NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly 50 years after Sacheen Littlefeather stood on the Academy Awards stage on behalf of Marlon Brando to speak about the depiction of Native Americans in Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has apologized to her for the abuse she endured.
On Monday, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures says that it will host Littlefeather, now 75, for an evening of “conversation, healing, and celebration” on Sept. 17.
In making the announcement, the Academy Museum shared a letter sent June 18 to Littlefeather by David Rubin, academy president, about the iconic Oscar moment.
Rubin wrote: “For too long, the courage you showed has been unacknowledged."
Dressed in a buckskin dress and moccasins, Littlefeather became the first Native American woman when she took the stage at the 1973 Academy to accept Brando's Oscar when he won for best actor for “The Godfather."
In a 60-second speech, Littlefeather told the audience that Brando could not accept the award due to “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry."
Some booed her in the audience, and reportedly John Wayne, who was backstage during her speech, was furious.
Since then, she was ridiculed, mocked, discriminated against, and personally attacked for her brief Academy Awards appearance.
On Monday, Littlefeather said in a statement that it was “profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago.”
“Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people — it’s only been 50 years!” said Littlefeather in a statement. “We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our method of survival.”