With the invention of the internet, it’s harder than ever before for a moment to become completely forgotten and go away forever. Right now @rafaelshimunov, sending out a video to their over 52.1k followers on Twitter, has reminded the internet of a darker moment in film history.
The edited clip shows actress Sacheen Littlefeather declining the Best Actor award for Marlon Brando’s performance in The Godfather. Brando had boycotted the 45th Academy Awards to protest the portrayal of Native Americans in Hollywood movies and to raise awareness for The Wounded Knee Occupation which was taking place at the time.
Littlefeather, who had appeared in movies like Counselor at Crime and The Laughing Policeman at the time, bravely took to the stage to make her speech but got a terrible quip from Clint Eastwood when it was his turn to take the stage afterward.
“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.”
Clint Eastwood – 1973 Oscars
Littlefeather has claimed that there were people making stereotypical Native American war cries at her and miming chopping with a tomahawk when she went backstage as well. But even worse, is how John Wayne almost physically assaulted her for making the speech at all.
“During my presentation, he was coming towards me to forcibly take me off the stage, and he had to be restrained by six security men to prevent him from doing so.”
While it is tragic that Littlefeather currently has terminal breast cancer, her work in activism will never be forgotten. Those interested to learn more about her life can check out the documentary Sacheen available on YouTube.