Academy Awards apologises to Sacheen Littlefeather for Oscars speech abuse

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The Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences (Ampas), the physique that oversees the Oscars, has issued a proper apology to Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American activist who appeared on the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony as a part of Marlon Brando’s refusal to simply accept his award.

Brando was awarded the perfect actor Oscar for his position as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, however didn’t attend as a protest in help of Native American rights, partially impressed by the continuing two-month occupation of the positioning of the 1890 Wounded Knee bloodbath by the American Indian Motion (AIM). As a substitute, Littlefeather declined to simply accept the statuette from presenters Roger Moore and Liv Ullmann, and made a brief speech, through which she mentioned that Brando’s stance was because of “the remedy of American Indians at present by the movie business … and on tv, in film reruns, and likewise with latest happenings at Wounded Knee.”

The speech was greeted with jeers from the viewers, and Littlefeather, then 26, later reported that actor John Wayne needed to be restrained by safety guards backstage from assaulting her, whereas different people backstage made offensive gestures.

Ampas has issued an announcement of reconciliation signed by its president David Rubin that described her look as “a strong assertion that continues to remind us of the need of respect and the significance of human dignity”.

“The abuse you endured due to this assertion was unwarranted and unjustified. The emotional burden you will have lived by and the fee to your personal profession in our business are irreparable. For too lengthy the braveness you confirmed has been unacknowledged. For this, we provide each our deepest apologies and our honest admiration.” The organisation has additionally deliberate a night of “dialog, reflection, therapeutic, and celebration”, together with an look by Littlefeather with Hen Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance.

Littlefeather, now 75, responded by saying: “Relating to the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very affected person folks – it’s solely been 50 years! We have to preserve our sense of humour about this always. It’s our technique of survival.”

Sacheen Littlefeather on the 1973 Oscars.

“I by no means thought I’d reside to see the day,” she added. This can be a dream come true. It’s profoundly heartening to see how a lot has modified since I didn’t settle for the Academy Award 50 years in the past.”

The Wounded Knee occupation began in February 1973, and was a extremely publicised protest by a 200-strong group of Oglala Lakota and members of AIM on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, on the identical web site the place some 290 Lakota had been killed by the US military in 1890. The Oscars passed off in March, and the occupation resulted in Could after settlement with federal authorities to disarm.

In 2021, Littlefeather advised the Guardian that she arrived on the ceremony just a few minutes earlier than Brando’s award was introduced, and had been given an eight-page speech by Brando to learn if he gained. Nevertheless, the present’s director Howard Koch advised her she might solely have 60 seconds and so she improvised a speech as an alternative. She additionally mentioned she promised Brando that she wouldn’t contact the statuette. “I went up there like a warrior girl. I went up there with the grace and the wonder and the braveness and the humility of my folks. I spoke from my coronary heart.”


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