Tag Archives: Activism

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Happy birthday

Clip of Buffy’s Starwalker live from her most recent album, Medicine Songs

Buffy Sainte-Marie was born on February 20, 1941.

If you are familiar with her, then you are certainly familiar with her most famous song, Universal Soldier which Vanguard Records  originally released on Sainte-Marie’s debut album It’s My Way! in 1964.

Neither the album nor the song were successful until Donovan covered Universal Soldier on a UK EP.  That success led to a US single release of his cover which had enough success that Sainte-Marie finally got a bit of the spotlight.

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Early musician

In a 2015 Vogue interview, Sainte-Marie said that, “As a little kid when I was three, I discovered a piano and I found out it made noise and I was fascinated and taught myself how to do what I wanted to do on it. I could play fake Beethoven, and do other things with strange chords that other people didn’t use but that I liked. I banged on pots and pans, I’d play with rubber bands, I’d blow on grass, I played the mouth bow.”

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie


Sainte-Marie attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. In a 2009 Democracy Now interview, she told Amy Goodman that while there, “…I started playing songs for the girls in my dorm and my housemother Theresa de Kerpely, who was from Europe. She really encouraged me, and she encouraged me to listen to people like Edith Piaf, Carmen Amaya, the flamenco dancer-singer, people from other countries. So, from the start of playing for other people, I was absorbing and reflecting, I think, a very wide world culture. International students at the university were a big influence on me.”

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Greenwich Village

Like so many other thoughtful singers of that time, Sainte-Marie went to Greenwich Village, but because of its New York location, “…she [would] go up to Akwesasne, the Mohawk reservation…. And it kind of became the paradigm of my life. I wasn’t intentionally trying to become a bridge for anything, but I did see that people in the cities, they wanted to know. “

Activist Beverly Buffy Sainte Marie

In 1965 Vanguard released Many a Mile, her second album. Her song “Until It’s Time for Your To Go.”  It became her most commercially successful single because so many have covered it including Elvis,  Cher, Bobby Darrin, Andy Williams, Glen Cam;bell, Jim Nabors, Nancy Sinatra, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Willie Nelson, Barbara Streisand, and a “few” others including Neil Diamond. 

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Not mainstream

Despite that commercial success, Buffy Sainte-Marie was no pop star. Her aim was and continues to be more than 50 years later: raise awareness of necessary social changes, particularly the area of Native Americans.

In 1966 her third album,  Little Wheel Spin and Spin,  featured her
“My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying.”

Now that your big eyes have finally opened,

Now that you’re wondering how must they feel,

Meaning them that you’ve chased across America’s movie screens.

Now that you’re wondering how can it be real

That the ones you’ve called colorful, noble and proud

In your school propaganda

They starve in their splendor?

You’ve asked for my comment I simply will render:

My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying.


According to the director Leo Penn, before she agreed to be a part of an episode of the popular TV show The Virginian she insisted “the studio cast Native actors for all the Indian parts (‘No Indians, no Buffy’). She also advocated that the writers bring complexity to her own role. She told them, ‘[I’m] not interested in playing Pocahontas.'”

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Nihewan Foundation

In 1969 She founded the Nihewan Foundation which “is a small private non-profit foundation dedicated improving the education of and about Native American people and cultures. 

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Sesame Street

In 1976 she became a part of Sesame Street and in a TV first was shown explaining breastfeeding to Big Bird while nursing her son Cody.

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie


She left Sesame Street in 1981 and in 1982 co-wrote  “Up Where We Belong,” the theme song to the film An Officer and a Gentleman, with Will Jennings. The song won an Best Song Oscar. 

Sainte-Marie donated the Oscar to the Smithsonian as it was the first time that a Native American had won one.

Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

20th into the 21st Century

Buffy Sainte-Marie has never stood still and has always expanded her artistic panorama far beyond that of music. A 2016 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article listed 75 Things You Need To Know…about her.

And her own site lists the dozens of awards and honorary degrees others have given to her recognizing her lifetime of peace, love, and activism.

On November 10, 2017 she released her latest album, Medicine Songs. She described the album as, “…a collection of front line songs about unity and resistance — some brand new and some classics — and I want to put them to work. These are songs I’ve been writing for over fifty years, and what troubles people today are still the same damn issues from 30-40-50 years ago: war, oppression, inequity, violence, rankism of all kinds, the pecking order, bullying, racketeering and systemic greed. Some of these songs come from the other side of that: positivity, common sense, romance, equity and enthusiasm for life.”


In October 2023, the an investigation by CBC News called into question Sainte-Marie’s claims that she has Indigenous ancestry. Sainte-Marie refutes the allegations.

The investigation alleged that Sainte-Marie was not born on the Piapot First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada, and adopted by a white family as she has claimed for most of her career. Rather, the CBC suggests that she was born to White parents in the small town of Stoneham, Massachusetts.

The report drew on interviews with Sainte-Marie’s family members, genealogical records and archival research. At the heart of the investigation is a birth certificate from a Stoneham hospital that indicates Sainte-Marie was born Beverly Jean Santamaria to Alfred and Winifred Santamaria, who Sainte-Marie has claimed were her adoptive parents.

Complicating matters was that Sainte-Marie said she was adopted as an adult by a couple from the Piapot First Nation. Members of Sainte-Marie’s Piapot family have since stood by her, telling CBC that “Buffy is our family. We chose her and she chose us.”

Every understanding of our spiritual practices, the history our grandparents shared with us and the traditions of the Cree refute your suggestion that our Auntie Buffy is not Indigenous or a member of our community,” some Piapot family members wrote in an email to CBC. [most of this section’s information comes from a CNN article]


Activist Buffy Sainte Marie

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Victor Jara

September 28, 1932 – September 16, 1973

Victor Jara was born in Lonquén, Chile which is approximately 25 miles away from Santiago, the capital of Chile.  The family struggled to survive from the land. His mother loved folk music and when the family rented a room to a teacher who knew how to play guitar, Victor learned a bit of playing.

Amanda, his mother, took Victor and his siblings to Santiago both to find an education for them and to escape an alcoholic father. In Santiago a local resident took a liking to Victor and his quick ability with songs and taught Victor more guitar.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Seminary and military

Amanda died when he was 15 and seeking to fill the hole in his life and following the advice of a priest, Victor entered the seminary. For two years Victor struggled with the strict rules of his future priesthood, particularly that of celibacy.  He left the seminary in 1952. The army drafted him within two weeks.

Though army life suited him and he did well, he left after the year required and began to seek a life in music.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Many paths

As with many aspiring singers, his path led him to various temporary jobs. In a chorus. As a mime. As an actor. A student in the theater program at the University of Chile in the late 1950s.

He met Joan Turner Bunster, an instructor. They would fall in love and marry in 1965.

In 1957 he met Chilean folksinger Violeta Parra. She encourage singers to write about everyday life using traditional Chilean folk styles. Jara followed that path.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Nueva canción songwriter

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Though Jara continued to be involved in actingm writing and performing music became his center. He wrote songs continually.

He released his first album, Canto a lo humano , in 1966.  The songs often stabbed at the status quo. One, “La beata” was about a nun that fell in love with a priest. In a predominantly Catholic country as Chile, such a topic was taboo. Radio stations banned the song. Record shops removed it. His music also became part of a genre known as “nueva canción,” a style that used the traditional style  Violeta Parra had introduced Jara to with a strong populist content.

Jara’s songs spread outside Chile and were known to and performed by American folk artists such as Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and Phil Ochs.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez


More than that, though, was Jara’s increasingly connected himself with socialism. He supported the political views of  Salvador Allende. Jara composed “Venceremos” (We Will Triumph), the theme song of Allende’s Unidad Popular (Popular Unity) movement, and he welcomed Allende’s election to the Chilean presidency in 1970.

Allende’s success enabled Jara and his wife to help in a Chilean cultural renaissance. They helped organize events that supported the country’s new socialist government.

The right-wing politicians, with the aid of the American Central Intelligence Agency, planned a revolt.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez


On September 11, 1973, troops under the command of General Augusto Pinochet overthrew Allende government.  The military took hundreds of Allende sympathizers to the Estadio Chile, a large sports stadium.

Jara was among them.

For four days, soldiers tortured him. Starved him. Broke his hands and told him to sing with his guitar.

He sang “Venceremos” and began writing a new song describing the carnage going on in the stadium, as many of those imprisoned were killed; the words of the new song were smuggled out by a prisoner who survived.

Jara was taken to a deserted area and shot. His murder kept secret. His songs forbidden. Joan Jara escaped On May 9, 1974, Phil Ochs held a benefit. Among those who performed were Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Dennis Hopper, Arlo Guthrie, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson, Melanie, and Bob Dylan (NYT announcement)

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez


Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

In 2003 the Estadio Chile became the Víctor Jara Stadium.

In 2012 eight retired Chilean army officers were charged with Jara’s murder and on June 27, 2016 a Florida jury found  former Chilean army officer Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez liable for the 1973 torture and murder of Jara. The jury awarded  $28m in damages to his widow and daughters in one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.

And on July 3, 2018, a statement from Chile’s courts authority said that Judge Miguel Vázquez  had sentenced eight retired Chilean military officers to 15 years in prison for the murder of Victor Jara.

Vázquez handed down the sentences after leading a long-running inquiry into Jara’s death.

A ninth suspect was jailed for five years for his role in covering up the killings.

Victor Lidio Jara Martínez

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

These are the times that try men’s souls

On December 23, 1776 Thomas Paine wrote his most famous words and painfully appropriate words: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

The seventy-seven words that follow those eight are equally appropriate: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

The  reality of life is that trying times give us the opportunity to Rise up!

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

What is INDECLINE? Their webpage‘s answer is simple: INDECLINE is an American Activist Collective founded in 2001. It is comprised of graffiti writers, filmmakers, photographers and full-time rebels and activists. INDECLINE focuses on social, ecological and economical injustices carried out by American and International governments, corporations and law enforcement agencies. INDECLINE is NOT an anarchist group.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE


What are some of INDECLINE’s projects? In August 2012, the group installed a billboard on Interstate 15 in Las Vegas with Dying for Work in black lettering on a white background and a dummy hanging from it by a noose; a companion billboard, also with a hanged man, read “Hope you’re happy Wall St.”

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

In April 2015, eight people spent six days creating the largest piece of illegal graffiti in the world: “This land was our land”, painted on a disused military runway in the Mojave Desert.  Click the YouTube link below to watch the project.

In October 2015, in response to Trump calling Mexicans “rapists”, the group spray-painted a mural depicting him with the slogan “¡Rape Trump!” on an old border wall on US territory approximately a mile from the Tijuana airport.

In March 2016, members of the group glued names of African-Americans killed by police over names on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and also glued the Indecline logo to the stars.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

The project that garnered the most media attention was the Trump statue. Trump statues actually. August 18, 2016, life-sized statues of Trump appeared on sidewalks in Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

The combination clay/silicone sculptures were unflattering to say the least. The artist depicted a very overweight old person whose face appeared discomforted and had varicose veins, a very small penis, and no scrotum.

Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, the artist, entitled each as The Emperor Has No Balls. In some instances the city removed the statue, in others local merchants bought them.

The New York City Parks Department stated that it “stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”

One of the statues was set on the roof of a warehouse overlooking the New Jersey entrance to the Holland Tunnel, where Indecline also placed an inverted US flag.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE


There most recent project is entitled “Death Metals.” They  “re-purposed a gold ore processing facility on the Mojave National Preserve that was closed in 1994 and declared a Superfund site.”

There are many other videos of their work that can be viewed at the group’s site.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE