Canadians claim moral superiority over Americans, but historically when it comes to dealing with issues of race, we're no better than anybody else. We have been the master of discreet and covert discrimination from almost the moment we became a country in 1867. Just look at the nearly successful campaign of cultural genocide that we carried out against Native Canadians with the Residential School system. Children were stolen away from their parents, some transported thousands of miles from home, in order to make them useful citizens.This included stripping them of their identities by changing their names, forbidding them to speak anything but English (or French if they were in Quebec), and being taught that their parent's beliefs were superstitions that was going to send them all to hell.
In spite of their best efforts, the combined efforts of the government and the Anglican and Catholic Churches weren't quite successful. Enough people held on to their nation's culture and preserved it for the lost generations. Lost because not only didn't they fit into the white world, they didn't fit into the world of their parents either. Unlike others her age, Buffy Sainte-Marie avoided Residential school, but was "adapted" by a predominantly white family (her adopted mother was part Mik'maq) in New England, miles away from her family in Saskatchewan, Canada. Her mother did tell her that there was a world of difference between what she saw in the movies and the reality of being Native American, but she could find out about that stuff when she was an adult if she wanted.
As anyone who is familiar with Buffy Sainte-Marie's music, activism, or art knows she most definitely found out the truth about the circumstances of Native Americans in contemporary society. Her latest release, Running For The Drum, not only once again confirms her talents as singer and songwriter, but reaffirms her commitment to the culture of her people. However, as the DVD documentary, Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life, included as a bonus, shows she's not interested in merely preserving the culture like a museum piece, but keeping it a living breathing entity that isn't afraid to be part of the modern world.
One doesn't need to look any further than the music on Running For The Drum for examples of that as she draws just as heavily upon modern musical influences as traditional native ones when writing her material. In A Multimedia Life she says that her musical influences included everything from R&B, early rock and roll, Miles Davis, to the French singer Edith Piaf, and you can hear traces of just about all of them on the new disc. Right from the first cut you know this isn't going to be the type of "Native" music they sell in New Age emporiums. There's nothing ethereal about the strident challenge of the lyrics, the dance club beat that pulses underneath it, and the sound effects that surround "No No Keshagesh".