Native American activist Sachin Littlefeather, who cemented her place in history when she rejected actor Marlon Brando’s Oscar at the 1973 Academy Awards, has died at the age of 75.
According to her caregiver, Littlefeather died around noon surrounded by loved ones at her home in Novato, California. She has been battling breast c*ncer since at least 2018, and in recent years the disease has metastasized. New York Post reported.
Her d*ath comes just two weeks after she was honored at a gala hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences where she spoke of her imminent d*ath.
“I will soon cross over to the spirit world, and you know, I am not afraid to die,” she said at the event. “Because we come from we/us/our society. We are not from the society I / I / myself. And we learn to give from an early age. When we are honored, we give.”
The academy, which announced her d*ath Sunday night, formally apologized to Littlefeather in June for its treatment of her after the 1973 Oscars.
Littlefeather, who was 26 at the time, attended the awards ceremony in place of Brando, who decided to boycott the awards in protest of Hollywood’s portrayal and treatment of Native Americans, and in recognition of the American Indian Movement’s ongoing occupation of Wounded Knee in North Dakota.
The activist and the actress herself took the stage and refused the Oscar awarded to Brando. Godfather and gave a speech condemning the treatment of Native Americans at his request.
Littlefeather, dressed in traditional Apache clothing, told the star-studded audience at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and 86 million viewers watching from home that Brando would not accept the award.
“It is very unfortunate that he cannot accept this very generous award, and the reason for this is the way the film industry and television are treating American Indians in film reruns today, as well as the recent events at Wounded Knee,” Littlefeather said, speaking to mixed feelings. applause and cheers.
Brando handed her an eight-page speech he had written, but she was unable to read it in full due to lack of time for the awards ceremony. The newspaper “New York Times published the full speech three days later.
Upon its introduction, Littlefeather faced strong backlash from the media and the conservative Hollywood elite. She later said that the protest killed her acting career as, according to her, her guild membership was revoked and she was effectively blacklisted from the industry.
“I was blacklisted — or you could say redlisted,” Littlefeather said in a 2018 documentary about her life. “Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett and others didn’t want me on their show. … The doors were tightly closed, never to be opened again.”
Nearly 50 years later, in June of this year, she finally received an apology from the Academy.
“The abuse you received because of this statement was unfounded and unjustified,” then-AMPAS President David Rubin wrote in a June 18 letter to Littlefeather. “The emotional burden you endured and the cost of your career in our industry is irreparable.”
Rubin both apologized and praised the activist.
“For too long the courage you have shown has gone unnoticed,” he said. “For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”
Littlefeather said the Academy’s apology shocked her.
“I was stunned. I never thought I’d live to see the day I hear this, experience this,” Littlepur said. Hollywood Reporter in August. “When I was on the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”
Last month, the Academy hosted an evening of reflection with Littlefeather as a guest of honor at the Academy Museum.
“I am here accepting this apology not only for myself alone, but also as a recognition, knowing that it was not only for me, but for all our peoples, who also need to hear and deserve this apology tonight,” she said on ceremonies. “Look at our people. Look at each other and be proud that we’re still alive, all of us.”
Littlefeather was born Marie Louise Cruz in Salinas, California on November 14, 1946. Her father was Apache and Yaqui, and her mother was white. She was raised primarily by her maternal grandparents and began connecting with her indigenous roots while studying at California State University, where she found other activists who renamed her.
She was involved in the Natives’ attempt to reclaim Alcatraz Island in 1969 and served as president of the National Committee for the Positive Image of Native Americans while working on her acting career.
Littlefeather later left Hollywood for a career in holistic health, focusing on traditional indigenous medicine.
She also co-founded the nonprofit American Indian National Registry for the Performing Arts in the 1980s and continued to advocate for Native American representation in Hollywood throughout her life.
Two weeks ago at an event at the Academy Museum, Littlefeather asked others to stand up for their truth in her memory.
“Please, when I leave, always be reminded that whenever you stand up for your truth, you will support my voice and the voices of our nations and our people,” she said.
This article originally appeared on New York Post and has been reproduced with permission
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