Sacheen LittlefeatherThe Native American activist who rejected Marlon Brando’s Oscar for “The Godfather” on his behalf at the 1973 Academy Awards died Sunday at the age of 75, the Motion Pictures Academy said. She was suffering from breast cancer.
In June, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apologized to Little Feather for her treatment at the Oscars that night. Littlefeather attended a personal presentation of the apology at the Academy Museum on September 17.
At the Academy Awards, she was given just 60 seconds to read her speech on Native American rights, and then was escorted off stage to boos from the audience.
“It is with great regret that he cannot accept this very generous award,” Littlefeather told the Oscars audience in Cairo. “And the reasons for this are the film industry’s treatment of American Indians today … and on television in reruns of films, as well as with the recent events at Wounded Knee.”
She was allowed to read her full speech at a later press conference, and it was Printed in the New York Times. Raquel Welch, Clint Eastwood and Oscar host Michael Caine were among those who criticized her on camera for disrupting the party.
Littlefeather, born Mary Louise Cruz in Salinas, California, became interested in Native American issues in college and participated in the 1970 occupation of Alcatraz Island, adopting her name during that time.
After college, she joined the SAG and is said to have met Brando, who was interested in Native American issues, through Francis Ford Coppola who lived as Littlefeather, in San Francisco.
in recent interviewLittlefeather . said diverse What was it like attending the Oscars on behalf of Brando.
“It was my first time at the Oscars. I crossed the first hurdle, and promised Marlon Brando that I wouldn’t touch that Oscar. But, when I came out of that stage, I did it in the ways of courage, respect, dignity, and honesty. I did it in the ways of my grandparents and the ways of Aboriginal women. .
“I met the stereotypical tomahawk chop, the individuals who called me, and I ignored them all. I continued walking straight ahead with two armed guards by my side, my head held high and I was proud to be the first Aboriginal woman in Academy Awards history to make such a political statement.
At the time in 1973, there was a media blackout on Wounded Knee and against the American Indian movement it was occupying. Marlon called them in advance and asked them to watch the Oscars, which they did. As they saw me, on stage, rejecting the Academy Award for stereotypes in the film industry, and mentioning Wounded Knee in South Dakota, it would break the media boycott.”
Littlefeather also recently reflects on death, she says diverse“When we die, we know that our ancestors come to give. We know we are going into this spirit world from whence we came. We take this as a warrior with pride rather than defeat, and we look forward to joining our ancestors who will be with us at our last breath and will welcome us into this world at The other side and they celebrate us, us.”
A documentary about her life and activity, “Sacheen Breaking the Silence,” Released in 2021.
Although she has played some small roles in films including The Trial of Billy Jack, Littlefeather said she was blacklisted in Hollywood after the Oscars, and returned to San Francisco to continue her activism and work in theater and health care.