Native American civil rights activist dies at 75


Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American civil rights activist known for turning down Marlon Brando’s Best Actor Oscar for ‘The Godfather’ in 1973, has died at the age of 75, the Academy of Arts and Sciences announced Sunday. film science and his family.

She died peacefully at her home in Marin County, Calif., surrounded by her loved ones, the academy said. She suffered from breast cancer, her family said.

In a tweet announcing her death, the academy quoted her as saying, “When I’m gone, always remember that every time you stand up for the truth, you will keep my voice and the voices of our nations and communities alive. our people. I remain Sacheen Littlefeather. Thank you.

At the October 1973 Academy Awards, Littlefeather, wearing a buckskin dress and moccasins, became the first Native American woman to take the stage at the Oscars.

In a strictly timed 60-second speech, she said Brando couldn’t accept the award.

His family said Sunday that Littlefeather turned down the Oscar on Brando’s behalf in an effort to “end stereotypes about Native people in the film, television and sports industries.”

“As a result, Sacheen has been professionally boycotted, personally harassed and attacked, and discriminated against for nearly 50 years,” the statement continued.

She was booed by some in the Oscar audience. John Wayne, who was backstage, was reportedly furious.

And in a 2021 interview with The GuardianLittlefeather said: “During my presentation, [Wayne] was coming towards me to force me off the stage, and he had to be restrained by six security guards to prevent him from doing so.”

She also told the Guardian that people imitated stereotypical battle cries and made offensive hand gestures when she came backstage.

The academy said on Sunday that “his presence on the Oscars stage, widely recognized as the Oscars’ first political speech, also drew attention to AIM [American Indian Movement] protests at Wounded Knee in South Dakota” at the time.

In June, the The Academy officially apologized for his treatment by Hollywood in a letter from then Academy President David Rubin.

“The abuse you suffered because of this statement was unwarranted and unwarranted,” Rubin wrote. “The emotional burden you have experienced and the cost of your own career in our industry is irreparable. For too long the courage you have shown has gone unrecognized. For this, we present to you both our most sincere apologies and our sincere admiration.”

Littlefeather said in a statement that it was “deeply encouraging to see how much everything has changed since I failed to accept the Oscar 50 years ago.”

In September, what the family described as a “heartfelt honour” took place at the David Geffen Theater at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles “to a sold-out audience.”

“Even though many people judged Sacheen and treated her negatively, she forgave them all, held no grudges and continued her life in a positive way, showing everyone love and forgiveness,” the family said.

According to the family, Littlefeather was a model and actress known for her roles in “Billy Jack” in 1974, “Winterhawk” the following year, “Reel Injun” in 2010 and “Sacheen: Breaking The Silence” in 2018.

A requiem mass for Littlefeather is scheduled for later this month at St. Rita’s Church in Fairfax, California.

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