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Native American activist and actress Sacheen Littlefeather passes away, aged 75



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Image source: KTLA

On Monday morning, the world lost another treasure as Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather died at 75.

The news was revealed on Monday when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shared a post on Twitter.

The announcement

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts released a photo of the Apache and Yaqui actress on Monday, writing:

“Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American civil rights activist who famously declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Best Actor Academy Award, has died at the age of 75.”

Littlefeather’s cause of death was not immediately given, but in January 2021, she shared via Facebook that she had metastasized breast cancer.

The actress and activist’s death came weeks after finally receiving a long-overdue apology from the Academy Awards.

The 1974 Academy Awards

Nearly half a century ago, Marlon Brando boycotted the ceremony as an act of protest to Hollywood’s negative portrayals of Native Americans.

Adorning a buckskin dress and moccasins, Littlefeather delivered a short speech on Brando’s behalf.

However, many members of the audience booed and mocked the speech while only a few applauded her.

By then, Littlefeather was still a budding actress with works in films like “Winterhawk,” “Shoot the Sun Down,” and “The Trial of Billy Jack.”

The speech unfairly blocked her career, and she was soon blacklisted from the film industry and shunned by the entertainment world.

The apology

Sacheen Littlefeather finally received the long-overdue apology from the Academy in August.

The letter of apology was written by the Academy’s president David Rubin, who said the abuse the actress and activist endured was “unwarranted and unjustified.”

The letter reads:

“The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost of your own career in our industry is irreparable.”

“For too long, the courage you have showed has been unacknowledged.”

“For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

Littlefeather’s reaction to the apology

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sacheen Littlefeather was “stunned” to receive a formal apology.

“I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this,” said Littlefeather.

“When I was at the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”

Since the Academy Awards, Littlefeather said she was discriminated against and personally attacked.

On Sunday, the Academy shared a quote from her that says:

“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 family asked that donations be made to the American Indian Child Resource Center of Oakland, California.