An Oscar-winning Indigenous artist who rose to prominence in New York’s Greenwich Village folk music scene, Buffy Sainte-Marie has had a six-decade groundbreaking career as a singer-songwriter, social activist, educator and artist. This timeline explores Sainte-Marie’s life and the major milestones in her career.
Born on a Plains Cree First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan, Buffy
Sainte-Marie was adopted as an infant and raised in Maine and
Sainte-Marie begins showing an interest in music and starts playing the
piano at the age of 3.
Sainte-Marie graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts, and then moved to New York where she started playing the coffeehouse folk music scene alongside other Canadian icons.
That same year, she wrote the anti-war protest anthem Universal Soldier
and was already performing it in coffeehouses, but was banned from singing it on the radio and TV until 1965.
Sainte-Marie’s First Album
Her debut album releases, “It’s My Way!”
Sainte-Marie was named “Best New Artist” by Billboard Magazine.
Released “Many A Mile.”
Released “Little Wheel Spin And Spin.”
Released “Fire & Fleet & Candlelight.”
She guest starred on NBC’s “The Virginian,” where she only agreed to do so after requesting all Indian roles be played by Native Americans.
Released “I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again.”
An Electronic Pioneer
She released her album Illuminations, which is considered to be a groundbreaking work of early electronic music.
She created the Cradleboard Teaching Project, an ongoing effort to teach native children core subjects like science from an indigenous perspective.
Cradleboard was a spinoff of the Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education, which she founded in 1969.
She appears on the Johnny Cash Show where they sing “Custer,” a ballad
about General George Custer who led his men to death in the Battle of the
She suspects her music is being blacklisted from US radio due to strong
environmental and indigenous rights messaging.
Released “The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie.”
Released “She Used To Wanna Be A Ballerina” and “The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie, Vol. 2.”
Elvis records “Until It’s Time for You to Go” written by Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Released “Quiet Places.”
Released “Buffy” and “Native North American Child.”
Released “Changing Woman.”
Released “Sweet America.”
Her son was born and she quit recording after releasing 15 albums and
became a regular on “Sesame Street” between 1976 and 1981.
Sainte-Marie Marks a Television Milestone
She breastfed her son on “Sesame Street,” one of the first times breastfeeding was depicted on TV.
Sainte-Marie lent support alongside Muhammad Ali for the Longest Walk in support of American-Indian rights.
She was featured on a Supersisters trading card used to celebrate famous
The First Indigenous Oscar Winner
She won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for co-writing the song
“Up Where We Belong,” used in the 1982 romantic drama “An Officer and
a Gentleman” and sung by Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker.
She starts recording music and making art on a Macintosh computer.
Released “Coincidence and Likely Stories.”
She acted in the TV movie “The Broken Chain” with Pierce Brosnan.
Sainte-Marie was Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Won a Genie for her 1996 TV special “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Up Where We
Released “Running for the Drum” and was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame
Sainte-Marie was awarded a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2010.
Released “Power In the Blood.” “Power in the Blood” won the Polaris Music Prize and received three 2016 JUNO nominations.
Released “Medicine Songs” and collaborates with Tanya Tagaq on “You Got to Run.”
Andrea Warner writes an authorized biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie with a foreword by
She published her first children’s book about pet adoption, “Hey Little
Won the Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize awarded to her debut album It’s My Way, for impact and cultural relevance decades after its release.
Publishes her children’s books “Tâpwê and the Magic Hat” “Still this Love Goes On.”