Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather over Marlon Brando Oscar

Littlefeather was asked by Best Actor winner Brando in 1973 to turn down the award because of the treatment of Native Americans.

Sacheen Littlefeather made history in 1973 when she turned down the Best Actor Oscar on behalf of The Godfather winner Marlon Brando. Nearly 50 years later, Indigenous activist Littlefeather is cementing her record for representing Hollywood as well: she is now one of the few people in history to ever receive a formal apology from the Academy.

“When you walked the Oscars stage in 1973 not to accept the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, you made a powerful statement in recognition of the film industry’s misrepresentation and mistreatment of Native Americans that continues to remind us of the need.” of respect and the importance of human dignity,” reads a letter signed by former academy president David Rubin, released on March 18.

Littlefeather will also be the guest of honor at “An Evening of Native American Healing and Celebration” being hosted by the Academy Museum in Los Angeles on September 17th.

The letter continues: “The abuse you suffered because of that statement was unjustified and unjustified. The emotional drain you have endured and the cost of your own career in our industry is beyond repair. For too long the courage you have shown has not been recognised. For this we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

The abuse, aimed at a then 26-year-old Littlefeather, included booing and heckling onstage at the Oscars, as well as racial slurs, threats of arrest (including by show producer Howard Koch if she exceeded the 60-second time limit). and physical violence.

At the time, Littlefeather paraphrased Brando’s eight pages of prepared remarks due to time constraints. “[Brando] It is with great regret that I cannot accept this very generous award,” said Littlefeather on stage in 1973. “And the reasons for that are the treatment of American Indians by the film industry today – sorry – and on television in reruns and also in the recent events of Wounded Knee.”

Littlefeather’s reference to the protest at Wounded Knee also led in part to her being professionally boycotted, personally attacked and harassed and discriminated against over the past 50 years, the academy said in a statement.

“As for 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’s our method of survival,” Littlefeather said in the Academy’s announcement. “I never thought I would live to see the day this program took place, with such wonderful Native American cast and Bird Runningwater, a television and film producer who has also guided the Sundance Institute’s twenty-year commitment to Indigenous filmmakers through the labs of the Institute and Sundance Film Festival. 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 each and every one who will be on stage.”

Per Littlefeather, western genre star John Wayne had to be physically prevented from storming the stage, presumably to attack her. She also said that the federal government had threatened to shut down any productions she was involved in that would be broadcast nationally.

The Academy’s full apology statement will be read during the event at the Academy Museum in honor of Littlefeather, who will speak with producer Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache/NM), co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance. Runningwater first approached Littlefeather, along with Academy Inclusion Advisory Committee member Heather Rae, to record an episode for the Academy Museum Podcast and to contribute to the visual history for the Academy’s Oral History Projects, which will be released in September .

An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather is free to the public via online reservations and also includes land recognitions from Virginia Carmelo (Tongva/S.Calif.) and performances by traditional singer and singer Calina Lawrence (Suquamish/Wash.), the San Manuel Bird Singers (San Manuel, Calif.), Michael Bellanger (Ojibiway, Minnesota and Kickapoo, Okla.) and the All Nation Singers and Dancers, and Steve Bohay (Kiowa, Okla.) and the Sooner Nation Singers and Dancers as notes from Rubin and the new Academy -President Janet Yang, Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Assembly Member James Ramos (Serrano/Cahuilla/Sun. Calif.). Academy Museum Director and President Jacqueline Stewart and Earl Neconie (Kiowa/Okla.) will moderate the evening.

As for the on-screen depiction of Native Americans, Littlefeather told THR, “Finally someone is breaking down the doors. And I’m so happy that’s happening — even though I’m not swearing like I did on ‘Reservation Dogs’.”

Read the Academy’s full reconciliation statement to Sacheen Littlefeather below:

June 18, 2022

dear things Littlefeather,

Today I am writing you a long-awaited letter on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, humbly thanking you for your experience at the 45th Annual Academy Awards.

When you took to the Oscars stage not to accept the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando in 1973, you made a powerful statement in acknowledgment of the film industry’s misrepresentation and mistreatment of Native Americans that never ceases to remind us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity.

The abuse you suffered as a result of that statement was unjustified and unjustified. The emotional drain you have endured and the cost of your own career in our industry is beyond repair. For too long the courage you have shown has not been recognised. For this we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.

We cannot achieve the Academy’s mission of “stimulating imagination and connecting the world through cinema” without a commitment to enabling the widest possible representation and inclusion that reflects our diverse world population.

Today, almost 50 years later, and under the leadership of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance, we are firmly committed to ensuring that Indigenous voices – the original storytellers – are visible, respected contributors to the global film community. We are committed to fostering a more inclusive, respectful industry that uses a balance between arts and activism to be a force for progress.

We hope you receive this letter in a spirit of reconciliation and in recognition of your vital role in our journey as an organization. They are forever respectfully rooted in our history.

With kind regards,

David Rubin
President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QUAcU0I4yU

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/08/academy-apologizes-sacheen-littlefeather-marlon-brando-oscar-1234751997/ Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather over Marlon Brando Oscar

Lindsay Lowe

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