Acclaimed Indigenous Canadian-American-Cree artist, activist and pacifist, Buffy Sainte-Marie, is a fitting subject for a Celtic Story of Now portrait.
Celtic knots are spiritual. They emanate from Buffy’s own palm, expanding around her. Music notes from her songs, Dream Tree and Universal Soldier, hover the knot. Celtic Symbols of motherhood represent her one son, as much as her many creations. The knot continues to spiral around her to represent expansion; something she’s known for.
The Piapot 75 Reserve Flag from Saskatchewan, Canada represents her birth in 1941, to Cree parents. She was taken by around age three and adopted by an American family from Massachusetts.
The Celts connect the Dragonfly with the ability to see truth and ancient wisdom. To west coast indigenous cultures and most parts of the world, dragonflies mean change in the view of self-understanding and insight on the deeper meaning of life.
The majestic and ethereal Hummingbird is small, travels great distances and even flies backward. To ancient Celts, they’re transcendent guides and oracles. When hummingbirds flutter their wings, they create figure eights, the symbol of infinity. This represents the same continuity and ability to transcend Buffy has shown since she began her career as a singer-songwriter.
The Red Hand is also rooted in Gaelic culture, dating to pagan times as a sign of a great warrior. In this painting, my red hand print indicates solidarity with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in North America. Native American women are 10 times more likely to be murdered or assaulted.
Buffy is a Pisces, but dolphins rather than fish represent her best. Dolphin symbolism includes help, guidance, intelligence, fun, joyfulness, freedom, teamwork and transformation. They live peacefully in every ocean on Earth as well as some rivers, making them subjects in mythology and folklore worldwide, also not unlike Buffy Saint Marie.
The red symbol at the top marries an ancient icon for womanhood and fertility with the present biohazard logo. Women worldwide suffer from toxic masculinity; they aren’t permitted an education, a vote, or freedom. Buffy is creatively fertile, educated and though she has a soft voice, she’s been speaking volumes for the underrepresented her entire adult life.
This is just part of the continuing story of Buffy Saint Marie – songwriter, trailblazer, tireless advocate, innovative artist, and disruptor of the status quo. She just turned 82, February 20th (2023) and is going strong. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.
“What’s Buffy Working to Change?
Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education
the Cradleboard Teaching Project
Since the 1980s, Buffy Saint Marie started developing new ways of teaching core school subjects like science, geography and government through Indigenous perspectives. In the 1990s, with support from a few sponsors and foundations, her team created the Cradleboard Teaching Project. It served children and teachers worldwide for 15 years – free, live, and online – connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous classes through the new core curriculum.
The ideas developed since have been shared with education departments, colleges and universities across Canada, fulfilling Buffy’s gut instinct to embed and improve education from within. She’s never taken a salary, and always kept the foundation operating costs under 15%.
She continually extends the Nihewan mission into her artistic, educational, and personal life.
What you can do
So, how can you support her efforts?
She’s ca philanthropist, which means a portion of every dollar she earns goes somewhere meaningful. And she’s know for ensuring the money is used wisely. Buying her stuff means you’re supporting her work.
Learn about Indigenous history
Colonial historical narratives have failed First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people for a long time. They don’t account for Indigenous experiences nor include Indigenous stories.