Nearly 50 years after being booed for refusing a Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, in protest of Hollywood’s treatment of indigenous people, Sacheen Littlefeather was honored on September 17 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
During a moving ceremony in Los Angeles punctuated with typical Native American dances and songs, the Academy issued a public apology to Littlefeather, once celebrated by activists but ostracized by film professionals.
Littlefeather, who is both Apache and Yaqui, was booed at the ceremony. 197 Academy Awards3, broadcast live worldwide for the first time, explaining why Brando, whom he represented, turned down an Oscar for best actor for The Godfather due to “treatment of American Indians by the motion picture industry”.
For too long the courage he showed has gone unrecognized. We offer you our deepest apologies and sincere admiration,
On Saturday, before a large audience at the Oscar museum, the actress said that on that occasion she took the stage “as a proud indigenous woman, with dignity, with courage, with grace and with humility.”
“I knew I had to tell the truth. Some people could accept it. Some people couldn’t,” he said. He also said that then it was necessary to prevent the star of the westerns John Wayne physically assaulted her as she was leaving the stage. Even though she was a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild, the union of film professionals, the actress had difficulties finding a job in Hollywood, since the directors of casting they were pressured to leave her out of the filming.
Former Academy president David Rubin, who apologized to her in June, spoke Saturday of the “emotional toll” Littlefeather had to bear and the resulting “cost to (her) own career.”
“For too long the courage he showed has gone unrecognized. We offer him our deepest apologies and sincere admiration,” he said.
This act of reparation comes as the American film industry grapples with what many describe as a culture of sexism, racism and impunity.
“Academy and our industry are at a tipping point,” Rubin said. The Oscars museum, which opened in September 2021, has vowed to address the institution’s “troubled history,” including racism. An exhibition deals with the harassment suffered by Littlefeather.
The museum has also hosted events about women who have achieved historic milestones at the Academy Awards, such as a talk with Buffy Sainte-Marie, the first Native American to win an Oscar for best original song, in 1983.
The Academy also took action in the face of accusations of lack of racial diversity. In 2019, the star of the last of the mohicans, Wes Studi became the first Native American actor to receive an Oscar, being awarded the honorary Academy Award in recognition of his career. “It’s never too late for an apology,” Littlefeather told reporters on Saturday. “It’s never too late for forgiveness.”
AFP. THE ANGELS