You will prepare and submit a term paper on Buffy, the Unlikely Artist. Your paper should be a minimum of 1250 words in length. The popular myths that natives in the Americas and elsewhere have been by and large eliminated in the process of colonization or that the remaining few are converted to mainstream culture, or that they are alcoholics confined to reserve areas, etc. are all just that – myths with little or no evidence. The rise and stardom of artists like Buffy Saint-Marie is a pointer of the opposite.
The Cree aboriginals spread over wide geographic areas of Canada and the USA and are considered a warlike tribe, although they were friendly towards the British and French traders, according to Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (infoplease.com). Numbering about 200,000, they have always been active in protecting their cultural interests and identity as an independent group with its own language and customs. According to the encyclopedia, they have successfully opposed colonization of their territories in the form of economic development through hydroelectric power stations, mining, logging, etc., and have secured a negotiated settlement for a significantly reduced project, financial assistance, and above all, recognition that they are an independent native nation. These successes point to the capacity of the Cree people to fight for their rights uncompromisingly. Buffy Sainte-Marie belongs to this illustrious native group. She received her formal education in the USA and moved to Hawaii in the 60s as a resident, where she continues to live today although her work demands her frequent travels to the mainland. Her academic training in the formal US schools did not prevent her natural leanings towards her native cultural ethos, of which she became more aware as she grew up and moved into an aboriginal family, as her biography points out. Thus, Buffy became the true product .of native creativity, aided and assisted by the formal education and opportunities of the mainstream US society. Despite her dual citizenship of the USA and Canada, she is proud to be a Canadian, as she informed the Ottawa Citizen in an interview in 1993.