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An Oscars Apology for Sacheen Littlefeather, 50 Years After Brando Protest

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apologized to Apache and Yaki actress and activist Sashen Littlefeather, who was booed onstage at the 1973 Oscars after refusing the Best Actor Award on behalf of Marlon Brando.

academy said in a statement June, nearly 50 years after 75-year-old Mr. Littlefeather burst through the 1973 Academy Awards front door adorned with glittering statues and bright lights, imbuing the ceremony with criticism of the media’s Native American stereotypes. , he apologized to 75-year-old Mr. Littlefeather.

Her appearance at the ceremony, the first time a Native American woman took the Academy Awards stage, is perhaps one of the most famous and devastating moments in the history of awards ceremonies.

As Littlefeather, then 26, spoke, some in the audience cheered her and others mocked her.One actor, John Wayne, was very upset that show producerMarty Passetta said security had to restrain him so he wouldn’t storm the stage.

In an interview, Littlefeather said she was “stunned” by the apology. hollywood reporter“I never thought the day would come when I would hear this and experience this,” she said.

“When I stood on the podium in 1973, I was standing there alone,” she added.

In his 1973 speech, Mr. Littlefeather also drew attention to the federal government’s conflict with Native Americans at Wounded Knee. The speech came just before he was called on stage to replace Mr. Bland, who was slated to win the Best Actor Award for his performance. Vito Corleone in “The Godfather”.

Mr Littlefeather said in an interview with the Academy: It was published On Monday, she was planning to watch the 45th Academy Awards on TV like everyone else when she got a call the night before the ceremony from Mr. Brand. We became friends through Francis Ford Coppola. Mr. Brand asked her to decline her award on his behalf if he won.

Ms. Littlefeather arrived at the ceremony with about 15 minutes left in the official program, wearing a sparkling buckskin dress, moccasins and hair ties. Littlefeather said she had little information on how the night would work, but Brand gave her a speech to read if she won.

That plan evaporated when an Oscar producer saw the page in her hand and said she would be arrested if her comments lasted longer than 60 seconds.

After introducing herself, she explained that Mr. Bland would not accept the award because of his concerns about the image of Native Americans in film, television and the government. she stopped.

“And I focused on the mouths and jaws of the audience. There were quite a few,” she told the Academy. “But it was like watching the Clorox ocean.” There were very few people of color in the audience.”

The crowd quieted down and Ms. Littlefeather mentioned the standoff on her injured knee and left the stage without touching the gold Oscar statuette. Later, when she went to Mr. Brand’s house, people shot the doorway she was standing in.

“When I got back to Marlon’s house, there was an incident where people started shooting at me,” she said. , I was on the other side of it.”

Littlefeather, who was unavailable for an interview on Tuesday, told the Academy that speaking about these events in 2022 “felt like a big cleanse.”

“I feel like the sacred wheel is being completed before I go into this life,” Littlefeather told The Guardian. June 2021 She had terminal breast cancer.

In his apology to Littlefeather, David Rubin, former president of the Academy, wrote that the abuse she faced because of her speech was “unjustified and unjustified.”

“For too long, the courage you showed was not recognized,” Rubin wrote. “For this, we offer both our heartfelt apologies and our heartfelt commendation.”

Rubin’s letter will be read next month in the Academy Museum’s program “An Evening with Satchen Littlefeather.”

The Academy described it as an event of “conversation, reflection, healing and celebration.” In a statement, Littlefeather said the event will feature Native American performers and speakers, including Suquamish singer Carina Lawrence and Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Native Alliance, a Cheyenne and Mescalero. Apache.

“It’s so heartening to see how much we’ve changed since we didn’t win an Academy Award 50 years ago,” she said.

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