Sacheen Littlefeather: Her Legacy

Littlefeather being booed as she declines Brando’s Oscar for Best Actor

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Littlefeather being booed as she declines Brando’s Oscar for Best Actor

On March 27, 1973, Marlon Brando won Best Actor at the 45th Academy Awards for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather. In his place, a Native woman took the stage to decline his award because of Hollywood’s treatment and portrayal of Natives in their films and industry. She was booed and heckled as she read the speech Brando wanted her to read. That night, she was blacklisted by Hollywood for speaking her and her people’s truth. That woman was Sacheen Littlefeather.

On October 2 of this year, Sacheen moved on from this world at the age of 75. As well as speaking out against the injustices of Hollywood, she was an activist and actress prior to the Oscars speech.

Sacheen Littlefeather on stage at AMPAS Presents An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on September 17 in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

A little over two weeks ago, the Academy formally held “an evening of conversation, healing and celebration” with Sacheen to correct and apologize for their mistakes from 50 years ago. Her courage, which was initially met with backlash, made a full circle as she is now praised for her bravery in bringing up a sore topic within the world of Cinema. She remarked: “I never thought I’d live to see the day for this program to take place, featuring such wonderful Native performers and Bird Runningwater, a television and film producer who also guided the Sundance Institute’s commitment to Indigenous filmmakers for twenty years through the Institute’s Labs and Sundance Film Festival. This is a dream come true. It is profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago.” The Academy of Motion Pictures released a response which you can read here.

Sacheen’s legacy lives on as we and Hollywood still correct our past mistakes to make a more equal, just world. You can listen to her speech here.


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. I remain Sacheen Littlefeather.

-Sacheen Littlefeather(1946-2022)


by Abbie Lindblad ’24, Arts and Entertainment Editor and Managing Copy Editor