Sunday, November 26, 2023

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Art: Vicki Shuck


This morning I gave the homily at Spirit Catholic Community (formerly Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community) in Minneapolis.

It had been twelve years since I last delivered a homily. And, yes, it felt good to be able to do so again. Following is what I shared.

___________________


The King of Love My Shepherd Is

A Homily by Michael J. Bayly
for
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe


Spirit Catholic Community
November 26, 2023



First Reading: Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 15-17
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15: 20-26, 28
Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46

Good morning. . . . My name is Michael Bayly and it is a great honor to be here with you all and share some thoughts and perspectives on our readings for today. I appreciate the invitation to do so, and hope I will do justice to both the readings and the long and storied history of Spirit community members sharing and “breaking open the word.”

The Roman Church’s designated name for today, this last Sunday of Ordinary Time, is quite the mouthful: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Now, like many within our community I balk at titles such as “Lord” and “King” and their connotations of imperialism, hierarchy and institutionalized oppression – all of which, it seems to many of us, are the antithesis of the egalitarian message and example of Jesus of Nazareth. Our community even goes so far as to substitute the word “kindom” for “kingdom” in an effort to distance ourselves from these connotations and to center ourselves instead in what we recognize and celebrate as the radical hospitality and inclusiveness of Jesus.

I trust that these qualities of Jesus supersede the themes of judgment and condemnation that, for whatever reason, found their way into the writings of the early church.

So where did today’s theme of Jesus as King of the Universe come from? Well, even though various royal titles have been attributed to Jesus since the time of the early church, it was only relatively recently, in 1925, that Pope Pius XI dedicated this Sunday to “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.” At first, this might seem like an irrelevant factoid. But this date actually tells us much about the rationale behind this particular action of the Vatican.

Nineteen-twenty-five was just seven years after the end of the First World War, a conflict that saw the overthrow of no less than three royal houses of Europe. In Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia, imperial empires and their autocratic rulers were deposed.

These were all monarchs long held to have been ordained by God to rule. They represented the centuries-old tradition of the divine right of kings, a tradition reflected in the structure of the papacy. The earthly order of sovereignty of these kings, kaisers, emperors and tsars was believed to mirror the heavenly order of God’s sovereignty. Yet in 1918 they were all swept away by a rising tide of what we would now call “people power,” a power that in the aftermath of World War One was in some cases expressed by democracy but in other cases by regimes just as autocratic and despotic as the ones they had deposed.

It’s not surprising then that the Roman Church, itself modeled on the imperial order of the Roman empire, and thus hostile to democracy, would wish to reassert the primacy of kingship both in heaven and on earth by declaring Jesus as King – and “King of the Universe,” no less.

To its credit, the Vatican, in declaring Christ “King of the Universe,” was also attempting to counter the rise of fascism in 1920s Europe – in Italy especially. As Allison Connelly, a self-identifying queer Catholic points out, the feast of Christ the King serves as “a reminder to people of good faith that nationalism and fascism are not our moral authorities,” and that that such ideologies should not control “the world’s narrative.”

Still, the emphasis on kingship remains problematic for many. But here’s the thing I find fascinating – and rather subversive. Although today’s readings lift up the kingly characteristics of judgment and punishment, they also present to us the image of the shepherd, one of the lowliest figures in biblical times and indeed throughout history, and one that is not generally associated with imperial rule. I like to think that whoever selected the readings for today was quietly yet purposely doing their best to make an important point, one that involves the lifting up of the lowly shepherd as an alternative model of leadership to that of an absolute monarch.

It reminds me of Jesus’ own subversive actions on Palm Sunday when, in an effort to turn upside down the residents of Jerusalem’s notion of kingship, chose to enter the city on a donkey. Similarly, the writers of the resurrection narratives subversively have Mary Magdalene mistake the risen Jesus for a gardener; not the owner of the garden but a lowly gardener, a laborer.

The message I get from all of this is that Jesus is our brother, one who calls us to share in his Christic level of awareness and compassion, and thus follow him in the work of shepherding our thoughts and actions into an embodied life that ensures all are taken care of materially, emotionally and spiritually.

It’s a taking care of that in the past an ideal king or queen would have been expected to do for their subjects. Yet now in this vision I’m proposing, we’re all called to be kingly and queenly in this way.

Such an embodied life of care and justice is one that I trust we are called to live both individually and communally.

Author Marianne Williamson has written that we’re living in a “silent emergency of uncaring times” where unnecessary human suffering is being normalized. “No amount of private charity,” Williamson writes, “can compensate for a basic lack of social justice.”

Here at Spirit, we have long understood this, and our history as a community is defined by efforts, programs and endeavors that seek to ignite and embody works of care, justice and peace. And what inspires and sustains such work? It is, quite simply, love.

Which brings me to my concluding thought. When preparing this homily I took a break one afternoon last weekend and perused the bargain CD shelves of Half Priced Books. A title caught my eye: Be Still My Soul. It’s a collection of centuries-old hymns recorded by Erin Bode, including, I discovered, one that puts Psalm 23 to music.

Interestingly – dare I say, subversively – the title and first line of this particular interpretation of Psalm 23 is not “The Lord Is My Shepherd” but rather, “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”

Notice that the actual subject of this poetically-written phrase is not the king but the shepherd. It’s saying “My Shepherd is the King of Love.” The shepherd and their work come first, and it’s this work of care and gathering and, by extension, our work of justice-making and peace-building, that makes the shepherd a king (or queen) of love.

The King of Love My Shepherd Is. . . . Friends, let us carry this beautiful expression, thought and image into our day and our week, as we continue to strive to embody lives of care and justice, both individually and communally.

May it be so.

– Michael J. Bayly
Spirit Catholic Community
November 26, 2023



Previous Homilies:
The Soul of a Dancer – Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community, May 22, 2011.
Liberated to Be Together – Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community, October 4, 2009.
"More Lovely Than the Dawn": God as Divine Lover – Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, August 30, 2009.
Dispatches from the Periphery – Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community, October 5, 2008.
Somewhere In Between – St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, January 15, 2006.
The Harvest Within the Heart – Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, July 17, 2005.
Disarming the Weapons Within – Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, November 29, 2004.
Soul Deep – Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, June 20, 2004.
Something We Dare Call Hope – Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, November 9, 2003.
On the Road with Punk Rockers and Homeless Mothers – Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, October 19, 2003.
Praying for George W. Bush – Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ, January 2003.
What We Learn From the Story of the Magi – St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, January 2, 2000.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Model of Leadership Offered by Jesus: “More Like the Gardener Than the Owner of the Garden”
Jesus Our Guide to Mystical Love – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Revolution and Mysticism
Jesus: Path-Blazer of Radical Transformation
Adam Eriksen on the Subversive Politics of Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday: “A Planned Political Demonstration”
Why Jesus is My Man

For more on Spirit Catholic Community, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
The Shrinking Catholic Tent (2008)
A Profound and Devastating Loss
All You Holy Men and Women
A Catholic “Crisis and Opportunity” in South Minneapolis (2009)
Alive and Well . . . and Flourishing
The Challenge of Eucharist (2011)
A Big Gay “Yay!” for the Catholics (2012)
Troubling the Waters: Brad R. Braxton on Baptism and Black Lives Matter (2021)

Images 1 and 3: Vicki Shuck.
Image 2: Artist unknown.
Image 4: Spirit Catholic Community.


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Buffy Sainte-Marie: “It Is Time for Me to Shine a Light on the Truth, My Truth”

Image: Arthur Mola/Invision/AP (2022)


For weeks now I've been trying to get my head (and heart) around the doubts being very publicly cast against the Indigenous ancestry of singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie.

As regulars readers will know, I’ve long admired Buffy and enjoyed – and been inspired by – her music and activism. I even chose her song “It’s My Way” as my theme song when I turned 50 in 2015.


Left: With Buffy after her August 27, 2016 performance in Bayfield, Wisconsin.


I especially appreciate how Buffy seamlessly blends her art, social activism and educational endeavors. I’ve seen her four times in concert, and had the privilege of meeting and talking with her on three of these occasions. She’s creative, articulate, warm, and funny – a very human human being. In many ways I aspire to live a life that can be described as one reviewer described Buffy's groundbreaking 1969 album Illuminations – as “genuinely mysterious . . . subversive and strange.”

Yet Buffy's own life and journey has now, for many people, become a little too strange – uncomfortably challenging, in fact; as recent headlines of news articles and opinion pieces illustrate.

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Indigenous Identity Questioned in New Report; Oscar-Winning Songwriter Calls Allegations ‘Traumatic’ and ‘Deeply Hurtful’

CBC Releases Report Questioning Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Claims to Indigenous Heritage

Canada’s Most Prominent Indigenous Icon Might Not Be Indigenous

Buffy Sainte-Marie Indigenous Roots Controversy Rocks Canada First Nations

I Loved Buffy Sainte-Marie. Now, Like Many Indigenous People, I Feel Betrayed by Her

The Supposed Unmasking of Buffy Sainte-Marie Doesn’t Bring Vindication — Only More Hurt

Buffy Sainte Marie Is an Icon of Mythic Proportions. There’s Nothing Simple About Questioning Her Origins

Buffy Sainte-Marie Denies Allegations She Misled Public About Indigenous Ancestry


I’ve been feeling the need to respond to this controversy, especially given my oft-stated admiration for Buffy and her work, but have struggled with how and when to do so.

Up until today, Buffy herself has remained silent about the release of the Canadian Bradcasting Corporation’s “bombshell” investigation, one that was initiated by “alleged pretendian” list creator Jacqueline Keeler after she saw “red flags” in Buffy’s story as presented in last year’s award-winning documentary, Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On. Many now see the CBC documentary as convincingly concluding that Buffy fabricated her story of Indigenous ancestry. Others – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – are not so convinced. In a video posted on her social media platforms ahead of the broadcasting of the CBC documentary, Buffy stated that she is uncertain of her biological heritage and affirmed her formal adoption into, and identification with the Cree nation.

Before sharing Buffy’s more recent response to the CBC’s allegations and conclusions, I think the words of the late actor Peter Ustinov are worth considering, especially in light of those who are being critical of Buffy’s insistence on speaking her truth as opposed to solely “the truth.”

I’ve always been very much opposed to the courts of law where you are asked to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, because I think that’s impossible. If I was forced to do that, I should refuse because I’m willing to tell my truth, but I can’t guarantee that it’s the whole truth, and certainly not that it’s nothing but the truth. The truth is like a chandelier in the courtroom, which everybody sees, but from a different angle – because they’re different people and can’t occupy the same seat.


I also think musician David Rovics’ thoughts on the current controversy concerning Buffy are both insightful and compassionate.

In this era so characterized by black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking, where people are either virtuous or villainous, I think it's good to take a step back and look at the big picture, which, for me, necessitates holding contradictory things to be true at the same time.


With all this in heart and mind, here is Buffy Sainte Marie’s response to the CBC documentary questioning her Indigenous roots. (NOTE: The CBC documentary is not the documentary Buffy refers to in the opening paragraph of her response. She’s referencing last year’s documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On.)

__________________________


I want to begin by thanking the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the honour [awarded to the makers of Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On]. As one of the most prestigious awards in the global entertainment industry, it is a true recognition of the outstanding team who worked on my story – the true story of my life.

I’ve always believed it takes rain and sunshine to bring a rainbow. This great honour does indeed come after the rain – as I continue to absorb and process the recent attack on my character, life and legacy. It’s a deep wound to my inner child, but as an 82-year-old now, I’m strong – and these allegations do not shake me.

Now it is time for me to shine a light on the truth, my truth.

I have never lied about my identity. The more I’ve known, the more I’ve pieced together a sense of self from what information has been available to me.

What I know about my Indigenous ancestry I learned from my growing up mother, who was of Mi’kmaq heritage, and my own research later in life. My mother told me that I was adopted and that I was Native, but there was no documentation as was common for Indigenous children at the time.

When I grew up, I was adopted into a Cree family by Emile Piapot (son of Chief Piapot, Treaty 4 Adhesion signatory), and Clara Starblanket Piapot (daughter of Chief Starblanket, Treaty 4 signatory), in accordance with Cree law and customs. They were kind, loving, and proud to claim me as their own. I love my Piapot family and am so lucky to have them in my life.

I have always struggled to answer questions about who I am. For decades, I tried to find my birth parents and information about my background. Through that research what became clear, and what I’ve always been honest about: I don’t know where I’m from or who my birth parents are, and I will never know. Which is why, to be questioned in this way is painful, both for me, and for my two families I love so dearly.

My Indigenous identity is rooted in a deep connection to a community which has had a profound role in shaping my life and my work. For my entire life, I have championed Indigenous, and Native American causes when nobody else would, or had the platform to do so. I am proud to have been able to travel the world, sharing Indigenous stories. I have always tried to bridge gaps between communities and educate people to live in love and kindness.

This is my truth. And while there are many things I do not know; I have been proud to share my story – as I know it – throughout my life.

The attack on my character is full of mistakes and omissions. While I will not stoop to respond to every false allegation, I feel it is important to clarify two things.

First, the central proof used to question my identity is a story fabricated by my abuser and repeated by two members of my estranged family I don’t even know. This has been incredibly re-traumatizing for me and unfair to all involved. It hurts me deeply to discover that my estranged family grew up scared of me and thinking these lies because of a letter I sent intended to protect me from further abuse from my brother. I want to be clear, I do not blame them. They, of course, want to believe their father. I have evidence I was sexually abused by my brother, but I can’t tolerate discomforting his children even more. I wish them only the best and hope they move forward from this and find peace, as I am trying to do.

The second is my “birth certificate”. As many Indigenous people know, and the National Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation of Canada has stated, it was common for birth certificates of Indian children to be “created” by western governments after they were adopted or taken away from their families. So it was quite shocking to me to hear a city clerk say she had 100% confidence in its authenticity. I have never known if my birth certificate was real. I have used it because it was the only document I’ve had my whole life. I’ve heard from countless people with similar stories – who do not know where they are from and feel victimized by these allegations and one-sided reporting as I do.

Most importantly, this is my life – I am not a piece of paper. I am a product of both my families and all my experiences in this world.

If you are a pure-blood documented something, I’m glad for you. It’s awesome and beautiful to hear you speak your lineage, history and genealogy. But even if your documentation says you’re racially pure, you might miss the point. Being an “Indian” has little to do with sperm tracking and colonial record keeping: It has to do with community, culture, knowledge, teachings, who claims you, who you love, who loves you, and who’s your family.

With respect and love.

Buffy Sainte-Marie





. . . In every dream I can smell the sweetgrass burning
And in my heart I can hear the drum
And hear the singers soaring
And see the jingle dancers
And still this love goes on and on
Still this love goes on

– “Still This Love Goes On
by Buffy Sainte-Marie
(from her 2008 album,
Running for the Drum)


Related Off-site Links:
Buffy Sainte-Marie Says CBC Investigation Into Ancestry Includes Fabricated Evidence: “These Allegations Do Not Shake Me” – Christy Piña (The Hollywood Reporter, November 23, 2023).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Pushes Back Against CBC Investigation Contradicting Claims to Indigenous Ancestry – Kelly Geraldine Malone (The Canadian Press, November 23, 2023).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Says CBC Investigation Into Ancestry Includes Fabrications
– Jessica Wang (Entertainment Weekly, November 23, 2023).
“I Have Never Lied”: Buffy Sainte-Marie Pushes Back On Probe Into Indigenous Ancestry – Kelby Vera (The Huffington Post, November 25, 2023).
What’s the Point of “Pretendian” Investigations? – Michelle Cyca (The Walrus, November 20, 2023).
The Problem With Labelling People “Pretendians” – Drew Lafond (The Globe and Mail, May 28, 2022).
Buffy Saint-Marie Documentary, Carry It On, Wins International Emmy AwardCBC News (November 20, 2023).
Discovering Buffy – David Rovics (This Week With David Rovics, November 6, 2023).
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Adoption by Indigenous People Vital – Doug Cuthand (The Star Pheonix, November 4, 2023).
Anishinaabe Singer Says Contested Ancestry of Buffy Sainte-Marie “Doesn’t Take Away the Inspiration”CBC News (October 31, 2023).
Two Indigenous Artists React to the Questions Raised About Buffy Sainte-Marie’s AncestryCBC Arts (October 30, 2023).
Revelations About Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Ancestry Are Having a Devastating Impact on Indigenous Communities Across Canada – Lori Campbell (The Conversation, October 29, 2023).
“We Claim Her, End of Story”: Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Piapot Family Hurt by Allegations – Haley Lewis and Melissa Ridgen (Global News, October 27, 2023).



Image: Matt Barnes (2015)


For The Wild Reed’s special series of posts leading-up to the November 10, 2017 release of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Medicine Songs, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “I’m Creative Anywhere”
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC’s Central Park
Buffy Sainte-Marie, “One of the Best Performers Out Touring Today”
The Music of Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Uprooting the Sources of Disenfranchisement”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Things Do Change and Things Do Get Better”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Medicine Songs



For The Wild Reed’s special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy’s award-winning album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That “Human-Being Magic”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Lesson from the Cutting Edge: “Go Where You Must to Grow”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood


For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
David Rovics: The “Big Picture” of the Buffy Sainte-Marie Controversy “Necessitates Holding Contradictory Things to Be True at the Same Time”
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Buffy Sainte-Marie on Indigenous Peoples’ Day: “There’s an Awful Lot of Work Yet to Be Done”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Pope’s Apology Is “Just the Beginning”
Sweet America
Carrying It On . . . Into the New Year
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “America the Beautiful”
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the “Spirit of the Wind”
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy! – 2016 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2023
Actually, There’s No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “The Big Ones Get Away”


Thursday, November 16, 2023

“We Are Surging”


Two polls came out yesterday that are good news for those who, like me, support the 2024 presidential campaign of Marianne Williamson.

The Quinnipiac poll shows Marianne at 12%, while her primary opponent other than the President is down at 4%.

The second poll is from Fox, showing Marianne at 13% with 26% among 18 to 34 year olds.

Marianne’s 12-13% polling numbers are comparable to rising Republican candidate Nikki Haley in the Republican nominating process.



In response to these numbers, Marianne wrote the following today in an e-mail to her supporters:

Despite myriad Establishment efforts put into downplaying our campaign, we are surging. That means people are hearing us, supporting us, and embracing the possibilities for a much better world.


I invite all who are reading this to check out Marianne2024.com, read about Marianne’s policy platforms, and consider making a financial donation to help keep the momemtum of her campaign going.

As of to date, Marianne is on the ballot for the Democratic presidenial primary in nine states, including the following seven plus Alaska and Alabama.


_________________


11/20/23 UPDATE: Following is Anthony Scaramucci’s Open Book interview with Marianne Williamson on her presidential campaign.This interview is 45 minutes in duration.






11/22/23 UPDATE:
Marianne Williamson Is Polling Just as Well
Against Biden as Nikki Haley Is Against Trump

– John Nichols (The Nation, November 22, 2023).



Related Off-site Links:
Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Campaign, 2024Ballotpedia.
Bestselling Spiritual Author Marianne Williamson Presses on With Against-the-Odds Presidential Run – Luis Andres Henao (Associated Press News, November 12, 2023).
Fighting for the Heart of America: An Interview With Marianne Williamson – Allaura Osborne (Harvard Political Review, November 8, 2023).
Tracking the Invisible Primary: October 2023 Update – Elaine Kamarck (The Brookings Institution of Research, October 26, 2023).
Marianne Williamson on the Path to the Presidency – Nicola Smith (Dartmouth News, October 4, 2023).
Who Is 2024 Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson? – Catherine Garcia (The Week, August 22, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Wants to Debate Joe Biden So Democrats Can See Options for President – Addison Lathers (Des Moines Register, August 12, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Answers Voter Questions in “Conversation with the Candidate” – WMUR-TV (June 30, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Is Wowing Gen Z on TikTok. But Could She Beat Biden in the Polls? – Brendan Rascius (McClatchy DC, June 13, 2023).
For Marianne Williamson, the Bernie Sanders Lane Looks Wide Open – Mini Racker (TIME, May 25, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Wants to Introduce a New Politics to DC – Maximillian Alvarez (The Real News Network, May 18, 2023).
How Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Compare to Biden on 6 Key Issues – Andrew Stanton (Newsweek, May 15, 2023).
Marianne Williamson: From Third Way to Third Eye – Chris Lehmann (The Nation, May 15, 2023).
Marianne Williamson: Democrats Need a “Genuine Economic Alternative” to Beat the GOP in 2024 – David Sirota (Jacobin, May 5, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Is Serious About Running a Progressive Campaign for President – Liza Featherstone (Jacobin, April 27, 2023).
The Case for Marianne Williamson – Zach Courtney (The Minnesota Daily, April 20, 2023).
Democratic Presidential Longshot Marianne Williamson on Challenging Biden: “We Should Have as Many People Running in an Election as Feel Moved” – Victor Reklaitis (Market Watch, April 15, 2023).
Marianne Williamson, Fusing Bernie Sanders and (Early) Jordan Peterson, Is Taking Over TikTok – Ryan Grim (The Intercept, April 14, 2023).
Meet Eris, the Goddess Behind the Force That Is Marianne Williamson – Rayner Jae Liu (Medium, April 8, 2023).
Marianne Williamson Says Democrats Need to Fix “Unjust” Economy to Win – Andrew Stanton (Newsweek, March 12, 2023).



See also: Marianne 2024 Official Site | About | Issues | News | Events | Donate


For The Wild Reed’s coverage of Marianne Williamson’s 2024 presidential campaign, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
Marianne 2024
Marianne Williamson Launches 2024 Presidential Campaign
Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run
More Progressive Perspectives on Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Run
Ben Burgis: Quote of the Day – March 10, 2023
Despite the Undemocratic Antics of the DNC, Marianne Williamson Plans on “Winning the Nomination”
The Biblical Roots of “From Each According to Ability; To Each According to Need”
Marianne Williamson on The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton – 05/30/23
Marianne Williamson’s Economic Bill of Rights
Three Progressive Voices on the War in Ukraine
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 27, 2023
Marianne Williamson on The Issue Is with Elex Michaelson – 07/20/23
Voters, Not the DNC, Should Choose the Nominee
Marianne Williamson in New Hampshire
Marianne Williamson: “Repairing Our Hearts Is Essential to Repairing Our Country”
Marianne Williamson on Trump’s Day in Court
Marianne Williamson on News Nation – 08/25/23
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Joins NYC’s March to End Fossil Fuels
Marianne Williamson on Your World – 10/6/23
Marianne Williamson’s “Radical Idea” of Putting People First
Marianne Williamson: “We Need to Disrupt the Corrupt”

See also:
Marianne Williamson: “We Must Challenge the Entire System”
Marianne Williamson on the Current Condition of the U.S.
Marianne Williamson’s Politics of Love: The Rich Roll Interview
Now Here’s a Voice I’d Like to Hear Regularly on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy
Marianne Williamson on the Tenth Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
“Two of the Most Dedicated and Enlightened Heroes of Present Day America”
Deep Gratitude
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”


Monday, November 06, 2023

David Rovics: The “Big Picture” of the Buffy Sainte-Marie Controversy “Necessitates Holding Contradictory Things to Be True at the Same Time”


Musician David Rovics has written an insightful and compassionate piece on the current controversy involving the questioning of legendary singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie’s career-long claims of Indigenous ancestry. Following is an excerpt.

______________

I’m not trying to suggest that I understand Buffy Sainte-Marie or her motives, as a young adult or today. I don’t know her. Never met her beyond having her sign a CD and smile glowingly at me and my friends at Evergreen that night we heard her perform.

But it’s not hard to imagine how a kid born into a group broadly identified as either criminals, anarchists, or fascists – Italians and Italian-Americans in 1941 – would want to identify in some other way. It’s equally easy to see how embracing the dominant “white” identity feels like a bizarre thing to do as well, especially when you’re coming from a group that is or was recently clearly being broadly criminalized.

Did someone at a gig in Greenwich Village ask this dark-complexioned woman if she was Indigenous, and she found herself saying yes? It’s easy for me to imagine such a beginning to this strange story. Easy to imagine the inner conflict she might have struggled with when her Indigenous identity became such an important part of her story and her artistic recognition in some circles.

In this era so characterized by black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking, where people are either virtuous or villainous, I think it’s good to take a step back and look at the big picture, which, for me, necessitates holding contradictory things to be true at the same time.

One of those truths would seem to be that Buffy Sainte-Marie has been lying about her Indigenous ancestry since she began identifying as such, in her early twenties. I don’t want to minimize the implications or impact of this deceit for so many people, and I don’t want to say it’s OK – that’s not for me to do. I just want to highlight the many complexities involved with however it was that she first started identifying that way, and consider some of the possible motivations.

Another of those truths is that regardless of Buffy’s real or proclaimed ancestry, she was one of the most musically groundbreaking and talented songwriters or guitarists to emerge from the folk revival of the early 1960s, and she went on to have a long career involving so much more great music.

Another truth is that because of Buffy’s deep involvement in and advocacy for the native sovereignty movement, she was one of a number of musicians coming out of the 1960s who was targeted by the FBI, which was directly involved with trying to minimize radio airplay for Buffy and other efforts to try to make sure she didn’t get any more well-known or influential than she already was.

One more truth is for generations of young Indigenous folks and anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street, at least up until very recently, Buffy’s voice has been a powerful one, for doing popular education, for standing up against injustice, and for bringing people together in so many ways.

I hope that however it is that the dust settles around all of this, Buffy Sainte-Marie will continue to be known as a great artist and a great voice for making the world a better place, not just as a fallen angel.

David Rovics
Excerpted from “Discovering Buffy
This Week With David Rovics
November 6, 2023



Following is a 6-minute segment of CBC News’ The National, first broadcast October 27, 2023.





Following is APTN News’ October 26, 2023 segment on the video statement released by Buffy the day before the CBC aired its documentary questioning her claims of Indigenous ancestry.





NEXT: Buffy Sainte-Marie: “It Is Time for Me
to Shine a Light on the Truth, My Truth”


Related Off-site Links:
CBC Releases Report Questioning Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Claims to Indigenous Heritage – Jazz Monroe and Matthew Strauss (Pitchfork, October 27, 2023).
Buffy Sainte Marie Is an Icon of Mythic Proportions. There’s Nothing Simple About Questioning Her Origins – Drew Hayden Taylor (The Globe and Mail, October 27, 2023).
Effects of Investigation Into Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Roots Continue to ReverberateAPTN News (November 3, 2023)
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Adoption by Indigenous People Vital – Doug Cuthand (The Star Pheonix, November 4, 2023).
Anishinaabe Singer Says Contested Ancestry of Buffy Sainte-Marie “Doesn’t Take Away the Inspiration”CBC News (October 31, 2023).
Two Indigenous Artists React to the Questions Raised About Buffy Sainte-Marie’s AncestryCBC Arts (October 30, 2023).
Revelations About Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Ancestry Are Having a Devastating Impact on Indigenous Communities Across Canada – Lori Campbell (The Conversation, October 29, 2023).
“We Claim Her, End of Story”: Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Piapot Family Hurt by Allegations – Haley Lewis and Melissa Ridgen (Global News, October 27, 2023). The Problem With Labelling People “Pretendians” – Drew Lafond (The Globe and Mail, May 28, 2022).

UPDATES: Buffy Sainte-Marie Pushes Back Against CBC Investigation Contradicting Claims to Indigenous Ancestry – Kelly Geraldine Malone (The Canadian Press, November 23, 2023).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Says CBC Investigation Into Ancestry Includes Fabrications
– Jessica Wang (Entertainment Weekly, November 23, 2023).
“I Have Never Lied”: Buffy Sainte-Marie Pushes Back On Probe Into Indigenous Ancestry – Kelby Vera (The Huffington Post, November 25, 2023).
What’s the Point of “Pretendian” Investigations? – Michelle Cyca (The Walrus, November 20, 2023).



For The Wild Reed’s special series of posts leading-up to the November 10, 2017 release of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Medicine Songs, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “I’m Creative Anywhere”
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC’s Central Park
Buffy Sainte-Marie, “One of the Best Performers Out Touring Today”
The Music of Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Uprooting the Sources of Disenfranchisement”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Things Do Change and Things Do Get Better”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Medicine Songs



For The Wild Reed’s special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy’s award-winning album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That “Human-Being Magic”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Lesson from the Cutting Edge: “Go Where You Must to Grow”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood


For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Buffy Sainte-Marie on Indigenous Peoples’ Day: “There’s an Awful Lot of Work Yet to Be Done”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Pope’s Apology Is “Just the Beginning”
Sweet America
Carrying It On . . . Into the New Year
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “America the Beautiful”
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the “Spirit of the Wind”
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2016)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2018)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2019)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2020)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2021)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2023)
Actually, There’s No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “The Big Ones Get Away”

Image: Buffy Sainte-Marie and guitarist Anthony King performing at the Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI on Saturday, August 27, 2016. (Photo: Michael J. Bayly)