The Native American actress and activist reflects on the 1973 Oscars protest

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Half a century ago, actor and activist Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage in a traditional buckskin dress at the Academy Awards to decline an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, launching into a speech about the mistreatment of Native Americans by the film industry.

She was booed from the stage of the 1973 ceremony after 60 seconds for her remarks, which drew attention to an Indigenous protest in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. She was then professionally boycotted by the film industry for decades. On Saturday night, Littlefeather, now 75, was greeted with thunderous applause as she took the stage to reflect on her protest at an event in her honor at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.

“Well, I made it. It took 50 years,” she said. The event, “An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather”, featured live Native American performances and was streamed on the museum’s YouTube page.

His friend Brando boycotted the 45th Academy Awards because of stereotypes about Native Americans in movies and TV. The Best Actor winner for portraying Vito Corleone in ‘The Godfather’ has asked Littlefeather to attend in his place. In addition to boos, Littlefeather recalled on Saturday, people made tomahawk gestures and mocked “Indian” whoops. “Big John Wayne was ready to attack me. He had to be restrained by six security guards,” she said.

Saturday’s program included the reading of a letter of apology to Littlefeather for his treatment by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “As you stood on the Oscars stage in 1973 not to accept the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, in recognition of the misrepresentation and mistreatment of Native Americans by the motion picture industry, you made a statement power that continues to remind us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity,” the letter reads.

She replied, “I accept this apology not just for myself alone, but an acknowledgment not just for me, but for our entire (Native American) nation. Our nation needs to hear this apology.”

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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