In 1973, Sacheen Littlefeather took to the stage at 45th Academy Awards. The actress and, since then, activist was dressed in a dress that showed her Native American ancestry.
His turn came after the announcement that Marlon Brando had won as best actor for ‘The Godfather’; however, she appeared on stage to explain that due to “the treatment of the Indo-Americans by the film industry and on television” the actor rejected the statuette.
Following Brando’s rejection of the statuette, Sacheen Littlefeather was booed, but also applauded by some, during the ceremony. The actress and activist for Native American rights became the first person to make a political statement at the Academy event.
This is what the then 26-year-old Sacheen said that night:
“People don’t realize what my experience was. They had absolutely no idea, none, what my experience was, what I went through,” Littlefeather told the Academy. He even revealed that actor John Wayne wanted to physically assault her because of her words.
Almost 50 years after that night, the Academy apologized with the actress of today 75 years.
“The abuse you have endured for your statements has been undeserved and unwarranted. The emotional burden you have had to bear and the toll it has taken on your career in our industry is irreparable,” reads the letter signed by Academy President David Rubin.
“For too long, the courage you displayed has gone unrecognized. For this, we offer our sincerest apologies and sincere admiration,” she added.