CBC Digital Archives

Singer Buffy Sainte-Marie in an early interview

On Saturday afternoons for 21 years, dedicated listeners would "get their bannock and tea," and tune into CBC Radio for news from Our Native Land. The first - and so far only - national radio program focused on native issues and cultures, it chronicled the rejuvenation of native literature, art, culture and political activism beginning in 1965. Hosts included Johnny Yesno, Bernelda Wheeler, Albert Angus and Brian Maracle, who were part of the all-aboriginal production team.

She is a peace activist, an outspoken advocate for aboriginal people, and a well-known folksinger. But to a generation of Sesame Street fans, she is just Buffy, a young woman who interacts with Muppets and kids to show viewers that, in her words, "Indians still exist."

Born on a Saskatchewan reserve and raised in Maine, Buffy Sainte-Marie frequently returns to her birthplace to spend time with family and keep her son, Dakota, in touch with his roots. In this wide-ranging 1979 conversation with Don Harron, Sainte-Marie talks about working with Muppets, her hopes for Dakota's generation, the lack of good dramatic roles for aboriginal actors, and her advocacy of breastfeeding. 

• For five years, from 1976 to 1981, Buffy Sainte-Marie was a regular as "Buffy" on Sesame Street. Her infant son, Dakota Starblanket Wolfchild, joined her on the show. In one memorable segment, Buffy explains breastfeeding to a curious Big Bird. "I get to hug him when I do it, see," she tells Big Bird.

• In 1982 Sainte-Marie won an Academy Award for her song Up Where We Belong, recorded by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes for the movie An Officer and a Gentleman

Medium: Radio
Program: Don Harron's Morningside
Broadcast Date: Nov. 8, 1979
Guest(s): Buffy Sainte-Marie
Interviewer: Don Harron
Duration: 9:38
Photo: CBC Still Image Collection

Last updated: June 5, 2012

Page consulted on April 11, 2013

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