Monday, July 02, 2007


Today's special guest blogger is Buffy Sainte-Marie, who sang an old song on the radio on Saturday that once again broke my heart, especially when she sang about what happened to Annie Mae. The host of the show didn't even mention the national day of action held on Friday by Canada's First Nations peoples, but I don't think his choice to play this song the day after was a coincidence.

As I wrote recently on the Suokojamin blog, "I've always been sympathetic to First Nations land claims, but never done anything about it really other than argue with my non-aboriginal friends about it. Being in Mongolia, where people live off the land, where land is so important to their survival and to their souls, where there is so much vast openness, really hit the point home to me. The Europeans who settled Canada stole a way of life, and we perpetuate that sin to this day. It's unresolved. I don't know what the resolution should be, but it's a national shame." Grammatical weaknesses aside, I still feel that way.

Now, the powerful words of the great Buffy Sainte Marie:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
by Buffy Sainte Marie

INTRO:Indian legislation on the desk of a do-right Congressman
Now, he don't know much about the issue
so he picks up the phone and he asks advice from the Senator
out in Indian country
A darling of the energy companies
who are ripping off what’s left of the reservations.


I learned a safety rule
I don’t know who to thank
Don't stand between the reservation
and the corporate bank
They send in federal tanks
It isn’t nice but it’s reality

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
bury my heart at Wounded Knee.


They got these energy companies
that want the land
and they’ve got churches by the dozen
who want to guide our hands
and sign Mother Earth
over to pollution, war and greed
[Get rich... get rich quick.]


We got the federal marshals
We got the covert spies
We got the liars by the fire
We got the FBIs
They lie in court and get nailed
and still Peltier goes off to jail


My girlfriend Annie Mae
talked about uranium
Her head was filled with bullets
and her body dumped
The FBI cut off her hands
and told us she’d died of exposure
[Loo loo loo loo loo]


We had the Goldrush Wars
Aw, didn’t we learn to crawl
and still our history gets written
in a liar’s scrawl
They tell ‘ya "Honey, you can still be an Indian
d-d-down at the ‘Y’ on Saturday nights"

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.


[for more info about these words, visit here.]

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It saddens me to think of this, and reminds me of the breathtaking ignorance of Aboriginal culture I witnessed in Aus.

Ah, the Europeans. We are tyrants indeed.
Manifest Destiny and the crushing of the ignorant savages that stood in the way of it. Bury my heart at wounded knee also, or Buffalo creek or anyone of a hundred places where we, in our history never valued any culture but our own or those that could add wealth to white culture.

Come to think of it we still don't do we?
UTMG: and your descendents are even worse.

TWM: alas, collectively, we don't.
Thanks for your visit. Are you Canadian?
I am Canadian - I don't think I'd be so harsh on Canada if I wasn't. I feel lucky to be Canadian, but not particularly proud of it. I mean it's just something I was born into, not something I made.

Thanks for reciprocating said visit, EOTR.
Powerful lyrics.

This type of thing really is Canada's shame. It bothers me to no end how the average Canadian seems to believe that a few successful court cases and some money being handed down is sufficient to wash hundreds of years of cruelty and misdeeds down the drain.
What a memory you bring back, Benji. I owned her albums in the 1960s. Her message is as relevant now as it was then.
I will continue to reciprocate. I saw the CA and thought California, then I wondered: but he must be Canadian. Trust me, friend, you are lucky. You don't want to come to this place.
Recalling the horror of the battle of Wounded Knee in a modern reflection of the anarchy and apathy that still exists towards many First Nations issues is a powerful position on her part.

And artists such as Buffy have opened the door, albeit marginally, to allow for greater growth, development and freedom of celebration of the cultural that is so richly theirs to express.

(Not that I am at all bias in my Canadian view as I slowly descend from upon my soapbox)

PP: to paraphrase the great Bob Marley, sister you're right, you're right, soooo right.

Tomcat: yeah both my parents are fans and I'm pretty sure that's how I got into her music. She's a helluva painter too, check her web site.

EOTR: great to have you aboard. I know I'm lucky, not only to be Canadian but to be a white male aged 18-39 with an education and a bit of money in my pocket (most of the time) - the world is pretty much designed for me. Everyone should be so lucky, and my beef is that they ain't. But I know what your saying about the elephant to the south of me - I just hope it does't decide to roll over on us (to paraphrase the so-so Pierrer Trudeau).
Okami, you did well from up there, and you make a really important point. I think her song is as much about cultural survival, resilience, and power as it is about the crimes of white society. The hierarchy of the oppressor has proven no match for the resilience of indigenous cultures across the Americas. Many First Nations people are re-learning their languages, songs, and traditions, while at the same time reinventing them, making new songs, new art, and new ways of being that are distinctly their own.

At least, that's been my observation from the whitestream.
Prime time TV is largely junk, so I watch Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network here in Canada.

More often than not, it rocks, with the likes of Billy Joe Green and wizard keyboard player Murray Porter.
There is a fascinating program hosted by Doug Proulx which explores all branches of aboriginal music and culture.

I was especially intrigued by Mr Proulx's study of the Gullah people, island dwellers off South Carolina.
Here was a mixture of black former slave and Amerind, and the music they produce is like nothing I've ever heard before, especially the song "Carolina", but from a slave perspective.
I thought I was in church!

I wrote into the program and they advised me to send my notes along so they could continue to seek funding for APTN.
Told them that as a non-aboriginal, I could somehow identify with the show-- and keep up the good work.

The Indians know things we don't, and may yet save our fogbound culture.

Ivan, I agree completely. My favourite radio station is Aboriginal Voices Radio. Just like on TV, the mainstream stuff sucks, but AVR plays fantastic music from all genres, often with provocative lyrics.
Cool song! Thanks for introducing me to a new song. : )
This elephant down here needs a tranq gun. Before it dies from exertion. Before it tramples it's last victim and becomes a victim of the practices it is teaching the world.

Everything we do now is an extension of what we did to indigenous populations and to fellow republics on this hemisphere during our long history of manifesting whatever we wanted to when we wanted it and calling it destiny to make it sound pretty. The American dream is truly a nightmare to all non white skinned people in this land.

And the lyrics are new to me, they flow and have timeless appeal while speaking of historic events--not an easy task for any writer, whether poetry or songs are their forte. Goood choice.
the three o good. That's right.
mytopia, you're welcome; you should hear her sing it, what a voice. the indigo girls also did a nice cover.

eric: all too true, and all based on a worldview based on dominion over all and everything.
Taht's an amazing lyric!

For a moment, when I saw "Buffy", I got chills, thinking "Oh, no, another vampire-slayer fan that's gonna rant on why the show is AMAZING!"

Thank God it wasn't! :)
Glad you liked it HOD. Nope, never seen an episode of that other Buffy in my life, and I'm not one to rant about my favourite TV shows.
Don't watch the other Buffy... I love how you labeled her "the other Buffy"! LOL
The lyrics are in my March posts if you are interested
Thanks for visiting the Shadowlands! America has the same "history" with the original inhabitants whose land was stolen. Oklahoma, too, shares a rich history with the Native Americans who lived here and those who were moved here to "reservations."
The native nation lies in ruins, certainly, and I don't know if it will ever stand strong again. The problems they have come from all sides; from the greedy that couldn't care less, to well meaning types who interefere with the best of intentions and make matters worse.

But then, what can be done? I don't know. I don't think anyone can say they do.
HOD: one might even say 'the lesser buffy'.

BBE: I checked those out, really amazing stuff.

EAM: yeah, the elephant and the beaver are more same than different.

Trevor: It's not really for me to say. What I personally hope to do, within the next few months, is to approach some organizations working on aboriginal land claims issues and see if there is anything I can do to help them. I think you're right that no one person has the answers, but there are many strong leaders with strong visions and wise strategies, and there is no reason to lose hope.

I met up with an old young friend the other night who, though not a First Nations person, is learning the Ojibway language, and hopes to get involved in its revival. There are surely ways we can all use whatever skills we have for aboriginal cultural survival and revival.
Do you have email? if you please :)
crash: zactly.

ms. smack: comin' up.
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