Academy Awards apologises to actor/activist Sacheen Littlefeather for her mistreatment at 1973 Oscars
She declined the award (as instructed by Brando) and used the moment to give a speech about the mistreatment of the Native American community by the film industry
The Academy has come forward with an apology statement for the 1973 Oscars moment when Sacheen Littlefeather was booed off stage for talking about Native American rights at the coveted awards ceremony.
Almost 50 years ago, Sacheen Littlefeather took to stage at the Oscars ceremony on behalf of Marlon Brando when he was awarded the Best Actor award for his role in The Godfather. She declined the award (as instructed by Brando) and used the moment to give a speech about the mistreatment of the Native American community by the film industry. She was immediately booed by the audience, some even went on to throw racist slurs and mocking gestures at her. Reportedly, veteran actor John Wayne had to be restrained from storming the stage and attacking her. Now, the Academy has come forward with an apology statement for the incident.
Amid the chaos of the unruly audience, she continued with her speech, “Mr.Brando very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award, And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.
The Wounded Knee incident that she was referring to involved the protest conducted by the members of the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The activists protested the mistreatment of their community by the US government.
The apology statement released by the Academy reads, “The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified. The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”
Responding to the apology statement, the now 75-year-old Sacheen Littlefeather said, “I was stunned. I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this.” She continued, “Yes, there’s an apology that’s due. As my friends in the Native community said, it’s long overdue.”