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Richie Havens, singer who claimed Blackfeet heritage, passes

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment | National
More on: blackfeet, joanne shenandoah, music, nammys, richie havens

Richie Havens, one of the most iconic singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s, died on Monday. He was 72.

Havens was born in Brooklyn in 1941. He claimed Blackfeet ancestry from his father, whom he said lived on the Shinnecock Nation in New York for a time.

"They were Blackfoot Indian," Havens told National Public Radio of his father's family. "And him and his brother came with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, got off in New York City, and left the show there and ended up on Shinnecock Reservation in Long Island. And he got married there, and moved to Brooklyn, and that’s how my father was born in Brooklyn. And how I ended up being born in Brooklyn as well."

Havens helped launch the Native American Music Awards in April 1998. He performed at NAMA's first award show in May of that year, when he paid tribute to the late Jimi Hendrix, who claimed Cherokee ancestry.

"Richie Havens was a sincere and gifted soul with a powerful presence. I am honored to have called him a colleague and a friend. We were fortunate to share the same stage from the Native American Music Awards, Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. He will continue to inspire us all through his heartfelt and incredible singing and songwriting," said singer Joanne Shenandoah.

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