July 08, 2009

Buffy on Sesame Street

Interview:  Buffy Sainte-MarieA mixed-blood Cree Indian, she has been a lifelong campaigner for native American Indian rights. She is also a digital artist, who designs her own album covers, and an unsung pioneer of electronic and digital music. Her 1969 album Illuminations was the first-ever synthesiser vocal record and, while making her Coincidence and Likely Stories album more than two decades later, she was among the first to exploit this new-fangled thing called the Internet, by sending her home-recorded music files down a modem line to her producer. Oh, and she also taught a generation of American kids about breast-feeding on Sesame Street.

She found herself an unusual alternative platform in the mid-70s by joining the regular cast of Sesame Street along with her then husband Sheldon Wolfchild and their young son Cody, where they gently explored family life and ethnic identity with Big Bird, Grover and all the gang. "I really wanted the country to understand that Indian people still exist, that we're not stuffed with the dinosaurs in some museum. Nobody expects white people to dress like pilgrims but they always think Indian people are going to be the same as we were in the 1700s. I wanted to reach little kids and their care-givers before stereotyping ever came in."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life" and Lifetime Achievement Award for Buffy.

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