September 26, 2022

The Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather, who declined an Academy Award on behalf of Marlon Brando

The Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather, who declined an Academy Award on behalf of Marlon Brando

Nearly 50 years later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially apologizes to Little Feather for the mistreatment she suffered while speaking and in the years following.

“The offense to which I was subjected by this statement was inexcusable and unjustifiable,” former Academy President David Rubin wrote in a letter to Littlefeather. “The emotional burden you have experienced and the cost of your career in our industry is irreplaceable. For too long, the courage you have shown has not been recognized. For this, we offer our deepest apologies and sincere admiration.”

In a statement, Littlefeather described the upcoming event, during which she will receive the apology in person, “a dream come true.”

“Regarding the academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient – ​​it’s only been 50 years!” She said. “We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our way of surviving.”

Several Indigenous artists will perform during the event for Littlefeather, including Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance, and Virginia Carmelo, a descendant of the Tongfa people who will lead the Declaration of Recognition of the Land.

“It’s very encouraging to see how much has changed since I didn’t accept an Academy Award 50 years ago,” Little Feather said.

Her speech was booed and applauded

When Brando won Best Actor for his starring role in The Godfather, he was absent. In his stead, he asked Littlefeather, then an actress and activist, to attend the ceremony – and declined the award on his behalf.

take the stage Quietly and quietly dressed in a suede, Littlefeather formally introduced herself as an Apache woman and chairperson of the National Committee for the Positive Image of Native Americans.
“(Brando) very unfortunately cannot accept this very generous award, and the reasons for that are the film industry’s treatment of American Indians today,” He said To a mixture of boos and applause, pausing and appearing visibly upset. “I beg at this time that I did not intrude this evening, and that in the future, our hearts and understandings will meet with love and generosity.”
Brando also refused to accept the award due to the federal response to injured knee, when members of the American Indian movement occupied the town of South Dakota but were met with resistance from federal law enforcement. Little Feather said she promised Brando she wouldn’t touch the Oscar statue, she said.
“I focused on the mouths and jaws that were opening to the audience, and there were quite a few”, Tell The Academy’s official blog, A.Frame. “But it was like looking at the Clorox Sea, you know, there were very few people of color in the audience.”
She also said that John Wayne, the conservative western star who once He said “The Indians were selfishly trying to keep (the United States) to themselves,” they accused, of “taking her off the podium,” despite being restrained by security guards.

After the ceremony, Littlefeather said she was “silent” and was struggling to find work in the film industry. She devoted much of her post-Oscars career to activism and founding performing arts organizations for Aboriginal actors.

Despite the condemnation she has received from some in Hollywood who disagreed with her defenses of Native Americans, Littlefeather said she has received praise and support from leaders such as Coretta Scott King and Cesar Chavez.

“I knew I did the right thing,” she told A.Frame.

Correction: This article has been updated to note that David Rubin is the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.