Indian civil rights activist Sachin Littlefeather has died at the age of 75

Indian civil rights activist Sachin Littlefeather has died at the age of 75


Sachin Littlefeather, the Native American civil rights activist best known for denying Marlon Brando a best actor Oscar nomination for The Godfather in 1973, has died at the age of 75, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and her family announced late on Sunday.

Her family said she had breast cancer.

In its tweet announcing her death, the Academy quoted her as saying, “When I’m gone, always remind me that every time you stand up for the truth, you will preserve my voice and the voices of our countries and our people. stay sachin littlefeather. Thank you.”

At the Academy Awards in October 1973, Littlefeather, dressed in a deerskin dress and moccasins, became the first Native American woman to take the Oscars stage.

In a 60-second speech, she said Brando couldn’t accept the award.

She was booed by some present. John Wayne, who was backstage, was reportedly furious.

In 1973, the Academy Awards were held during the Indian Movement’s two-month occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Her family said on Sunday that Littlefeather turned down the Oscar on behalf of Brando to “end the stereotypes about Indigenous people in film, television and sports”.

Sachin Littlefeather speaks at the award ceremony
Native American Sachin Littlefeather speaks at the 45th Academy Awards in October 1973, rejecting Marlon Brando’s Best Actor award.

Bettmann via Getty Images

“As a result, Sachin has been subjected to professional boycotts, personal harassment and attacks, and discrimination for almost 50 years,” the statement said.

In June, the Academy formally apologized for Hollywood’s treatment of her in a letter from then-Academy President David Rubin.

“The abuse you suffered because of this statement was unwarranted and unwarranted,” Rubin wrote. “The emotional toll you have endured and the cost to your own career in our industry is irreparable. For too long, your courage has gone unrecognized. In this regard, we offer our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

Littlefeather said in a statement that it was “great to see how much has changed since I didn’t accept the Academy Award 50 years ago.”

In September, what the family called a “heartfelt tribute” was held at the David Geffen Theater at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles, “to a full house.”

“Even though many people judged Sachin and treated her negatively, she forgave them, held no grudges and moved on with her life in a positive way, showing love and forgiveness to everyone,” the family said.

Littlefeather was a model and actress known for her roles in Billy Jack in 1974, Winterhawk the following year, Reel Injun in 2010 and Sacheen: Breaking The Silence in 2018, according to her family.

A memorial service for Littlefeather is scheduled for later this month at St. Rita’s Church in Fairfax, California.