Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American civil rights activist who declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Best Actor Oscar on his behalf, mentioned that well-known night time and the Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ current apology for the way in which she was handled at an occasion in her honor over the weekend.
Littlefeather’s speech has loomed large in Oscar history: After Brando received the Best Actor prize for his flip in The Godfather, Littlefeather took the stage and, at Brando’s request, declined the award and spoke as an alternative in regards to the stereotyping of Native Americans in movie and TV, in addition to the South Dakota Wounded Knee protest. Littlefeather’s speech was met with boos and jeers; she was threatened with arrest and later claimed that John Wayne tried to “physically assault” her.
Nearly 50 years later, the Academy formally apologized to Littlefeather in a non-public assertion in June. The apology was introduced publicly in August, and over the weekend, the Academy held an occasion in her honor, “An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather.”
In dialog with Academy member Bird Runningwater, Littlefeather remembered the night time with equal quantities of gravity and humor. She joked about seeing a few of her favourite actors within the crowd, like Lee Bowman and Roger Moore, and quipped that she saved her non-acceptance speech “underneath 60 seconds.” But she additionally touched on the commotion going on behind the stage, which she later discovered was six safety guards holding again a livid Wayne.
“Now that was probably the most violent act that ever happened on the Academy Awards,” Littlefeather stated, including that when she walked backstage, she heard folks mocking Native American chants and noticed others doing the tomahawk chop. “I simply saved strolling, in dignity, to the 4 completely different press rooms that I went to. And then, after that, I held my head excessive, and I left with a automotive that was ready for me.”
After Runningwater famous that Littlefeather gave one in all, if not the primary, political speeches on the Oscars, she stated, “I didn’t symbolize myself — I used to be representing all indigenous voices on the market. All indigenous folks. Because we have now by no means been heard in that manner earlier than.”
Along together with her dialog with Runningwater, Littlefeather shared a brief speech in response to the Academy’s apology. Speaking of the challenges she and different indigenous folks had been dealing with in an “impractical society that intentionally got down to erase the existence and variety of Native peoples by genocide and oppression,” Littlefeather stated she accepted Brando’s request understanding “the impression and significance of representing all Native folks on that night time.”
She added: “I’m right here accepting this apology, not just for me alone, however as acknowledgement, understanding that was not just for me, however for all of our Nations, that additionally want to listen to and deserve this apology tonight.” After asking all of the Native folks within the viewers to face, Littlefeather continued, “Be proud that we stand as survivors — all of us. Please, when I’m gone, all the time be reminded that everytime you stand to your fact, you’ll be retaining your voice, and the voices of our Nations and our folks alive.”