Buffy Sainte-Marie, OC (born Beverly Sainte-Marie, February 20, 1941) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues of indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her singing and writing repertoire also includes subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism.
In 1997, she founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project, an educational curriculum devoted to better understanding Native Americans. She has won recognition and many awards and honours for both her music and her work in education and social activism.
Buffy Sainte-Marie was born in 1941 on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada. She was later adopted, growing up in Massachusetts, with parents Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie. She attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, earning degrees in teaching and Oriental philosophy and graduating in the top ten of her class. She went on to earn a Ph.D in Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts.
In 1964, on a return trip to the Piapot Cree reserve in Canada for a powwow she was welcomed and (in a Cree Nation context) adopted by the youngest son of Chief Piapot, Emile Piapot and his wife, who added to Sainte-Marie's cultural value of, and place in, native culture.
In 1968, she married surfing teacher Dewain Bugbee of Hawaii; they divorced in 1971. She married Sheldon Wolfchild from Minnesota in 1975; they have a son, Dakota "Cody" Starblanket Wolfchild. That union also ended in divorce. She married her co-writer for "Up Where We Belong," Jack Nitzsche, on March 19, 1982. He died from a heart attack on August 25, 2000. As of 2007, she lives in Hawaii.
Although not a Bahá'í herself, she became an active friend of the Bahá'í Faith by the mid-1970s when she is said to have appeared in the 1973 Third National Bahá'í Youth Conference at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and has continued to appear at concerts, conferences and conventions of that religion since then. In 1992, she appeared in the musical event prelude to the Bahá'í World Congress, a double concert "Live Unity: The Sound of the World" in 1992 with video broadcast and documentary. In the video documentary of the event Sainte-Marie is seen on the Dini Petty Show explaining the Bahá'í teaching of progressive revelation. She also appears in the 1985 video "Mona With The Children" by Douglas John Cameron. However, while she supports a universal sense of religion, she does not subscribe to any particular religion.
Sainte-Marie claimed in a 2008 interview at the National Museum of the American Indian that she had been blacklisted by American radio stations and that she, along with Native Americans and other native people in the Red Power movements, were put out of business in the 1970s.
In a 1999 interview at Diné College with a staff writer with the Indian Country Today, Sainte-Marie said "I found out 10 years later, in the 1980s, that President Lyndon B. Johnson had been writing letters on White House stationery praising radio stations for suppressing my music" and "In the 1970s, not only was the protest movement put out of business, but the Native American movement was attacked."
As a result of this blacklisting led by (among others) Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and Nashville disc jockey Ralph Emery (following the release of I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again), Sainte-Marie said "I was put out of business in the United States". .