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50 Years Later

The U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has (finally) made a formal apology to Sacheen Littlefeather.

A Native American activist, Littlefeather was part of Marlon Brando’s refusal of his 1973 Oscar for The Godfather. Brando did not attend the awards in a show of support for Native American rights and their depiction in Hollywood films. Instead, when the presenters announced Brando had won, Littlefeather walked out and made a speech. The speech Brando gave her was eight pages long, so (exercising her Native American rights) she improvised.

“I went up there like a warrior woman,” Littlefeather, now 75, said. “I went up there with the grace and the beauty and the courage and the humility of my people. I spoke from my heart.

Regarding the Academy’s apology to me,” Littlefeather continued, “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.”

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