The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPS), the body that oversees the Academy Awards, has issued an official apology to Sachin Littlefeather, a Native American activist who appeared at the 1973 Academy Awards as part of Marlon Brando’s refusal to accept his award. .
Brando won a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, but he did not turn up as a protest in support of Native American rights, inspired in part by the two-month-long occupation of the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre by the American Indian Movement (AIM). Instead, Littlefeather refused to accept the statuette from presenters Roger Moore and Liv Ullmann, and gave a short speech in which she said Brando’s position was due to “the film industry’s treatment of American Indians today… and on television, in film re-shows, as well as in recent events in Wounded Knee”.
The speech was met with ridicule from the audience, and Littlefeather, who was then 26 years old, mentioned This actor John Wayne had to be restrained by security guards behind the scenes from assaulting her, while other personnel backstage made offensive gestures.
Ampas issued a statement of reconciliation Signed by its former president, David Rubin, who described her appearance as “a powerful statement that continues to remind us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity”.
“The offense I was subjected to because of this statement was unwarranted and unwarranted. The emotional burden you have experienced and the cost of your career in our industry cannot be compensated for. For too long, the courage you demonstrated has not been recognized. For this, we offer our deepest apologies and sincere admiration.” The organization has also planned an evening of “conversation, meditation, healing, and celebration,” including an appearance by Littlefeather with Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance.
Littlefeather, now 75, responded by saying, “As for the academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient – it’s only been 50 years! We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our way of survival.”
“I never thought I’d live to see the day,” she added. This is a dream come true. It is very encouraging to see how much has changed since I did not accept an Academy Award 50 years ago.”
Occupying the injured knee Started in February 1973, it was a widely publicized protest by a 200-strong group of Oglala Lakota and members of the AIM in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, at the same location where the US Army killed about 290 Lakota in 1890. The Oscars ceremony in March The occupation ended in May after an agreement with the federal authorities to disarm.
In 2021, Littlefeather told the Guardian That she arrived at the ceremony just a few minutes before Brando’s award was announced, and delivered an eight-page letter by Brando to read if he won. However, program director Howard Koch told her she only had 60 seconds, so she improvised a speech instead. She also said that she promised Brando that she would not touch the statuette. “I went up there like a warrior woman. I went up there with the goodness and beauty and courage and humility of my people. I spoke from my heart.”
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