Sacheen Littlefeather says John Wayne is responsible for the ‘most violent moment’ in Oscars history
Native American actor and activist faced backlash after making a speech at the 1973 Oscars
Sacheen Littlefeather has spoken out about the response to her speech at the 1973 Oscars, a month after receiving an official apology from the Academy board.
At the ceremony, held nearly 50 years ago, Littlefeather spoke in Marlon Brando’s place after he was named the winner of the Best Actor award for his work in The Godfather.
However, the then-26-year-old actor and activist rejected the award on Brando’s behalf, and instead gave a speech that condemned Hollywood’s poor depiction of Native American people.
She also highlighted the events at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, where a massacre of Native Americans took place in 1890, and where protests were ongoing.
Though Littlefeather’s actions were met with some sounds of support, others present were angered by her speech. It is claimed that actor John Wayne attempted to approach her on stage, but was restrained.
In August, the board behind the Academy Awards issued an apology to Littlefeather.
In a new interview, Littlefeather said that while she didn’t notice what Wayne was doing at the time, she believes he was responsible for the “most violent moment” in the history of the Oscars.
“I found out that he had been restrained by six security men from assaulting me while I was on that stage,” she told Variety
“That was the most violent moment that had ever taken place at the Academy Awards.”
Clarifying that she heard about Wayne’s reaction from a security guard, Littlefeather continued: “He was never admonished by the Academy. It was never published in the press. But the most violent moments took place then and there at the Academy Awards by John Wayne.”
Following her speech, Littlefeather was largely blacklisted from Hollywood. Despite this, she noted that she doesn’t harbour any ill will towards anyone involved.
“All I know is that… I don’t hold anger, hate or have any animosity toward anyone, including the Academy and the John Waynes of the world,” she said.
“I’m not a wealthy person. I’m a poor person. I don’t have much, but I do what I can. I try not to judge others. So, what other people want to do and what they feel in their hearts, they have to do.”