A major moment for Native American actors and actresses happened today as Sacheen Littlefeather has been given an official apology. Yellowstone star Piper Perabo is very excited. Of course, Perabo plays Summer Higgins on the hit Taylor Sheridan series. A new love interest for John Dutton. But, this moment is more than just one series. This is about righting a decades-long wrong.
At the 1973 Academy Awards, Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native actress and activist gave a powerful speech. She was there on behalf of Marlon Brando to accept the award for Best Actor for his role in The Godfather. Brando was a major star, but also a man with a large heart. He wanted this moment to be used for something more.
The plan was made and went into action. Of course, it was a controversial moment and was meant to be in many ways. Still, the reaction from the crowd and the Academy was shocking and after decades, at least a gesture has been made to right that wrong.
Sacheen Littlefeather Makes her Speech
So, Sacheen Littlefeather went on stage, refused the award, and gave a 60-second version of a long speech that Brando had written. She was met with some applause and a whole lot of boos. She was even threatened to keep the speech short or she would be escorted away by security and law enforcement.
Perabo posted about the Academy finally issuing an apology after almost 50 years of silence on the matter. Littlefeather was ridiculed and treated horribly for taking a stance for her people.
“Sacheen Littlefeather is an icon and exuded so much bravery in order to demand respect for her Native brothers and sisters and their stories,” Perabo reposted on her Instagram.
“Nearly 50 years after being booed at the 1973 Academy Awards, Sacheen Litlefeather received a formal apology from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the treatment.”
The Yellowstone actress even posted a video of the speech that was given showing the reaction from those in attendance. Another often forgotten aspect of the night is Clint Eastwood coming up after Littlefeather.
As a figure of Western film culture, it wasn’t a great look then and looks even worse now. Eastwood got up to the podium and said, “I don’t know if I should present this award, on behalf of all the cowboys shot in all the John Ford Westerns over the years.”
So, the apology to Sacheen Littlefeather is a great gesture. Although it should have been done long ago, you can’t change the past. All we can do is try and make the present a better and more accepting place for all people. Hopefully, Native actors and actresses feel that they do have a role to play in entertainment and won’t be afraid to speak up.