Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather, who refused an Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf

Virtually 50 years later, the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences is formally apologizing to Littlefeather for the mistreatment she skilled throughout her speech and within the years to observe.

“The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified,” former Academy president David Rubin wrote in a letter to Littlefeather. “The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

In a press release, Littlefeather referred to as the upcoming occasion, throughout which she’ll obtain the apology in particular person, “a dream come true.”

“Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people — it’s only been 50 years!” she stated. “We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our method of survival.”

A number of Indigenous artists will carry out through the occasion for Littlefeather, together with Chook Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance, and Virginia Carmelo, a descendent of the Tongva individuals who will lead a land acknowledgment.

“It is profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago,” Littlefeather stated.

Her speech earned boos and applause

When Brando received finest actor for his starring function in “The Godfather,” he was absent. In his stead, he requested Littlefeather, then an actress and activist, to attend the ceremony — and to refuse the award on his behalf.

Taking the stage quietly and calmly in a buckskin gown, Littlefeather solemnly launched herself as an Apache lady and president of the Nationwide Native American Affirmative Picture Committee.
“(Brando) very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award, and the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry,” she stated to a mixture of boos and applause, pausing and showing visibly upset. “I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening, and that we will, in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity.”
Brando additionally refused to simply accept the award as a result of federal response to Wounded Knee, when members of the American Indian Motion occupied the South Dakota city however had been met by resistance from federal legislation enforcement. Littlefeather stated she promised Brando that she would not contact the Oscar statuette, she stated.
“I focused in on the mouths and the jaws that were dropping open in the audience, and there were quite a few,” she instructed the official Academy weblog, A.Body. “But it was like looking into a sea of Clorox, you know, there were very few people of color in the audience.”
She additionally stated that John Wayne, the conservative Western star who as soon as stated “Indians were selfishly trying to keep (the US) for themselves,” charged at her to “take (her) off the stage,” although he was restrained by safety guards.

After the ceremony, Littlefeather stated she was “silenced” and struggled to seek out work within the movie trade. She devoted a lot of her profession post-Oscars to activism and founding performing arts organizations for Indigenous actors.

Regardless of the condemnation she acquired from some in Hollywood who disagreed together with her defenses of Native People, Littlefeather stated she acquired reward and help from leaders like Coretta Scott King and Cesar Chavez.

“I knew I had done the right thing,” she instructed A.Body.

Correction: This text has been up to date to notice that David Rubin is the previous president of the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences.