One of Canada’s most prominent Indigenous icons might not be Indigenous after all, according to media reports.
Buffy Sainte-Marie, who was considered the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar, has always claimed to be a Cree Indian born in Canada who was then adopted by an American couple and raised near Boston. The singer-songwriter is known for her appearance on Sesame Street, was commemorated on Canadian postage stamps and performed for Queen Elizabeth II.
Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) News conducted an investigation into Sainte-Marie based on public records and interviews, including with estranged family members of the singer-songwriter. The 82-year-old icon has said she was born on the Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan and adopted as an infant by a White family in Massachusetts, but a birth certificate says she was born Beverly Jean Santamaria to parents of Italian and English ancestry in the U.S.
The investigation documented contradictory statements that Sainte-Marie has made about her Indigenous past, including articles from early in her career in which she was described as being from different native groups.