Sacheen Littlefeather ~ Apache/Yaqui/Pueblo

Published on December 13, 2013 by Amy

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Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather

Sacheen Littlefeather (born Marie Louise Cruz, November 14, 1946) is an American Indian civil rights activist. She is best known for presenting a speech on behalf of actor Marlon Brando, for his performance in The Godfather, when he boycotted the 45th Academy Awards ceremony on March 27, 1973, in protest of the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry. She wore an Apache dress on the occasion.

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Littlefeather was born in Salinas, California. Her ancestry is Apache, Yaqui, Pueblo on her father’s side and her mother is of French, German, and Dutch descent. On her official website, she states her father was from the White Mountain Apache and Yaqui tribes from Arizona and that “Cruz” is her father’s recognized tribe name.

Activism

A member of Indians of All Tribes, Littlefeather had participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island by American Indians’ rights activists in 1969.

Academy Awards controversy

Marlon Brando became involved with the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the early 1970s. In 1973, he decided to make a statement about the Wounded Knee incident and contacted AIM about providing a person to accept the Oscar for him. Dennis Banks and Russell Means picked Sacheen Littlefeather.

She represented Brando and his boycott of the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972), as a way to protest the ongoing siege at Wounded Knee and Hollywood’s and television’s misrepresentation of American Indians. Brando had written a 15-page speech for Littlefeather to give at the ceremony, but when the producer met her backstage he threatened to physically remove her or have her arrested if she spoke on stage for more than 60 seconds. Her on-stage comments were therefore improvised. She then went backstage and read the entire speech to the press. In his autobiography My Word Is My Bond, Roger Moore (who presented the award) claims he took the Oscar home with him and kept it in his possession until it was collected by an armed guard sent by the Academy.

The incident provoked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rule out future proxy acceptance of the Academy Awards.

Source: wikipedia

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