Academy apologizes to Sachin Littlefeather for 1973 Oscars

The Academy of Arts and Sciences has apologized to Indigenous activist Sachin Littlefeather for the treatment meted out to Marlon Brando during and after turning down the Best Actor Oscar for “The Godfather” in 1973.

Littlefeather is now 75 years old, and she is finally seeing her activism flourish in the place where much of it began. The Academy presented her with an apology privately in June and will honor her on September 17 in a special program geared toward healing and indigenous acceptance.

“I was stunned. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I hear it, experiencing it,” Littlefeather, who is an Apache and Yankee from Arizona, told Hollywood Reporter, “When I was on the podium in 1973, I was standing there alone.”

“I was never allowed to tell my story,” Littlefeather told Aframe. “Never. Never. And now, 50 years or so later, and here we are for the first time.”

“The abuse you suffered because of this statement was unfair and unjustified,” wrote Academy President David Rubin. “The emotional burden you have gone through and the cost to your own career in our industry is irreparable. The courage you have shown for so long is unacceptable. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere appreciation.”

The Academy said a September evening of “conversation, healing and celebration” will honor Littlefeather amid a conversation between them and producer Bird Runningwater, Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache, NM, who co-chairs the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance. Along with a land acknowledgment there will be a lineup of performances by country artists.

When Littlefeather, 26, in a buckskin dress and moccasins, climbed the podium at Brando’s request, there was thunderous applause, but when she began to speak, she too was applauded. She later told that John Wayne had to stop running on stage to deal with her angrily. In the years to come, she will be subjected to harassment and discrimination.

Brando had given her an eight-page speech she didn’t have time to read, so she summarized her feelings in about a minute.

“It is with great regret that I cannot accept this very generous award. And this is because of the way the film industry treats American Indians today,” the actress said.

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As the boos erupted, she continued, “Excuse me — and in the movie reruns on television, and more recently with the incidents of the injured knee.”

She was referring to the 71-day takeover of Wounded Knee, South Dakota by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and 200 Oglala Lakota, protesting a tribal president they said was corrupt, and backing against centuries of abuse. Native Americans to withdraw. Two men, a Cherokee and an Oglala Lakota, were fatally shot. The location was chosen because of its association with the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890.

It wasn’t until 2018 that Littlefeather read Brandon’s entire speech publicly on a radio show for the first time, reported Indian country today,

The blow was horrific from the minute it paved the way for public acknowledgment of the damage done to the Native peoples of the United States today. The Academy Museum said on its web page that it ruined any of her acting careers, as she was “professional ostracized, personally harassed and assaulted, and discriminated against for the past 50 years. ” An Evening with Sachin LittlefeatherSeptember event.

At the time, indigenous people were portrayed in stereotypes in film and television, often as villains. Backtracking on that narrative proved dangerous.

“It was met with such hostility and anger, and I almost paid the price with my life as a result,” Littlefeather told the site of the Academy Museum. frameWith two bullets shot through a door where she was standing, she recalled “an incident with people who shot at me”.

news with wire services

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