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

The Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences has apologized to Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache and Yaqui actress and activist who was booed onstage on the Oscars in 1973 after she refused the very best actor award on behalf of Marlon Brando.

The Academy said in a statement on Monday that it had apologized to Ms. Littlefeather, 75, in June, almost 50 years after Ms. Littlefeather pierced by the Academy Awards facade of shiny statues and brilliant lights in 1973 and injected the ceremony with criticism about Native American stereotypes in media.

Her look on the ceremony, the primary time a Native American lady stood onstage on the Academy Awards, is maybe one of many best-known disruptive moments within the historical past of the award ceremony.

When Ms. Littlefeather, then 26, spoke, among the viewers cheered her and others jeered. One actor, John Wayne, was so unsettled that a show producer, Marty Pasetta, mentioned safety guards needed to restrain him in order that he wouldn’t storm the stage.

Ms. Littlefeather mentioned she was “shocked” by the apology in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I by no means thought I’d dwell to see the day I might be listening to this, experiencing this,” she mentioned.

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

Ms. Littlefeather additionally introduced consideration to the federal authorities’s standoff at Wounded Knee with Native Individuals within the 1973 speech, which she got here up with shortly earlier than being known as onstage on behalf of Mr. Brando, who was to obtain the very best actor award for his efficiency as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.”

Ms. Littlefeather mentioned in an interview with the Academy, which was published on Monday, that she had been planning to look at the forty fifth Academy Awards on tv like everybody else when she obtained a name the night time earlier than the ceremony from Mr. Brando. The 2 had turn out to be associates by her neighbor, the director Francis Ford Coppola. Mr. Brando requested her to refuse the award on his behalf if he gained.

Ms. Littlefeather arrived on the ceremony with solely about quarter-hour left of the official program, carrying a glimmering buckskin costume, moccasins and hair ties. Ms. Littlefeather mentioned she had little details about how the night time would work, however Mr. Brando had given her a speech to read if he gained.

That plan evaporated when a producer for the Oscars noticed the pages in her hand and advised he she can be arrested if her feedback lasted greater than 60 seconds, she mentioned.

She launched herself, then defined that Mr. Brando wouldn’t be accepting the award due to his issues concerning the picture of Native American folks in movie and tv and by the federal government. She paused when a mixture of boos and cheers erupted from the viewers.

“And I centered in on the mouths and the jaws that had been dropping open within the viewers, and there have been fairly a number of,” she advised the Academy. “However it was like trying right into a sea of Clorox, you recognize, there have been only a few folks of colour within the viewers.”

The group quieted, and Ms. Littlefeather talked about the Wounded Knee standoff after which left the stage with out touching the golden Oscars statue. She mentioned some viewers members did the so-called “tomahawk chop” at her and that when she went to Mr. Brando’s home later, folks shot on the doorway the place she was standing.

“Once I went again to Marlon’s home, there was an incident with folks taking pictures at me,” she mentioned. “And there have been two bullet holes that got here by the doorway of the place I used to be standing, and I used to be on the opposite aspect of it.”

Ms. Littlefeather, who was not obtainable for an interview on Tuesday, advised the Academy that talking about these occasions in 2022 “felt like a giant cleanse.”

“It feels just like the sacred circle is finishing itself earlier than I am going on this life,” mentioned Ms. Littlefeather, who advised The Guardian in June 2021 that she had terminal breast most cancers.

The previous president of the Academy, David Rubin, wrote within the apology to Ms. Littlefeather that the abuse she confronted due to the speech was “unwarranted and unjustified.”

“For too lengthy the braveness you confirmed has been unacknowledged,” Mr. Rubin wrote. “For this, we provide each our deepest apologies and our honest admiration.”

Mr. Rubin’s letter might be learn subsequent month at a program at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, “An Night with Sacheen Littlefeather.”

The Academy described it as an occasion of “dialog, reflection, therapeutic and celebration.” Ms. Littlefeather mentioned in a press release that she was trying ahead to the Native American performers and audio system on the occasion, together with Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish singer, and Chicken Runningwater, the co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance, who’s Cheyenne and Mescalero Apache.

“It’s profoundly heartening to see how a lot has modified since I didn’t settle for the Academy Award 50 years in the past,” she mentioned. “I’m so happy with every one who will seem onstage.”

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