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Birth certificate and family testimony reveal Oscar-winning folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie is another fake Indian
Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Birth certificate and family testimony reveal Oscar-winning folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie is another fake Indian

Buffy Sainte-Marie is an Academy Award-winning folk singer who has claimed Native-American heritage since the early 1960s. In her art and activism, she has spoken from what Teen Vogue called an "Indigenous perspective," repeatedly condemning colonization and referring to America's founding and the supposed erasure of American Indians as "genocide." She also has touted herself as a "survivor" of an allegedly racist government welfare program that placed certain Native-American kids in foster homes.

Liberal media outfits devoured and trafficked in the singer's claims for years, suggesting, for instance, that the singer had been forcibly taken away from her Native-American family; that she was "raised ... in a small town where there was almost nobody that looked like her"; that she was Cree.

A birth certificate, testimony from family members, genealogical data, and an altogether damning report from the Canadian state media have knocked out the pillar upon which Sainte-Marie has long built her persona. She was not born in Canada. She was likely not adopted. She is most likely of Italian and English heritage.

What's the background?

Sainte-Marie has for over 50 years claimed to have Native-American heritage. At one stage, she said she was a "full-blooded Algonquin Indian." Months later, in 1963, she said she was "half-Micmac by birth."

Once she got her story straight, she told reporters she was Cree, born on the Piapot First Nation reserve in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, then sent to live with a Massachusetts couple who would become her adoptive parents, Albert and Winifred Santamaria. PBS suggested last year she was taken from her family against their will, owing to a supposedly racist practice called the Sixties Scoop.

Much of her music, dance, and activism came to center on her supposed race.

According to her biography, "It's My Way!," Sainte-Marie held her part in the TV western, "The Virginian," hostage unless the studio agreed to have only real indigenous actors play all of the Native-American parts.

While keen for people to appreciate Native-American culture, she condemned those who attempted to "reach out to Indigenous people to adopt some of their ways," reported Canadian state media.

"It doesn't make any sense to me — these kids, trying to be Indians," she told an underground Berkeley, California, newspaper in 1967. "They'll never become Indians."

Sainte-Marie was hired in 1975 to present Native-American programming for children on "Sesame Street." Her debut appearance was purportedly groundbreaking. She opened a backpack and produced some Native-American bead work.

"This is Cree Indian," she said, holding a pair of moccasins. "Cree Indians are my tribe, and we live in Canada."

Concerning her children's television experience, she said she "wanted little kids and their caretakers to know one thing above all: that Indians exist. We are not all dead and stuffed in museums like the dinosaurs."

Sainte-Marie has won numerous race-based prizes. She took home four Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, two Aboriginal Peoples' Choice Music Awards, four Juno awards designated for Native-Americans, and four Indigenous lifetime achievement awards, reported the Canadian state media.

Not only did art centers celebrate her supposed success as a Native-American, Canada even put out a stamp depicting her in traditional native garb.

Another worn-out costume

Canadian state media indicated it received a tip in 2022 that Sainte-Marie was not of Cree ancestry but rather of European heritage. The taxpayer-funded giant subsequently began to investigate discrepancies in the singer's origin story.

Whereas the singer claimed she was born on a Canadian reserve, documents obtained by the state broadcaster, including her birth certificate, indicate she was instead born in Stoneham, Massachusetts.

"She wasn't born in Canada. .... She's clearly born in the United States," Heidi St. Marie, daughter of the singer's older brother Alan, told the state broadcaster. "She's clearly not Indigenous or Native American."

While the singer's Ontario-based lawyer told the broadcaster, "At no point has Buffy Sainte-Marie personally misrepresented her ancestry or any details about her personal history to the public," Sainte-Marie declined requests for a follow-up interview.

Instead, in a video statement posted to Meta, where she once more insinuated she was a Sixties Scoop "survivor," Sainte-Marie discarded her usual racial confidence, saying, "There are also many things I don't know, which I've always been honest about. I don't know where I'm from, who my birth parents are, or how I ended up a misfit in a typical white Christian New England town."

The folk singer's birth certificate states that Beverly Jean Santamaria, the singer's original name, was born in 1941 north of Boston to Albert and Winifred Santamaria. Albert was an electrician whose parents were Italian, and Winifred was a homemaker whose background was English. Sainte-Marie has publicly referred to this couple as her adopted parents, both now dead.

Just like her mother and father, she too was listed on the stamped and certified Town of Stoneham birth certificate as "white."

Canadian state media was able to confirm the facts on the birth certificate by cross-referencing genealogical records and media stories with family interviews.

The state media report also noted various inconsistencies in Sainte-Marie's claims over the years. For instance, in 1966 she stated, "My real mother wasn't in a position to keep me, but I always knew who she was and that I could go back to the place of my birth when I wished." Then, in 1967, she said, "I don't know who my real mother was."

Sainte-Marie's younger sister, now 75, told state media in September that she couldn't recall her parents ever once mentioning the folk singer having been adopted.

The singer's paternal uncle told the Wakefield Daily Item in 1964, Sainte-Marie "has no Indian blood in her."

"I thought I should come down and tell you the truth about Buffy. ... [I]f people believe what they get from the press agents, they'll get a wrong impression," said Arthur Santamaria.

Asked whether the singer had Native-American blood, her uncle responded, "Not a bit."

Other family members, including her cousin Bruce Santamaria, all understood that she was "Uncle Albert's child."

The town clerk in Stoneham, Massachusetts, Maria Sagarino, told Canadian state media that Sainte-Marie's handwritten birth certificate was signed by Dr. Herbert Land, the same doctor who delivered her sister years later. The doctor certified she had been born to Alfred and Winifred Santamaria.

Sagarino further noted that "children adopted by parents in Massachusetts were commonly issued new Massachusetts birth certificates with the name of their adoptive parents," which hadn't happened in Sainte-Marie's case.

"It doesn't appear that she was adopted in any way, shape or form," said the town clerk.

On a marriage certificate in 1982, even the singer confirmed she was born in the U.S. to "Albert and Winifred St. Marie."

Sainte-Marie released a statement in advance of the report, noting she was "proud of [her] Indigenous-American identity."


While Sainte-Marie appears to have been playing at it longer, faking Native-American heritage for self-gain appears to be an all-too common occurrence.

Blaze News previously indicated that Marlon Brando's infamous Academy Awards stand-in Sacheen Littlefeather, whose real name was Marie Louise Cruz, was revealed by her sisters to have been of Hispanic and European heritage, not Apache ancestry.

Heather Rae, an award-winning producer, was accused earlier this year of lying about being Cherokee.

Former Berkeley sociology professor Elizabeth Hoover also greatly benefited from faking a Native-American background, admitting to probably having received special treatment as a result of the perception she was a "Native scholar."

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) identified as Native-American on her application for a job at Harvard University and hand-wrote "American Indian" in the field for "race" on her State Bar of Texas registration card. In 2018, former President Donald Trump, who had long derided Warren as "Pocahontas," challenged the senator to get a DNA test to prove she was Native-American. The test results came back showing that she was only 1/1,024th Native-American, if at all.

"They're taking that opportunity from a real Indigenous person. ... It's prestige, it's money, it's grants and awards and positions and work that they would never have gotten otherwise," Métis lawyer Jean Teillet of Vancouver told state media.

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