Sacheen Littlefeather responds to Academy apology that came 50 years after she refused an Oscar on Marlon Brando's behalf: 'We Indians are very patient people'
- Sacheen Littlefeather responded to an apology from the Academy nearly 50 years after she refused an Oscar on Marlon Brando's behalf.
- "We Indians are very patient people—it's only been 50 years!" Littlefeather said Monday.
Sacheen Littlefeather — the Native American woman who refused an Oscar on actor Marlon Brando's behalf in 1973 — responded to an apology from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences nearly 50 years after the organization cut her speech short.
"Regarding the Academy's apology to me, we Indians are very patient people—it's only been 50 years!" Littlefeather said in a statement. "We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It's our method of survival."
She continued: "I never thought I'd live to see the day for this program to take place, featuring such wonderful Native performers. ... This is a dream come true. It is profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago. I am so proud of each and every person who will appear on stage."
Littlefeather first received the letter — penned by David Rubin, former President of the Academy — in June, but the Academy made it public on Monday.
Rubin wrote that the letter was "a long time coming."
In 1973, Littlefeather was given only 60 seconds for her non-acceptance speech of Brando's Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Vito Corleone in "The Godfather," forcing her to quickly improvise rather than read the actor's long-winded remarks.
"[Brando] very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award," Littlefeather said in her speech.
"And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee," she said while being met with boos in the audience.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Littlefeather said John Wayne had to be restrained from running on stage to attack her because of her speech and that she endured abuse because of the speech for years.
"The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified," the apology from the Academy said. "The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged."
"For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration," the statement added.
Along with the apology, the Academy announced "An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather" event and invited the now-75-year-old to be a guest of honor to the Academy Museum.
The event will feature "a very special program of conversation, reflection, healing, and celebration with Sacheen Littlefeather (Apache/Yaqui/AZ) on September 17, 2022," the Academy said.
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