Sacheen Littlefeather, Indigenous actress who turned down Oscar, dies | Indigenous Rights News

Sacheen Littlefeather made Oscar history after a 1973 speech about the mistreatment of Native Americans in the movie industry.

Sacheen Littlefeather, an American civil rights activist who campaigned against the mistreatment of Native Americans in the film industry, has died at 75.

The news was announced on Sunday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which in August apologized to Littlefeather for the abuse she suffered when she took a stand in the 1970s against anti-racism. -indigenous to the American film industry.

Littlefeather, who is of Apache and Yaqui descent, made history as the first Native American to walk the stage at the Academy Awards – the first time the event was broadcast live worldwide. – and to use the occasion to make a political statement. .

Her death was announced on Twitter where she was quoted as saying, “When I’m gone, always remember that every time you stand up for your truth, you will keep my voice and the voices of our nations and people alive. .”

In 1973, Littlefeather did not accept the Best Actor award for Marlon Brando for his performance in the film The Godfather, but took the stage when his award was announced and gave an impassioned 60-second speech about the insulting portrayal. Native Americans in the film. Film Industry.

She also referred to the protests taking place that same year in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, amid a period of rising Native activism in the United States. The American Indian Movement occupied the site to protest the country’s legacy of anti-Indigenous violence and discrimination.

Sacheen Littlefeather appears at the Academy Awards to announce Marlon Brando’s refusal of his Oscar on March 27, 1973. This decision was in protest at Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. [File: AP Photo]

“This moment has caused her to be professionally boycotted, personally attacked and harassed and discriminated against for the past 50 years,” read an August 2022 statement from the Academy. The institution issued a public apology to Littlefeather for mistreatment and held a ceremony at his new museum in Los Angeles honoring him two weeks ago.

“I climbed up there, like a proud Indian with dignity, courage, grace and humility,” Littlefeather said at the museum event. “I knew I had to tell the truth. Some people may accept it. And some people may not.

She said Western star John Wayne should be stopped from physically attacking her as she left the stage after her famous speech.

Littlefeather, a member of the Screen Actors Guild, subsequently struggled to find work in Hollywood after casting directors were warned not to employ him. Asked by reporters before the ceremony how she felt about having to wait so long to hear the word “sorry”, Littlefeather was philosophical.

“It’s never too late to apologize,” she said. “It’s never too late to forgive.”

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