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Sacheen Littlefeather, who declined Marlon Brando’s Oscar, dies at 75 – Nationwide


Sacheen Littlefeather, the actor and activist who declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Academy Award for The Godfather on his behalf in an indelible protest of Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Individuals, has died. She was 75.

Littlefeather’s niece, Calina Lawrence, confirmed that she died peacefully Sunday, surrounded by family members at her Marin County, California, residence. The trigger was breast most cancers, the household mentioned.

Littlefeather’s look on the 1973 Oscars would develop into one of many award present’s most well-known moments. Clad in buckskin gown and moccasins, Littlefeather took the stage when presenter Roger Moore learn Brando’s identify because the winner for greatest actor.

Talking to the viewers, Littlefeather cited Native American stereotypes in movie and the then-ongoing weekslong protest at Wounded Knee in South Dakota as the rationale for Brando’s absence. She mentioned Brando had written “a really lengthy speech” however she was restricted by time to transient remarks. Producer Howard Koch had allegedly warned Littlefeather, then 26, that he would have her arrested if she spoke for greater than a minute.

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“I encourage right now that I’ve not intruded upon this night and that we are going to sooner or later, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity,” Littlefeather mentioned, turning into the primary Native American lady to seem onstage on the Oscars.

Though transient, simple and courteous, Littlefeather’s look was contentious, receiving a mixture of applause and boos from the viewers. Within the years after, Littlefeather endured appreciable scorn and abuse for her speech, she mentioned.

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“I spoke from my coronary heart,” she advised The Related Press days after the Oscars. “These phrases have been written in blood, maybe my very own blood. I felt about like Christ carrying the load of the cross on his shoulders.”

Solely just lately did the Academy of Movement Footage Arts and Sciences formally tackle the remedy Littlefeather acquired following her look. In August, the movie academy apologized to Littlefeather. Two weeks in the past, it held a night of “dialog, therapeutic and celebration” in her honor.

“The abuse you endured due to this assertion was unwarranted and unjustified,” the academy’s president, David Rubin, wrote in a letter to Littlefeather. “The emotional burden you will have lived by way of and the associated fee to your personal profession in our trade are irreparable. For too lengthy the braveness you confirmed has been unacknowledged. For this, we provide each our deepest apologies and our honest admiration.”

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Littlefeather responded in a press release: “We Indians are very affected person individuals — it’s solely been 50 years!”


FILE – Activist and actress Sacheen Littlefeather takes half in a panel dialogue on the PBS particular “Reel Injun” on the PBS Tv Critics Affiliation summer season press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American activist who declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Academy Award for “The Godfather” on his behalf in an indelible protest of how Native Individuals had been portrayed on display screen, died Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, at her residence in Marin County, Calif. She was 75.


File / The Related Press

“We have to hold our humorousness about this always,” she added. “It’s our technique of survival.”

Littlefeather was born Marie Cruz on Nov. 14, 1946, in Salinas, California. Her father was from the White Mountain Apache and Yaqui tribes and her mom was white. Each have been saddle makers. They separated when Littlefeather was 4, after which she was raised largely by her grandparents. She took the identify Sacheen Littlefeather after highschool. Sacheen, she mentioned, was what her father had known as her; the surname got here from a feather she usually wore in her hair.

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Littlefeather’s entry into performing corresponded together with her activism. She was a part of the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969, she mentioned, and commenced performing with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater within the early ’70s.

Littlefeather met Brando by way of her neighbor, Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola. She had identified Brando for a few yr earlier than he known as her the evening earlier than the 1973 ceremony, invited her to his home and requested her to attend in his place.


Sacheen Littlefeather on stage at AMPAS Presents An Night with Sacheen Littlefeather at Academy Museum of Movement Footage on September 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.


Frazer Harrison / Getty Pictures

Political speeches on the Oscars have been then nonetheless a rarity, and a few in attendance noticed the transient tackle as a break in decorum — and one which raised a topic not everybody was keen to contemplate.

“I don’t know if I ought to current this award on behalf of all of the cowboys shot in all of the John Ford Westerns over time,” Clint Eastwood mentioned later within the night, whereas presenting the award for greatest image. Presenting greatest actress, presenter Raquel Welch cracked: “I hope they haven’t received a trigger.”

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“I went up there considering I may make a distinction,” Littlefeather advised Folks journal in 1990. “I used to be very naive. I advised individuals about oppression. They mentioned, ‘You’re ruining our night.’”

© 2022 The Canadian Press



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