For her part, Sacheen Littlefeather accepted the Academy’s formal apologies for the negative reaction she got when she represented Marlon Brando as a nominee for the 45th Academy Awards in 1973.
An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather was presented at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles on Saturday to celebrate the actress and activist. At the event, Littlefeather, 75, spoke with producer and Indigenous Alliance co-chair Bird Runningwater.
She remarked, “I am here receiving this apology,” in response to a letter of contrition written by then-Academy president David Rubin in June. It wasn’t only for me to hear tonight; I believe that all of our nations could use and deserve an apology.
She then urged the audience’s Indian members to rise to their feet: Respect our people, honor each other, and take pride in the fact that we are here today as survivors.
She said, “Please, always remember after I’m gone, that anytime you stand for your truth, you will be preserving my words and the voices of our nations and our people alive. So long as you call me Sacheen Littlefeather, that’s what I’ll be. I appreciate it.
During Marlon Brando’s acceptance speech for the best actor Oscar for his role in The Godfather in 1973, Littlefeather spoke on his behalf to condemn the film industry’s abuse of Native Americans.
The protest was met with a range of responses from the crowd, with some booing audible to those watching at home. During her address, she said John Wayne tried to attack the stage and had to be held backstage. It’s been three decades, but Littlefeather can still picture the crowd’s faces in her mind. Six men had to hold back John Wayne backstage from going to get me and pull me off the stage.
Littlefeather recalled this incident in an interview with Variety released on Tuesday, saying, “As I was speaking at the stage, I heard a disturbance from behind me.” While I was performing on stage, I later learned that six security guards had restrained Wayne to prevent him from attacking me.
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