Sacheen Littlefeather Night Thread (Monday Oct. 3)

Native American civil-rights activist and actress Sacheen Littlefeather died yesterday at 75. To most people, she was best known as the speaker sent by Marlon Brando to the Oscars ceremony in 1973 to decline his Best Actor award for The Godfather, something that’s been the subject of jokes and invective ever since (including a widely believed myth that Littlefeather wasn’t really an Indian). For Littlefeather, this was just one incident in a long career dedicated to Native rights. Before the Oscars, she had participated in the occupation of Alcatraz. In later years her work focused especially on health issues, including the AIDS crisis, and the popular media image of Native Americans. Only in August of this year did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offer an apology for the harassment and blacklisting she faced in the wake of her Oscars appearance. She responded in part:

“Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people—it’s only been 50 years! We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our method of survival.”