Sacheen Littlefeather: Oscars apology and actress response

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Almost 50 years after actress Dingeen Littlefeather was abused for speaking on stage Academy Awards Stage, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences apologized to her.

The actress, who is also a Native American civil rights activist, spoke on behalf of Marlon Brando about the portrayal of Native Americans in Hollywood movies at the awards in 1973 when the incident happened.

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The 1973 Academy Awards took place during the American Indian Movement’s two-month occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota, and the speech was intended to highlight those events.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures announced Monday, August 15, that it will welcome Littlefeather, now 75, on Saturday, September 17 for an evening of conversation, healing and celebration.

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So what happened during the 1973 Academy Awards, what did the Academy say about Littlefeather and how did they react?

Here’s everything you need to know.

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Native American civil rights activist and actress Sacheen Littlefeather has received an apology from the Academy after she was abused during the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

What happened during the 1973 Oscars?

During the 1973 Academy Awards on March 27, Marlon Brando won Best Actor for The Godfather.

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As Brando’s victory was announced, Littlefeather took the stage wearing a suede dress and moccasins.

She was the first Native American woman ever to do so at the Academy Awards.

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In a 60-second speech, she said Brando declined the award because of “the film industry’s treatment of American Indians today.”

Some in the audience booed her as she spoke, although there was some supportive noise as well.

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What happened between Sacheen Littlefeather and actor John Wayne?

Actor John Wayne, who was backstage at the time, was reportedly furious with Littlefeather for her speech.

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In many of his films he starred as a cowboy at odds with indigenous characters.

Littlefeather herself has said he particularly offended her speech.

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she said The guard in 2021: “During my presentation, he approached me to force me off the stage and he had to be restrained by six security guards to stop him.”

What happened after the 1973 Oscars?

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In the 49 years since the incident, Littlefeather said she has been ridiculed, discriminated against and personally attacked for her brief appearance at the Academy Awards.

What did the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences say about this?

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The Academy Museum shared a letter that David Rubin, President of the Academy, sent to Littlefeather on Saturday, June 18, about her speech.

Rubin called Littlefeather’s speech “a powerful statement that continues to remind us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity.”

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He said: “The abuse you suffered because of that statement was unjustified and unjustified.

“The emotional toll you have endured and the cost of your own career in our industry is beyond repair.

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“For too long the courage you have shown has not been recognised. For this we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

What did Sacheen Littlefeather reply to that?

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Littlefeather has expressed her delight that her mistreatment has been recognized nearly five decades after the abuse.

She released a statement to express her joy.

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She said: “This is a dream come true. It’s deeply encouraging to see how much has changed since I didn’t accept the Oscar 50 years ago.

“I’m so proud of every single person that will appear on stage.”

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She added: “Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people – it’s only been 50 years.

“We always have to keep our sense of humor. It is our method of survival.”

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Who is Sacheen Littlefeather?

Sacheen Littlefeather, whose full name is Marie Louise Cruz, is an American actress, model and Native American civil rights activist.

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Littlefeather was born on November 14, 1946 to a Native American father and a European-American mother making her age 75 today.

Littlefeather acted in the films The Laughing Policeman (1973), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974), and Johnny Firecloud (1975).

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She has previously stated that after Brando’s Oscar rejection, she felt blacklisted by the entertainment industry.

After his appearance in Shoot the Sun Down in 1978, Littlefeather did not appear in any screen projects.

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