angry songs and songs a good ten-thousand years in the makings. My words are my songs. Buffy is a talented musician, I am a talented writer. She sings with a sweet songbird voice. I sing with a voice of a parched throat bullfrog trying to croak while sitting on an Oklahoma sun baked pile of mule manure. This is best I write rather than sing!
Nonetheless, this truth of our tribal drumbeat is same in her mind as in my mind.
During late teens and early adulthood Medicine Bird Singing enjoys enough knowledge and awareness to finally make a lifelong deep connection to our Indian peoples and to enjoy a real family, a loving family; she returns to her birth lands and her Cree peoples.
Younger, a good number of years later, I walk a same path as Buffy. Both my husband and I throughly immerse ourselves in our local Sixtowns Choctaw tribe. Sainte-Marie seeks council and guidance of Cree, our family seeks the same of Choctaw.
"Sainte-Marie told Samson and Pelletier that she had been born to an Indigenous family in Saskatchewan. Samson and Pelletier believed that she could be daughter of their friend Emile Piapot, the grandson of Chief Piapot of the Piapot Reserve, and his wife Clara Starblanket, daughter of the famed Chief Star Blanket of the File Hills Reserve in Saskatchewan's Qu'Appelle Valley. Emile and Clara had a daughter taken from the reserve around the time Sainte-Marie was born. Sainte-Marie went to a powwow that Piapot was at in Ontario, and the two were introduced. They spoke at length, and he invited her to come to the Piapot Reserve. She accepted the invitation and flew in a few months later to meet Emile's wife, Clara, and the rest of their large family. She stayed for several weeks and kept going back. She'd found another place to call home.
Around 1964, Sainte-Marie was officially adopted into the Piapot family, as is the cultural custom, and was given the Cree name Medicine Bird Singing. ‘But we never have known whether I'm a [biological] relative or not,' Sainte-Marie says. ‘I wrestled with that for a while.' It wasn't until she was pregnant with her son in 1976 that she truly came to terms with her dual identities. ‘The conclusion that I finally came to is that I had been lucky to have two families,' she says. ‘I had a family that had raised me and another who have been my family for my entire adult life. In each of those families, I may or may not be a blood relative. I have never known, and sometimes it bothered me a lot. But finally I accepted that I was lucky: I've had two families whom I loved in various ways. With my first family, I had a lot of issue with the men who were bullies and pedophiles. And with my second family, there was nothing like that; they were always good to me. So I had issues as a child, and some of them had to do with race or identity, but most really had to do with love and the way people treat each other.'"
- Andrea Warner, "Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography"
Buffy is famed for her "my way" attitude. My way of chasing after truth of Medicine Bird Singing is looking at and testing truths in my head then comparing to same known truths inside her head. If my truths are proven real, so are those truths of Buffy Sainte-Marie.
This Cree girl searches for her cultural roots and her family to connect with reality of her life and ancestors. Buffy is driven to prove she exists, is real, is not a pile of fossilized dinosaur bones buried a mile deep in Mother Earth. She is Indian, she is real, she exists.
Much credit is given to Andrea Warner and her biography. Thank you, Ms. Warner, for enlightening readers and fans alike with, truth.