September 2022

The Apology

Les Marcott | Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Les Marcott

It has been almost 50 years, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has issued a formal apology to Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather for the persecution and mistreatment she was subjected to at the 1973 Oscars. Littlefeather was chosen by Marlon Brando as his proxy to turn down the award he won as best actor for his performance in The Godfather. Brando orchestrated his nonattendance and non-acceptance as a vehicle to draw attention to what was happening at the siege of Wounded Knee by The American Indian Movement (AIM) and what he perceived to be the mistreatment and misrepresentation of native peoples by Hollywood. Littlefeather was tasked with reading a 15-page speech written by Brando but wasn't allowed to read that on stage (she later read that backstage to the press). Her demeanor proved to be the perfect antidote to the bravado and machismo of Brando.

Some felt that she was the proverbial skunk at the garden party, but this was no skunk. During her brief time on stage, Littlefeather displayed class, dignity, politeness, eloquence, calm, and a stunning beauty that surpassed the glitterati that was in attendance that night. As she left the stage, she was met by boos, racist gestures, and various threats. But a statement had been made; a message was sent. Brando knew what he was doing after all. AIM members who had participated in the Wounded Knee siege to this day credit Brando with helping to ease their plight and ultimately helping to bring a peaceful resolution to that powder keg.

Unfortunately for Sacheen Littlefeather, her reputation would take a beating. Vicious rumors and attacks concerning her ethnicity (some claimed she was an imposter who wasn't Native American – she was) would derail a budding acting and modeling career. She spent many years in a career involving health and nutrition utilizing native American medicines. Her website mentions that she is the coordinator for the Kateri prayer circle in San Francisco where she resides. In 2019, she received the Brando Award, which honors those individuals for their contributions to the Native American.

Some apologies are better late than never.


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Les Marcott | Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Les Marcott is a songwriter, musician, performer and a Senior Writer and columnist for Scene4.  For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2022 Les Marcott
©2022 Publication Scene4 Magazine



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