Sainte-Marie is part Cree and was born on the Piapot Reserve in Canada. She was adopted by a white family from Maine, USA, and raised in Maine and Massachusetts. Her family encouraged her interest in her origins and also her musical talents.
She has degrees in teaching and oriental philosophy and a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts. She was a major figure in the folk-song renaissance of the 1960s and '70s as a singer and composer. Her own albums include It's My Way, Many a Mile, Sweet America and Coincidence (and Likely Stories), and she composed the scores for the films Harold of Orange and Great Spirit in the Hole. Individual songs of hers such as "Universal Soldier," "Up Where We Belong," "Until it's Time for You to Go," "The Piney Wood Hills," "He's an Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo" and "Now that the Buffalo's Gone" were also recorded by other singers and she earned a blacklisting by the Johnson administration for her anti-war activities.
She spent five years as a regular on Sesame Street and since the folk revolution was taken over by commercial interests she has concentrated more on her art, touring outside the USA, writing and experimental music.
Sandall, Robert. "Women Right on Song," The Times [London], 26 January 1992, p. 6/7 Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 2nd edition, edited by Colin Larkin. (New York: Stockton Press, 1995) ["Well Known People Who Happen to Be Canadian:] Buffy Sainte-Marie." [Includes portrait]. Available at: