BOMBSHELL allegations over the ancestry of singer and indigenous icon Buffy Sainte-Marie have left fans heartbroken.
The Oscar-winning folk singer became the first indigenous person to win an Academy Award and even appeared on Sesame Street in 1975 to explain Cree identity.
However, the 82-year-old’s claims that she was born on a Piapot Cree reservation in Canada and was adopted by white parents as part of the Sixties Scoop has been brought into question.
A feature from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation which aired late last month saw accusations fly about Sainte-Marie being a “pretendian,” a term used for those who fake their Indigenous ancestry.
The report from the CBC references her birth certificate which allegedly states that she was born “Beverly Jean Santamaria” in Stoneham, Massachusetts to European parents who raised her in Boston.
According to CBC, later in life, she said that she was reunited with her Piapot relatives and adopted into the community.
read more on Indigenous news
The bombshell report included comments from a family member who claimed that her Indigenous ancestry is a lie.
“She wasn’t born in Canada.… She’s clearly born in the United States,” said Heidi St. Marie, daughter of Sainte-Marie’s older brother, Alan.
“She’s clearly not Indigenous or Native American.”
The singer’s legacy in Canada as an Indigenous icon who opened doors, celebrated the culture, and educated others is now in tatters.
Playwright Drew Hayden Taylor said his “jaw literally dropped” after hearing of the allegations.
Coming from Curve Lake First Nations, he was a long-time fan of the singer and refused to believe it at first.
“I just thought, this must be some hatchet job.
“There is absolutely no way that Buffy Sainte-Marie could be a ‘pretendian.'”
“She’s basically been invested in the indigenous community for 60 years,” he added.
“It is like a personal friend, a member of the family turning on you.”
A statement by the family dismissed the CBC’s investigation and affirmed that Sainte-Marie is a “beloved member” of the community.
“No one, including Canada and its governments, the Indian Act, institutions, media, or any person anywhere can deny our family’s inherent right to determine who is a member of our family and community,” the family said.
Sainte-Marie herself that the allegations about her identity are “painful.”
“What I’ve always been honest about is that I don’t know where I’m from or who my birth parents were,” she said.
Sainte-Marie has said that she had “always struggled to answer questions about who I am”, and that she had instructed her lawyer in the past to discover information about her background.
She said her “growing-up mother” had told her many things “including that I was adopted and that I was native but there was no documentation as was common for indigenous children born in the 1940s.
“I may not know where I was born, but I know who I am.
In an email to CBC, Sainte-Marie’s lawyer, Josephine de Whytell, said: “At no point has Buffy Sainte-Marie personally misrepresented her ancestry or any details about her personal history to the public.”
Any perceived inconsistencies CBC has found in Sainte-Marie’s story “can be explained by the truth.”
The U.S. Sun has reached out to Sainte-Marie’s representatives for comment.
Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines