Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 3, 2014

Buffy Sainte-Marie 'The Charlie Hill Award'

Special thanks to Buffy Saint-Marie for sharing this tribute with Censored News which honors Oneida-Cree Comedian Charlie HIll

By Buffy Sainte Marie
Censored News
Dutch translation NAIS


Here’s a letter I wrote 6 years ago to some Native American philanthropy groups who were discussing whom they should fund: I thought Charlie Hill. Although at the time there wasn't the response I'd hoped for to fund our non-establishment off-the-grid unique artists, the point still makes sense to me to fund our heroes. I presented Charlie with the Creative Native Award in the mid-70s, but he was generally very much under-rated. Somebody should pick this up, create a Charlie Hill Award for contributions like his own.
Big love, All, as we celebrate and remember the life of our friend and Brother, Charlie.

Feb 26, 2008
Charlie Hill: Time, Treasure and Talent

Do we give an award to people like Charlie Hill? i.e. Non-members whose contributions inspire philanthropists and philanthropy within the specifically Native community and far beyond? If not, maybe we should.

Oneida-Cree comedian from Wisconsin. Charlie Hill's giving has been not been in the professional philanthropy arena, but In Kind in the form of countless benefit concerts; risk-taking for the truth; offering inspiration, friendship and a break-for-laughs for down and out audiences on the rez; and creating true – and truly hilarious – defenses of the truth about Ind’n realities; and poignant, accurate, and very funny portrayals of our cultural treasures: us!

Besides helping raise money and awareness as a beloved peer among non-profit and foundation people making things better in Indian communities, Charlie Hill has done more. He stepped right up and laid out the rare truth on the Tonight Show, Richard Pryor, Letterman, Roseanne and lots of other television shows. The impact of any individual Indian seeing a Native American funny guy on national TV, getting people to laugh with us and identify with us, and maybe see us for the first time is a contribution to the entire Native American world. It’s equivalent to somebody building a community college. It influences everybody and reaches very


Charlie Hill has influenced three generations of Native American and non-Indian people from the stage with bridge-building - within a sense of ethnic teasing. His shows have always been delivered clean and appropriate across generations.

Some people give time. Some people give treasure. Charlie Hill gives Talent. His talent has been a long and effective bridge among cultures getting together in a roomful of laughs, and an understandable effective bridge for college students trying to make sense of the world at a university benefit. Speaking as a philanthropist who sees lots of hard working angels on the edge of burn out, I would prescribe a dose of Charlie Hill and a good belly laugh.

Maybe it’s a crazy idea but somebody ought to honour Charlie and his In Kind kind of giving.

Also see:
In Memorial, Charlie Hill at AIM 40 Year Reunion (Audio by Earthcycles and Censored News)
Video: Charlie Hill on Richard Pryor Show 1977

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