In 1973, Marlon Brando won the Best Actor award for The Godfather. However, Brando did not want to accept the statue because of the misrepresentation of Indians in the American film industry. In his place, the then twenty-six-year-old actress Sachin Littlefeather appeared on stage.
She decided to devote the time reserved for the acceptance speech to the message she and Brando wanted to convey to the American people. The actor himself prepared an eight-page text for him, the organizers of the ceremony did not allow him to read it due to paucity of time. She could only speak for a minute, she reportedly improvised the entire speech in that time.
ridicule and false speculation
“The reason I stand here is because of the current treatment of American Indians in the film industry, on television, in film reruns, and also in connection with the incidents of injured knee,” the actress said. Thus he referred to the conflict between police officers and members of the Ogla tribe in a town in South Dakota, and their subsequent mass arrest.
Talking about the topic was not easy, he did not get the expected support from the audience. Two film industry colleagues jokingly kicked Littlefeather off the stage. Even behind the scenes, Shanti didn’t wait for Littlefeather. His speech angered actor John Wayne, who had to be pacified by security. According to Littlefeather, Wayne was very angry with her and Brando and wanted to drag the actress off the stage with his hands.
“I went there as a warrior. I went there with the grace, beauty, courage and humility of my people. I spoke from my heart,” she later remarked on her speech. His speech was watched by an audience of seventy-five million.
After the performance, some media reported that the actress was not a real Indian, but she agreed to the speech on the grounds that it might help her acting career. According to Littlefeather, these speculations are false, as reported by the BBC.
apologies after fifty years
Fifty years later, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a letter of apology. Its author is David Rubin, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. According to Rubin, the reason for the apology was the unjustified and unreasonable insults suffered by the artist.
“The speech at the 45th Oscars reminds us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity,” he said.
The actress admitted that she did not expect such a gesture. In his reply, he insisted that it was several years late. “We Indians are very patient people – it’s only fifty years!” he commented.
The Film Museum at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is preparing an event for this September, where Littlefeathers will talk about his 1973 performance and the future of Native American cinema.