For the second year in a row, an Indigenous woman has won the Polaris Prize.
In what continues to be another banner year for the Indigenous music community, Sainte-Marie’s Polaris win comes closely on the heels of last year’s winner, Tanya Tagaq.
Humble and gracious in her acceptance of the $50,000 award, the 74-year-old singer adds the prize to an iconic career’s worth of accolades but, Power in the Blood, marks one of the Polaris’ most overtly political nods in the award’s history. That is, if you forget the list of over 1,000 names of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that accompanied Tagaq’s stellar performance last year—or the resistance rhythms of 2012 nominees A Tribe Called Red.
As Matt Williams wrote, over at Noisey:
Power In The Blood, besides being a powerful, affecting and triumphant record, is steeped deeply in politics. Those politics are pretty status quo for a group of left-leaning media elite (Power In The Blood rails against corporations and colonialism, speaks up for the environment), and that’s what makes it a safe choice. But it also doesn’t particularly matter. In the 2015 stable of Polaris noms, Buffy Sainte-Marie had the only album that really, truly said something, or spoke up consistently for something bigger than its creator…And that’s a pretty great reason to give someone an award. Sainte-Marie said she planned to split the prize money between charities for animal rights, marginalized people, and indigenous people and the environment.
In 2015, it has become absolutely clear that not only are Indigenous artists at the forefront of contemporary culture, they are also finally receiving much overdue recognition for their continued creativity, vision, and artistry.
Buffy is a living legend in the Indigenous community, but it’s taken until her seventh decade on this planet for the Canadian music community to realize the depth and profundity of her singularly iconic creative expression. “Aboriginal music has been good for a very long time,” Buffy said, “but nobody has been listening to it”.
We’ve known all along. And we’re glad everyone is else is catching up.
“Seems like Indigenous women are just totally making waves & taking over the place!”, said Métis artist Christi Belcourt. They are. And they should be.
If you haven’t heard Power in the Blood, now’s your chance to stream it below.