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Sacheen Littlefeather on stage at AMPAS Presents An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on September 17, 2022
Sacheen Littlefeather found it hard to get work after protesting at the OscarsImage: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
FilmUnited States of America

US: Native American actress who protested Oscars, dies at 75

Alex Berry
October 3, 2022

Sacheen Littlefeather has passed away, just weeks after receiving a much-delayed apology for her treatment at the 1973 Oscars.


Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American actress and activist, has died aged 75, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Sunday.

Littlefeather gained prominence in 1973 at the first ever live-broadcast Oscars ceremony by refusing to accept, on behalf of Marlon Brando, the Best Actor Oscar for "The Godfather."

The announcement was made over Twitter with the Academy sharing a quote from Littlefeather that read, "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 Oscar protest

The actress pulled off the protest after being asked by Brando himself to decline the award in order to shine a light on the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.

Littlefeather, who had Apache and Yaqui heritage, was booed and heckled by some in the audience and later said that John Wayne, famous for his performances in Western movies, had to be restrained as she left the stage to stop him from assaulting her.

Following her protest, she found it difficult to get work in Hollywood.

The Academy held a ceremony at its LA museum just two weeks ago in honor of Littlefeather after offering her a public apology some five decades after the incident.

"I went up there, like a proud Indian woman with dignity, with courage, with grace, and with humility," she said at the ceremony, adding that "It's never too late for an apology, it's never too late for forgiveness."

Edited by: Kieran Burke

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