‘We declare her, finish of story’: Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Piapot household harm by allegations

Artist and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Indigenous identification has been challenged by a CBC investigation however her Piapot First Nation, Sask. household stands by the 82-year-old, calling the narrative “ignorant,” “colonial” and “racist.”

Ntawnis Piapot, talking for the household, says the bombshell declare that Sainte-Marie has no Indigenous blood has no bearing on her belonging to the Cree household.

Piapot is the great-granddaughter of Emile Piapot and Clara Starblanket, each deceased, who adopted Sainte-Marie some six a long time in the past.

Piapot says Sainte-Marie linked with the Piapot First Nation after she met her grandfather at a powwow in Ontario.

“There was simply issues that sort of lined as much as her story too,” she informed International Information.

“My grandparents had 10 kids and a few of them died due to the Indian Act system, as a result of they couldn’t get correct well being care on the reserve and so she was at that age the place one in all their kids handed away and so they sort of linked on that.

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“The adoption course of, it took years — it took days and months and years of attending to know one another and trusting one another and going to ceremony and getting her Indian title (from my mushum) to lastly have a look at her and be like, I acknowledge you as my daughter, you’re formally a part of our household.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie speaks after the disclosing of a Canada Publish stamp honouring her legacy as a singer-songwriter in 2021.


It was performed in Cree customized and whereas Sainte-Marie didn’t claimed proof of blood relations, she is accepted as kin due to that ceremony.

“It’s actually insulting that somebody would query my nice grandfather’s selection and proper to undertake Buffy as his daughter,” Piapot stated.

“Nobody has the authority to query our sovereignty, we’re a sovereign nation, we’re sovereign folks and our adoption practices have been intact since time immemorial.

“Having somebody query the validity of that adoption … it’s hurtful, it’s ignorant, it’s colonial, and fairly frankly it’s racist.

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Sainte-Marie claimed to have been ‘scooped’ as an toddler

Sainte-Marie’s licensed biography written by Andrea Warner reads “There’s no official document of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s start, probably not. A minimum of not a passable and decisive one which solutions questions earlier than they’re requested, grounded in a household lineage with all of the presents and baggage that accompany that sort of belonging.”

The e-book continues, “born with the given title Beverly, most definitely in 1941, on or round February twentieth, and doubtless on a reserve referred to as Piapot within the Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan. She is Cree.”

Sainte-Marie has stated she was someway adopted and raised in Massachusetts by a non-Indigenous household.

However the CBC investigation — none of which has been verified by International Information — challenges that. They are saying a start certificates exhibits her mother and father are Italian and English and aren’t her adopted mother and father in any respect, however her start mother and father. Household quoted by the CBC say there isn’t any Indigenous heritage of their household.

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Responding this week forward of the CBC report Sainte-Marie in a submit on social media, stated “I’m pleased with my Indigenous-American identification, and the deep ties I’ve to Canada and my Piapot household.

“I’ll not know the place I used to be born, however I do know who I’m.”

In a current podcast episode, Sainte-Marie spoke about her identification and the way she routinely tries to right misconceptions.

“There’s been confusion concerning my Piapot adoption as an illustration,” she stated. “I used to be adopted into the Piapot household, not I used to be adopted out of Piapot reserve. That makes an enormous distinction.”

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This current clarification does nevertheless go in opposition to the biography on her web site and statements made by her biographer in the previous about being part of the 60s scoop.

Amongst her many accolades, Sainte-Marie received an Oscar in 1983 for finest authentic tune, starred on six seasons of Sesame Avenue, influencing the present’s storylines, and based the Nihewan Basis — a company devoted to enhancing training of and about Indigenous folks and cultures.

Buffy Sainte-Marie is pictured (centre) with Emile Piapot and Clara Starblanket.

Buffy Sainte-Marie / Fb

Adoption processes have been taking place in First Nations communities for hundreds of years.

The Meeting of First Nations says customary adoption “often takes place between members of the instant or prolonged household, though it might additionally contain folks shut to those households, reminiscent of pals or neighborhood members. By its nature, adoption varies from nation to nation.”

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Click to play video: 'Buffy Sainte-Marie’s niece explains how much kinship means to the Piapot family'

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s niece explains how a lot kinship means to the Piapot household

The allegations in opposition to Sainte-Marie precipitated a shock all through Indigenous communities with response blended, from disappointment to anger to help, spawning hashtags like #IStandWithBuffy.

Information tales that problem Indigenous identification — like  Joseph Boyden, Michelle Latimer and Carrie Bourrasa — all elevate the identical query: Who has the precise to resolve who’s and who isn’t Indigenous?

Among the many many factors to contemplate in figuring out identification, final decision-making energy lies within the palms of communities, says Metis lawyer Jean Teillet who within the wake of a number of high-profile Indigenous identification issues, just lately penned what’s thought of the gold customary for addressing identification fraud.

As nicely, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Individuals states, in Article 3, that “Indigenous peoples have the precise to self-determination.” Self-determination means “the sovereign proper and energy of the Indigenous group to resolve who belongs to them, with out exterior interference.”

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If the Piapot household claims her, is that sufficient?

“Nobody ought to be capable to query if (Sainte-Marie) is from Piapot as a result of we declare her,” stated Piapot, who’s a former CBC journalist. “She’s claimed. She’s not kicked out. She claims us, we declare her, finish of story.”

Her household needs folks to maintain an open and demanding thoughts because the story unfolds.

“Take into consideration whose voices are included on this story, whose voices are usually not included on this story and why did that occur? And most significantly, who’s telling this story? What’s their observe document for telling Indigenous tales?”

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