These reports are supported by the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Fund for Indigenous Journalists: Reporting on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit and Transgender People (MMIWG2T).
Rhonda LeValdo reports from the Sacheen Littlefeather Academy apology event in September 2022:
Hollywood, CA- Actress Sacheen Littlefeather, who famously refused an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando in 1973, has passed away, her family announced in a press statement.
Her death comes just two weeks after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences publicly apologized to Littlefeather and officially acknowledged the mistreatment and misrepresentation of Native Americans by the film industry.
Littlefeather was boycotted by Hollywood, personally attacked, and harassed after she gave a 60-second speech at the 45th awards ceremony refusing Brando’s honor for his role in “The Godfather.”
The night in September in Hollywood was for reflection and healing. Littlefeather says she stood up for Native rights for all Native people.
“It was critical for the psyche of all our relations to bring awareness and interrupt the negative interpretation and representation of Native American people by the film, television and sports industry.”
The event drew more than 800 people. Some remember watching Littlefeather make history on TV while others have seen archived video.
Many say it was a monumental moment on television for Native people.
Anthony Morales is chief of the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians.
“What it took her to do 50 years ago kind of inspires me because I am, for the tribe, I’m the one that likes to go out and challenge developers and you know, always for our people, and everything I do is for our people. Not only for my own people, but for our all our ancestors.”
Chef Crystal Wahpepah provided food for a private reception.
“The apology means a lot like when it comes to especially me being a Native chef and her, where to me personally, I feel like it’s long overdue but it’s her way of a gift to all of us.”
Native creatives in Hollywood both older and younger generations say Littlefeather made an impact.
Actress Devery Jacobs of “Reservation Dogs.”
“Seeing Sacheen, it’s like Auntie Sacheen. She is like someone who has been on my television who I’d been watching clips of YouTube since I was a little girl and she’s even framed on my bathroom wall and so for her to stand up and stand with her community all across the theater it meant so much and it was just so hard to hold back tears throughout that entire thing tonight.”
Actor Zahn McClarnon of “Reservation Dogs” and “Dark Winds.”
“She was one of our first that got up and that was involved politically and made Native Americans recognized within the film business. She was one of the first along with Will Sampson, Chief Dan George, Jay Silverheels, Sacheen came along and I think opened up some doors for people. Made a lot of people realize what was going on especially in the early 70s, Wounded Knee and the American Indian Movement.”
A letter of apology was read at the event, which was sent to Littlefeather by the Academy in June.
At a media roundtable, Littlefeather said of the apology that she was shocked and very fortunate to still be alive to see it.
She added “it’s never too late for an apology” and “it’s never too late for forgiveness.”
Littlefeather died of cancer at age 75 on Sunday, October 2, 2022, in California.
FNX NOW “An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather /Academy Apology”:
Requiem Mass funeral for Sacheen Littlefeather
When: Friday, October 21, 2022 at 1pm PT
Where: St. Rita Church in Fairfax, CA or live stream
Dinner reception at 3pm PT at @ St. Rita’s Parish Hall, catered by Crystal Wahpepah.
In lieu of flowers, Sacheen requested donations be made to the American Indian Child Resource Center, 522 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610.
Condolences, stories, and photos can be sent via email to SacheenMemorial@gmail.com.