But the award (which comes with a cash prize of $10,000) tends to go to someone who's contributed not just to folk music, but to the community as a whole. And in that regard, Sainte-Marie is also a perfect choice.
She's been a tireless advocate for the rights of First Nations people, from the days of the burgeoning "Native American" movement right on through to the present. Her outspokenness led her to be blacklisted by then-U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson in the '60s, a tactic that nearly put her out of business. But after a 16-year hiatus, she returned to music in 1992 with the album Coincidence and Likely Stories, using an early version of the Internet to comment on the plight of aboriginals through tracks like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and The Big Ones Get Away.