So it turns out that Buffy Sainte-Marie is a nice Italian-American lady from Massachusetts

Turns out that the most famous Indigenous Canadian is a fraud. She’s neither Indigenous nor Canadian.

CBC obtained Sainte-Marie’s original Stoneham, Massachusetts birth certificate from Feb. 20, 1941, which says she was born to Winifred and Albert Santamaria at 3:15 a.m. Her name was Beverly Jean Santamaria.

That was attested by the attending physician on the date of her birth, and was stamped as “received” by the town clerk on the following day.

Other documents corroborate the birth certificate.

Further supporting the CBC’s conclusion is the fact that there is a trail of Buffy’s easily disproved lies (that she was taken from her Indigenous parents during the Sixties Scoop), as well as a history of her ever-changing, contradictory stories.

Her lawyer must be a real-life Lionel Hutz. Back in the Watergate days, we became familiar with the term “non-denial denial,” which was exactly the type of weak-kneed denials we saw here, essentially the final indication that the story is true. When confronted with the birth certificate, the lawyer responded, “Children adopted in Massachusetts were commonly issued new birth certificates with their adopted parents’ names.” There are four problems with that assertion: (1) It offers no timeline about when such things might have happened (was that in the 1640s?), and apparently isn’t true at all about original birth certificates; (2) The local authorities had already pointed out that this was Buffy’s original birth certificate, signed and dated by the obstetrician on the day she was born and certified by the town clerk the next day; (3) The non-specific nature of the lawyer’s statement is telling. Note that the lawyer doesn’t address Buffy’s specific birth certificate at all, although he certainly would have if could contradict the CBC story. The lawyer just tries to get us to assume that the generic claim must somehow apply to Buffy; (4) Issuing an American birth certificate to a child born in Canada, thus making that child eligible for the American Presidency, would be a federal crime.

The lawyer dug the hole even further when asked about all the other documents and family testimony proving that Mrs. Santamaria gave birth to Buffy in Massachusetts. The attorney completely side-stepped the question and asked that Buffy be given privacy! Oops. That attorney gave every clue to indicate “The story is true” except to say “I won’t dignify that with an answer.”

22 thoughts on “So it turns out that Buffy Sainte-Marie is a nice Italian-American lady from Massachusetts

  1. Re: Adoption birth certificate: “It offers no timeline about when such things might have happened (was that in the 1640s?), and apparently isn’t true at all”

    It is entirely true. We adopted three boys ten years ago, and all were given a new, official birth certificate with our names listed as Mother/Father and their new names

    1. Not relevant to the point. Corrected birth certificates are issued all the time for a multitude of reasons. The question is whether the state would issue an original birth certificate, signed and dated by the delivering physician on the actual date of birth, and stamped as official on that day or the next, when in fact the adoption must have happened some time later. (And whether the place of birth would be changed from the known location.)

      In your case, you’re not talking about an original birth certificate, but simply a legal substitute issued days, months or even years later. And even then, I assume that the location of birth is the original correct one, and the date of issue is stamped as the date of issue, not back-dated to the date of birth, so that it is clear that it was issued some time after the actual birth.

      (And certainly you’re not suggesting that these certificates list Massachusetts as the place of birth if the children were born in another country, because that would be WAY illegal.)

      The names on birth certificates are changed all the time, I presume in every state. My ex-wife and I went some years before getting a legal divorce, and she had a baby in the interim. By Wisconsin law (!!) I had to be listed as the father, even though I was living in Europe when the child was conceived, and the biological father was known and willing to acknowledge paternity. I had to have stipulated in the eventual divorce decree that the birth certificate, although technically legal, was totally inaccurate. (My only other choice was to pay child support.)

      About 30 years later (!!), the state finally relented and issued her a corrected birth certificate without my name on it!

  2. I don’t give birth certificates much weight. I was “half adopted” which means my mother got divorced, remarried and wanted me to have my stepdad’s legal name. The solution? Missouri created a fake birth certificate for me. So I have two “official” birth certificates. One says the birth father was Ralph XXXXX, electrician and another that says the birth father was Ron XXXX police officer.

  3. I first saw this story a couple of weeks ago, and three things struck me that undermined her denials:

    The birth certificate is signed (I assume under penalty of law) by the attending obstetrician, affirming that the baby was born at that time to that mother, who is described as “white.”

    There’s a quote from a 1960s newspaper story, around the time when she was becoming famous, in which her uncle (her dad’s brother, who was around before and after her birth) said the story she was telling didn’t sound like the girl he knew, and she “didn’t have a drop of Cree blood” in her.

    The people claiming her complexion is darker than her siblings apparently didn’t look at the early photos or a home movie they included. Her skin tone then matched the rest of the family, whose patriarch is a Sicilian immigrant.

    1. On top of that, it would be a major federal crime to fabricate an American birth location for somebody born outside the country, given that the status of “natural-born American” is a constitutional requirement for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. It’s unlikely that some obstetrician or some town clerk in Massachusetts would risk time in a federal prison for such an action, given that they would have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

      (I’m sure there are millions of illegal immigrants who would love to find somebody willing to sign an official document proving they were born in the USA.)

        1. Don’t know. Birth certificates were not at all universal until after the war, so it’s not likely that they would specifically have been covered by a statute. As far as creating any document that fraudulently established a “natural born” citizen, I’m not sure how the laws covered that, or whether people would have even cared unless the falsely authenticated person would run for the Presidency – and that only came up once (never resolved). President Chester Alan Arthur was alleged to have been born in Canada to a non-citizen father. If that accusation had been true, he would have been ruled ineligible for the presidency, but there was no official certification of his birth in either place, so there would have been nothing for the courts to rule on, and the controversy just sort of faded away.

          (Realistically, that presidential qualification is the only meaningful differentiation between natural-born and naturalized citizens, so the distinction would simply never have come up in any another context, and therefore the courts would not get a chance to rule on whether faking it was criminal. For example, the governor of our most significant state was not a natural-born American, and served legally. He could have held any US office except President and Veep, and was otherwise equal in all ways to a natural-born American.)


          Back to the subject …

          If you look at the dates and certifications on her actual birth certificate, I can’t see any reason to question that the info is correct. The physician signed it and dated it on the 20th, and the town clerk stamped as received on the 21st.

      1. Is this constitutional requirement due to an amendment? Presumably the first batch of presidents weren’t born in the USA since there was no USA to be born in…

        1. Section 1, Article 2 of the US Constitution:

          No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, *at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution*, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

          The first 9 presidents qualified by being citizens at time of adoption.

          Maybe Joe Biden qualified that way, too.

  4. This is an odd story to me.

    1.I think the local authority said that she was satisfied it was the original birth certificate, but that she couldn’t be absolutely sure.

    2.Contrary to what is said here, it’s acknowledged that those taken up by the 60s scoop could be given new birth certificates. I don’t know if this happened in Massachusetts though.

    3.Buffy Sainte Marie and/or her lawyers also claim that her original Manitoba birth certificate was destroyed, which is convenient, of course. However, if she was issued a new birth certificate in Massachusetts it probably does make sense that her original birth certificate would also have been destroyed.

    What makes it odd to me is that Buffy Sainte Marie seems to be years or even decades before anybody else pretended indigenous status. I believe at that time it was far more common for musicians to not mention their indigenous status out of fear of discrimination in the music community. Robbie Robertson said “I never lied, I never hid anything” but he never mentioned it either. I believe Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders also never mentioned it until the song “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian).”

    So, Buffy Sainte Marie is an individual and individuals are strange and maybe in her genre of music she thought it would be a benefit to falsely claim indigenous status, but, at the very least I doubt her reason for doing so was to financially benefit as is the case with these Pretendians. And, she also did teach many young people about native people.

    However, it’s certainly possible she is Italian, as Iron Eyes Cody is actually Sicilian. I’ll shed a tear to that.

    1. “It’s acknowledged that those taken up by the 60s scoop could be given new birth certificates”

      1. Buffy was born in 1941, so anything understood about the 60s scoop would not apply to her.

      2. That may have been true in Canada, but to fake an American birth certificate for a foreign-born child would be a serious criminal action in the USA.

      Falsely creating status as a natural-born American would be a major crime that could result in years in federal prison. The status of “natural-born American” is a constitutional requirement for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. Perhaps you remember the controversy over Obama’s birth. Foreign-born children adopted by American parents become citizens, but not natural-born citizens.

      There are millions of immigrants who would love to find somebody willing to sign an official document proving they were born in the USA when they were actually born in another country!

      1. Like with many things, the ’60s Scoop’ didn’t come out of nowhere but had a precursor, and I had assumed this is what Buffy Sainte Marie was impacted by. However, I had never looked into it further.

        The start of the 60s Scoop in Canada was in 1951 when the federal government transfered care for indigenous chilcren in care to the provinces, but didn’t pass on sufficient (or any) additional funding.

        The provinces responded by downloading the costs to any family who wanted to take the children. So, the 60s Scoop in Canada didn’t really take off until the 1960s, but the genesis was in 1951. However, it seems clear Buffy was in the United States already by 1948, so there is no question she was not part of anything to do with the ’60s Scoop.

    2. I have to add that it doesn’t matter to me that she’s a fake. This is not like an Elizabeth Warren thing where she just mentions, “By the way, I’m a native American. What’s my prize?” Buffy sincerely identifies with the First Nations, and apparently always has walked the walk, completely immersing herself in their world. Moreover, everything she has done for them and as one of them has been positive – for them, not just for her.

      I feel like we should forgive this one, and I hope the First Nations feel the same way. I know they are sensitive about this sort of thing, and I completely understand why they should be, but I hope they make an exception in her case.

      The Sicilians, on the other hand, might feel rightly pissed off that their heritage was not good enough for her.

      1. Yes, every indigenous person is an individual who will make their own decision (or like many younger people these days say ‘Buffy who?’) but the First Nation that adopted her, the Piapot Cree in Saskatchewan, support her.

        Acting chief of Piapot First Nation says his community will not turn their back on Sainte-Marie.

        “I can relate and understand to a lot of our people who feel betrayed and in a sense lied to by her claiming Indigenous ancestry, when in fact she may not be Indigenous,” said Ira Lavallee.

        “When it comes to Buffy specifically we can’t pick and choose which part of our culture we decide to adhere to.… We do have one of our families in our community that did adopt her. Regardless of her ancestry, that adoption in our culture to us is legitimate.”

        “The majority of us in our community, my generation, we’ve lived our entire lives knowing Buffy as she is, as she was,” said Lavallee.

        “She is a part of her community. She spent time in her community.”

  5. I thought she was from Michigan. Oh wait, that’s Buffy Sault Ste. Marie. What next? I bet it’ll turn out she never killed any vampires, either.

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