Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


Photograph of Buffy Sainte-Marie

View larger

Buffy Sainte-Marie is a Cree singer-songwriter, guitarist, mouth-bow player, artist, and educator who was born February 20, 1941, at the Piapot Reserve in Saskatchewan, Canada. Orphaned when a few months old, she was raised by a part Micmac family in Massachusetts and later adopted by a Cree family related to her biological parents. As a college student in the early 1960s, Sainte-Marie became known as a social commentator, initially in New York's Greenwich Village, then internationally in Europe, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan. Her songs addressing the plight of Native American people such as 'My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying" (1964) generated the most controversy. Several of her songs became widely known in versions by other artists, including "Until It's Time for You to Go" (recorded by Elvis Presley and many others), "Up Where We Belong" (the theme for the film An Officer and a Gentleman, which won an Academy Award in 1983 for best song), and the antiwar song "The Universal Soldier" (used as an anthem for the 1960s peace movement).

Sainte-Marie is also noted for her work as a digital artist and as an educator. Her regular performances on the TV show Sesame Street (1975–81) taught countless children that Indians still exist. The Cradleboard Teaching Project, founded by Sainte-Marie in 1996, enables mainstream school systems to communicate with Native American communities via computer. Currently residing in Hawaii, Sainte-Marie frequently travels to make recordings, perform concerts, and lecture on a variety of topics, including electronic music, digital art, and Native American women's issues.

Paula Conlon University of Oklahoma

Miller, Mark. "Buffy Sainte-Marie." In Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, 2nd ed., edited by Helmut Kallman et al. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.

Stawarz, Jean. "Songs of Conscience: A Dialogue with Buffy Sainte- Marie." Runner (1994): 26-39.

Previous: Rock and Roll Music | Contents | Next: Schools of Music

XML: egp.mus.041.xml