The Chicago Journal

Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather passes away not long after finally receiving an apology from the Academy Awards

On Monday morning, the world lost another treasure when Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American actress and activist, died aged 75.

The news was revealed on Monday when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shared a message on Twitter.

The announcement

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts released a photo of the Apache and Yaqui actress on Monday, writing:

“Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American civil rights activist who famously declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Best Actor Academy Award, has died at the age of 75.”

Littlefeather’s cause of death wasn’t announced immediately, but in January 2021 she shared via Facebook that she had metastatic breast cancer.

The actress and activist’s death came weeks after she finally received the long-awaited Academy Awards apology.

The 1973 Oscars

Almost half a century ago, Marlon Brando boycotted the ceremony in protest against Hollywood’s negative image of Native Americans.

Littlefeather wore a buckskin dress and moccasins and gave a short speech on behalf of Brando.

Many members of the audience mocked and mocked the speech, and only a few applauded it.

At the time, Littlefeather was still a budding actress with work in films such as ‘Winterhawk’, ‘Shoot the Sun Down’ and ‘The Trial of Billy Jack’.

The speech’s reception unfairly blocked her career and she was quickly blacklisted by the film industry and shunned by the entertainment world.

The apology from the Academy

Sacheen Littlefeather finally got a long-overdue and much-anticipated apology from the Academy in August.

The letter of apology was written by former Academy president David Rubin, who said the abuses suffered by the actress and activist were “unwarranted and unjustified.”

The letter reads:

“The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost of your own career in our industry is irreparable.”

“For too long, the courage you have showed has been unacknowledged.”

“For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

Littlefeather’s response to the apology

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sacheen Littlefeather was “stunned” when she received the formal apology.

“I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this,” said Littlefeather.

“When I was at the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”

After the Oscars incident, Littlefeather claimed she was discriminated against and personally attacked.

On Sunday, the academy shared a quote from her that reads:

“When I am gone, always be reminded that whenever you stand for your truth, you will be keeping my voice and the voices of our nations and our people alive.”

Sacheen Littlefeather’s family has requested donations from the American Indian Child Resource Center in Oakland, California.


Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American activist who decline Marlon Brando’s Oscar, dies at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American activist and actress, dead at 75