She was 75 years old. Littlefeather passed away on Oct. 2 at the age of 75. Sacheen Littlefeather addressing the 45th Academy Awards in October 1973, declining Marlon Brando's Oscar for best actor on his behalf. Its one of the biggest hoaxes certainly the biggest hoax since Iron Eyes Cody, said Dina Gilio-Whitaker, a Cal State San Marcos lecturer of American Indian Studies who was commissioned at one point to ghostwrite Littlefeathers memoir. , Littlefeather died at her home in Novato, California, on October 2, 2022, at the age of 75.  Littlefeather also described herself as one of the original teachers in St. Mary's Traditional Indian Medicine program, which consisted of a series of conferences held between 1984 and 1990 and was coordinated by Comanche medicine man Edgar Monetathchi, Jr, who worked for the Indian Health Service and was the first medicine man to be employed full-time by a Catholic hospital.  In the years immediately following the protest, Littlefeather said that it had "had little effect on the course of her career". "I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening, and that we will in the future, our hearts and our understandings, will meet with love and generosity," she added. Geroldine learned the craft from Leo Leonard, who owned Leonard Saddle Company in Santa Barbara, and Manuel learned to make saddles as a boy in San Francisco. "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," the quote read.  Actor Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto in The Lone Ranger and later founded the Indian Actors Workshop, commented that he didn't think Littlefeather's appearance at Oscars "did any harm or any particular good. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper. Littlefeather died at her home in Novato, California, after a years-long battle with breast cancer, which eventually metastasized to her right lung. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images). Get the best of Fox News' entertainment coverage, right in your inbox. Tyler Perrys Inspiring Oscars Acceptance Speech Denounces Hate, Zendaya Makes Emmy Awards History and Sets Two Records in One Night, Chlo Zhao Makes History as First Woman of Color To Win Oscar for Best Director, Natalie Portman Wore Cape Embroidered With Names of Women Directors Snubbed by Oscars. Littlefeather said her father was of Apache and Yaqui ancestry and her mother was of European descent. They also said that their father, who was born in Oxnard, California, was of Spanish-Mexican descent and had no tribal ties. "I beg at this time that I have not intruded on this evening, and that in the future our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity," Littlefeather added as she rejected the Academy Awardfor Brando. In 1964 during a fish-in, which was a protest to honor fishing rights on Puget Sound promised to Native American tribes, he was even arrested. Entertainment | , A 1987 profile of Littlefeather stated that she was a recipient of the 1986 Traditional Indian Medicine Achievement Award for her participation in the Traditional Indian Medicine Program at St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. Littlefeather, who appeared nervous during her speech and was booed by a few attendees, received both harassment and praise after the event. ", CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER. Sacheen Littlefeather (left) appeared at the 1973 Oscars to decline a Best Oscar trophy for Marlon Brando, introducing herself as Apache and saying "The Godfather" actor could not accept because . Sacheen Littlefeather holds a written statement from actor Marlon Brando refusing his Best Actor Oscar on stage at the Academy Awards, Los Angeles, California. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group), Trudy Orlandi remembers her late sister Maria Cruz, the woman who would later become famous as Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather, during an interview at her home in Marin County, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. 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Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Other claims appear to have been exaggerated or are simply false, including that she worked with Mother Teresa on AIDS patients, that she participated in the Native American protest/occupation at Alcatraz and that John Wayne tried to attack her at her Oscars appearance. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images), Sacheen Littlefeather laughs while chatting with Museum of the American Indian interim executive director Victoria Canby at the museum in Novato, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2020. 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She said in a 2021 interview that the cancer had metastasized to her right lung and that she was terminal. , In 1975, Littlefeather reported that she was working on a movie script about Edward S. Curtis with Cap Weinberger, Jr, who had written an article about Curtis for Smithsonian magazine. The actress, who had breast cancer, died on Sunday . or redistributed. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sacheen-littlefeather-academy-awards-2477981.  She participated in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz, including serving as head pow wow judge.  She emceed an evening performance at the United National Indian Tribal Youth conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1976. And while Brando's motives weren't fully appreciated at the time, today it's clear that he was ahead of his time. The allegations emerged into public view in October when Native American journalist Jacqueline Keeler published an investigation into the Mexican ancestry of Littlefeathers California-born father, Manuel Cruz. None of Littlefeathers relatives identified as Native American, Keeler said. The Apache and Yaqui activist respectfully waved off actor Roger Moore, who attempted to hand her the statue. After the Academy Award speech, Littlefeather worked in hospice care. , In 1973, Littlefeather was married to engineer Michael Rubio. Since the Native American hasnt been able to hear his voice heard or have his voice heard anywhere in the history of the United States, he shared, I felt that it was a marvelous opportunity for an Indian to be able to voice his opinion to 85 million people and I felt that he had a right to in view of what Hollywood has done to him.. ", Sacheen Littlefeather is the subject of a new documentary titled 'Sacheen: Breaking The Silence.' For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration," he added. Entertainment | The Academy of Motion Picture Arts.  Littlefeather was personally criticized for what was seen as exploitation of her fame, but she explained that it was "strictly a business agreement" to earn the money needed to attend the World Theater Festival in Nancy, France. Sacheen Littlefeather is the subject of a new documentary titled 'Sacheen: Breaking The Silence.  She worked at a radio station, KFRC, for about six months and did freelance reporting for PBS member station KQED. It was televised to 85 million people. In 1973, riding high off the success ofThe Godfather, actor Marlon Brando used his platform to give a voice to Native Americans. He instead sent Sacheen Littlefeather (born Marie Cruz), a young Apache/Yaqui activist who had participated in the Alcatraz Island occupation. , According to Ann Brebner of the Brebner Agency, which handled Littlefeather's modeling bookings, she was deluged with mail and phone calls after her Oscars appearance, which led to radio and television appearances as well as the opportunity to read for several film roles.  Around this time she adopted the name Sacheen Littlefeather. Gilio-Whitaker, Dina.  While traveling, she became interested in the food of other cultures and noted similarities between foods such as Spanish buuelos and American Indian fry bread as well as Russian pirozhki and the meat pies made by her Kiowa friends. , She continued doing activism and became a respected member of California's Native American community.  An account from the night of the Oscar ceremony describes Francis Ford Coppola observing Littlefeather on a TV monitor backstage and stating "Sacheen Littlefeather. You've successfully subscribed to this newsletter! And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industryexcuse me [booing and applause] and on television in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. And Brando had decided to cast the 26-year-old aspiring actress as his Oscars proxy to reject the award, denounce the negative stereotyping of American Indians in entertainment and bring attention to the Wounded Knee Occupation protest in South Dakota. By 1949, they had moved to Salinas and opened up their own business, Cruz Saddlery. When Brando was announced as the best actor winner for his role in "The Godfather," Littlefeather took the stage to make a powerful and poignant statement about the depiction of Native . Few Academy Awards ceremonies have been as eventful as the one held in 1973, when Marlon Brando sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather to explain why he was rejecting his award . , In November 2019 she received the Brando Award, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to the American Indian, from the Red Nation International Film Festival. The Native American actor and activist has died of breast cancer at age 75. It took nearly 50 years, but in June 2022 they issued a formal apology to Littlefeather and on September 17 an event was held in her honor at the Academy Museum.  On March 6, 1973, she participated in a meeting between the Federal Communications Commission and members of several minority groups about the representation of minorities on television. Where did that come from?.  In an interview published just before her Academy Awards appearance, she stated that she had helped send two Indian nurses to Wounded Knee and that she had relinquished her United States citizenship, along with seven Native Americans. The statement was read in full at An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather on September 17, an event honoring Littlefeather and featuring a conversation between her and producer Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache/N.M. , After giving the speech, Littlefeather spent two days in Los Angeles before returning to San Francisco. He had also participated in the March on Washington in 1963 and he supported the work of Dr. Martin Luther King. Sacheen Littlefeather, who famously took to the stage when Marlon Brando won an Oscar for The Godfather to decline the award, has died at the age of 75.  After high school, she attended Hartnell Junior College and studied elementary education. The History of the American Indian Movement (AIM), Indian Citizenship Act: Granted Citizenship but Not Voting Rights, The Native American Ghost Dance, a Symbol of Defiance, Top 10 Classic Films With a Social Message, Indian Reorganization Act: A New Deal for American Indians, 5 Common Indigenous Stereotypes in Film and Television. In an article in the San . Sacheen Littlefeather on stage at AMPAS Presents An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on September 17, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. The social turbulence of the 1970s was a time of much-needed change in Indian country. "It was the first time anyone had made a political statement at the Oscars," Littlefeather said in the documentary, as quoted by the outlet. In June, the. She's a friend of mine that I introduced to B She's an Indian princess. Marlon Brando Jr. (Omaha, Nebraska, April 3, 1924-Los Angeles, California, July 1, 2004) was an American film and theater actor.  In 1970, as "Sacheen Littlefeather of Alcatraz", she was named Miss Vampire USA, a promotion for House of Dark Shadows. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry excuse me and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee," she said, referencing the Wounded Knee Occupation of 1973. , Littlefeather joined the audience minutes before the award for Best Actor was announced.  However, on her official website, a response to Ebert's article contradicts the lawyer and states that she was born Marie Cruz. En marzo de 1973 la actriz y activista indgena Sacheen Littlefeather se present en la gala de los Premios scar y declin sostener la estatuilla que haba ganado Marlon Brando por su papel de Vito Corleone en El Padrino .