Sacheen Littlefeather has finally received a long-awaited apology from the Oscars.

Nearly 50 years ago, the actress and activist accepted the Best Actor Oscar on behalf of ‘The Godfather’ star Marlon Brando, who boycotted the 1973 ceremony to protest Hollywood’s negative portrayals of Native Americans . Littlefeather gave a speech on her behalf, which was mocked and booed by some audience members.

Now Littlefeather will be honored in “An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather,” which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences describes as “a very special program of conversation, reflection, healing and celebration.” The event, announced on Monday, will take place on September 17 at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles.

Littlefeather received a private letter of apology in June from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “The emotional burden you have experienced and the cost of your own career in our industry is irreparable. For too long, the courage you have shown has gone unrecognized,” reads the letter, signed by then-Academy President David Rubin. “For that, we offer both our deepest apologies and our heartfelt admiration.”

Littlefeather, 75, told The Hollywood Reporter in an article published Monday that she was “stunned” to receive a formal apology.

“I never thought I would live to see the day I would hear this, experience this,” Littlefeather said. “When I was on the podium in 1973, I was standing there alone.”

Activist Sacheen Littlefeather attends a Q&A at the SAG President's National Task Force for American Indians and NBC Universal's premiere screening "indian reel" & "Native American actors" on November 20, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

Littlefeather became the first Native American woman to speak onstage at the Oscars. Dressed in a buckskin dress and loafers, she gave a 60-second speech explaining that Brando couldn’t accept the award because of the “film industry’s treatment of American Indians today.”

His message was met with loud boos, as well as applause. In an interview with The Guardian last year, Littlefeather recalled actor John Wayne being backstage during her speech and trying to ‘force’ her off stage: ‘He had to be restrained by six security guards to prevent him from doing so.”

The 1973 Oscars took place during the two-month occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota by the American Indian Movement, which Brando referenced in the speech she gave. In the years since, Littlefeather has said she was discriminated against and personally attacked for her brief appearance.


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