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Sacheen Littlefeather formally accepts apology from Oscars over 1973 speech

Claire Reid

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Sacheen Littlefeather formally accepts apology from Oscars over 1973 speech

Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo/Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Sacheen Littlefeather has accepted an apology from the Oscars for the hostile reception she was greeted with when collecting an award on behalf of Marlon Brando in 1973.

Littlefeather attended the 45 Academy Awards and became the first Native American woman to stand on stage at the ceremony. 

Actor Marlon Brando, who won the Best Actor award for his role in The Godfather, had boycotted the Oscars over their portrayal of Native Americans and was represented by Littlefeather instead.

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She told the audience: “He 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 re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.”

Sacheen Littlefeather famously stood in for Marlon Brando at the 1973 Oscars. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Sacheen Littlefeather famously stood in for Marlon Brando at the 1973 Oscars. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Her appearance was met with cheers from some and boos from others. In fact, actor John Wayne was reportedly so upset by Littlefeather’s speech that he had to be ‘restrained’ by security staff. 

She revealed in a recent interview with Variety: “I heard a disturbance from behind me as I was speaking up at the podium. I found out that he [Wayne] had been restrained by six security men from assaulting me while I was on that stage. That was the most violent moment that had ever taken place at the Academy Awards.”

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However, the activist said that she felt 'proud' as she walked off the stage: "I held my head high and was proud to be the first Indigenous woman in the history of the Academy Awards to make that political statement."

Sacheen Littlefeather in 1975. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Sacheen Littlefeather in 1975. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Fast-forward almost 50 years and the Academy Awards has issued an apology to Littlefeather and held a special event - titled An Evening With Sacheen Littlefeather - which was described as ‘very special program of conversation, reflection, healing and celebration’ where she formally accepted the apology. 

She said: “I am here accepting this apology. Not only for me alone, but as acknowledgement, knowing that it was not only for me but for all of our nations that also need to hear and deserve this apology tonight.

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“Now, I would like all the Indian people in this audience to stand. Look at our people, look at each other and be proud that we stand as survivors, all of us.

"Please, when I'm gone, always be reminded that whenever you stand for your truth, you will be keeping my voice and the voices of our nations and our people alive. I remain Sacheen Littlefeather. Thank you."

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Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV

Claire Reid
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