Sacheen Littlefeather receives apology at Academy event 49 years after Marlon Brando’s Oscars protest

Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American activist who endured decades of harassment after turning down Marlon Brando’s Best Actor award at the 1973 Academy Awards, has received an official apology. from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) at an event Saturday.

Nearly 50 years ago, Littlefeather stood on stage after Brando was awarded for his performance in Godfather. Speaking on his behalf, she rejected the statue and instead gave a 60-second speech to raise awareness of Native American issues.

“We cooperated at the time, because [Brando] very aware of the Indian stereotype in film, television and sports. And so am I,” Littlefeather said at the event, in conversation with Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Coalition.

“It was through prayer that I went up there,” she said. “I went up there as a proud Indian woman; with dignity, with courage, with grace and with humility.”

While on stage, Littlefeather is in high spirits, joking and recalling her friendship with Brando. The event features speeches and performances by carefully selected Indigenous artists, many of whom are the children and grandchildren of her friends. Live show starts at 8 p.m. ET.

Reading the apology letter he wrote to her in June, former AMPAS president David Rubin told Littlefeather, “the abuse you have suffered because of this claim is unfounded and unfounded. .”

“You are forever respected in our history,” he added.

Littlefeather, Apache and Yaqui, were just 26 years old when Brando – her friend and runner-up for that year’s award for his performance as mafia boss Vito Corleone – asked her to attend the ceremony on his behalf. me and declined the prize.

When Brando won the award that night, Littlefeather stood up on stage. Brando “unfortunately could not accept this generous award, and the reason for this is because of the film industry’s treatment of American Indians today,” she said.

VIEW | Sacheen Littlefeather Turns Down Marlon Brando’s Oscar:

She also mentioned the 1973 occupation of Wound Knee in SouthDakota, where the disagreement between Lakota activists and US federal agents became a pivotal moment in the fight for American rights. native.

Dressed in a deerskin dress and moccasins, Littlefeather spoke to a divided audience, half of whom clapped and half scoffed as she spoke. She later said she was the target of racist harassment behind the scenes, with stereotypical war-makers crying out at her, and actor John Wayne trying to take the plunge. her when she speaks on stage.

“It was the most violent act that ever took place at the Oscars,” Littlefeather told Runningwater on Saturday.

She also said that a producer of the 1973 show threatened her, telling her that if she spoke for more than 60 seconds, he would arrest her and put her in jail. Brando read her an eight-page speech and she was forced to improvise.

“You can see, I wasn’t under any pressure that night,” she joked.

Littlefeather, an actress at the time, said she was blacklisted by Hollywood and harassed for years after the speech.

“I don’t represent myself. I represent all the Indigenous voices out there, all the Indigenous people, because we’ve never been heard that way before,” she told the audience. fake.

“If I have to pay for admission, that’s okay. Because those doors have to be opened.”

In these screenshots taken from a live video of the event, Sacheen Littlefeather discusses her experience at the 1973 Academy Awards and its aftermath with Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the Copy Alliance. campus of the Academy. (Movie Museum / YouTube)

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