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'It's not the full story': Sask. Indigenous peoples react to documentary, calling Buffy Sainte-Marie's Indigeneity into question

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Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan are reacting following a CBC Fifth Estate documentary that called into question the Indigenous identity of accomplished musician and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The investigation, which was published Friday, argues that Sainte-Marie’s birth certificate, other documents and accounts from family members contradict her claim that she is Indigenous.

“For 60 years I've been sharing my story as I know it. I'm an artist, an activist, a mom, a survivor and a proud member of the native community with deep roots in Canada,” Sainte-Marie said in a message posted to Facebook, prior to the investigation being published.

For Piapot First Nation member Dwayne Noname, the investigation has been met with disappointment – given the status of Sainte-Marie as an icon for Indigenous communities.

“She's really a role model for not only for Piapot but for the whole native generation,” he explained. “It’s really sad that she has to fight for her livelihood at her age now to prove who she is.”

“She proved to all of us that we could do it and still be Indigenous,” one Regina resident told CTV News. “Now that’s just ripped away – it's just gone.”

The investigation’s effects have hit harder in Saskatchewan – given the singer’s long standing connections to Piapot First Nation.

Sainte-Marie’s 2018 authorized biography, claims that she was probably born Cree on the First Nation located just north of Regina, in the early 1940s – before being adopted and raised by a couple in Stoneham, Mass.

Sainte-Marie was later adopted through Cree traditions into the Piapot family in her early 20’s.

“It's not the full story,” another resident told CTV News, when asked about the CBC documentary. “So for me, my prayer is for the family that have claimed Buffy.”

Many online are taking Sainte-Marie’s side, adding to the debate about “Pretendians” and cultural appropriation.

“There’s basically two camps,” a Regina resident told CTV News.

“Some people entirely defending Buffy and another group that are really upset with her and they feel betrayed.”

With files from The Canadian Press.

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