Sacheen Littlefeather Receives an Apology from The Academy After 50 Years

August 16, 2022

By: Mariah Fritz

In 1973, the Native American activist and actor Sacheen Littlefeather went on stage after Marlon Brando refused an Oscar for his role in “The Godfather”. She made a powerful speech about the depictions of Native Americans in the entertainment industry and was simultaneously applauded and booed.

Recently in an interview with A.frame, Littlefeather claimed to have been physically assaulted by John Wayne as she was taken off stage. Brando denied his Oscar in support of Native American rights and the American Indian Movement (AIM). 

According to NBC News, David Rubin, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, issued an apology in June, writing “As you stood on the Oscars stage in 1973 to not accept the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, in recognition of the misrepresentation and mistreatment of Native American people by the film industry, you made a powerful statement that continues to remind us of the necessity of respect and the importance of human dignity…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.”

Littlefeather had a somewhat humorous response to her much overdue apology, saying “Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people — it’s only been 50 years! We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our method of survival…I never thought I’d live to see the day for this program to take place, featuring such wonderful Native performers and Bird Runningwater…This is a dream come true. It is profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago.”

The academy also announced, “An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather” which will entail “a conversation with Littlefeather about reflection, healing and celebration” that will air on Sept. 17.