I don’t think that people generally realise what motion picture industry has done to the American Indian, as a matter of fact, all ethnic groups, all minorities, all non-whites. And people just simply don’t realise, just take it for granted that that’s the way people are going to be presented and these clichés are just, I mean on this network every night, well perhaps not every night, but you can see silly renditions of human behaviour, the leering Filipino houseboy, the wily Japanese, the kook or the gook, black man, stupid Indian. It just goes on and on and on. And people actually don’t realise how deeply people are injured by seeing themselves represented, not so much the adults, who are already inured to that kind of pain and pressure, but children. Indian children seeing Indians represented as savage, as ugly, as nasty, vicious, treacherous, drunken. They grow up only with a negative image of themselves and it lasts a lifetime. 

Marlon Brando on why Sacheen Littlefeather presented a speech on his behalf during his Best Actor win for The Godfather at the 1973 Academy Awards
43 years later, Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather reflects on rejecting Marlon Brando’s Oscar
At the 45th Annual Academy Awards in 1973, Marlon Brando was awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his iconic role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather. However, Brando didn’t show up to accept the statue.

“Instead, he sent a Native American activist named Sacheen Littlefeather in his place to decline the award. Littlefeather stood behind the podium and, to a mixed reaction of boos and applause from the audience, explained why the movie star, at the height of his career, was rejecting the Academy’s most prestigious individual honor. “He has asked me to tell you … that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award,” Littlefeather, wearing traditional Apache dress, said. “And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.” The controversy over a lack of diversity among this year’s nominees thrust Littlefeather’s remarkable moment back into the spotlight earlier this month. Watch the video of the unprecedented moment below.

Forty-three years after that fateful moment, Littlefeather, in multiple interviews, looks back on being the first person of color to use the Oscars award show “as a political platform.” Littlefeather walked onto the Academy Awards stage carrying a lengthy speech in her hand, which she told the live audience was too long to read during the time allotted for an acceptance speech. She then explained Brando’s position. “I had only 60 seconds or less and I kept my promise,” she recalled in the interview with Broadly. “Remember, I was making a profound statement: I did not use my fist, I did not use profanity, I used grace and elegance and quiet strength as my tools.”

Littlefeather, who was 27 at the time, recalls her gender being a problem for some people. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times earlier this month, she talked about another of the world’s biggest movie stars at the Oscars that night whom she said was none too pleased with her speech. “Oh, I got threats,” Littlefeather remembered. “They said, ‘Why did they send a woman to do a man’s job?’ [The people backstage] said they’d give me 60 seconds, or they’d arrest me. John Wayne was in the wings, ready to have me taken off stage. He had to be restrained by six security guards. Afterward people questioned my authenticity, they said I wasn’t even Indian.”

Read the full piece and watch the video here


Sacheen Littlefeather on fraudulent people using her name for fundraising

Elder Sacheen Littlefeather is a victim of an Internet Scam & Fraud conducted through a fraudulent Facebook account in her name: [].

This fake account included using her name, picture, image & was used to promote, provide financial information, and solicit money claiming to provide assistance to peoples on the Pine Ridge Reservation among others.

Facebook pages that used her names are ‘Operation Warm Winter,’ ‘Tetuwan Grandmother’s Circle/Society,’ ‘Lakota Unci Cangleska/Lakota Grandmother’s Circle,’ ‘The American Indians Community’, ‘The American Indian’ page.
AmericanIndian8 on twitter.
American Indians and Friends website.

Report all listed above, block, and boost.
The Unbelievable Story Of Why Marlon Brando Rejected His 1973 Oscar For 'The Godfather'

The little-known story behind why “The Godfather” of film, Marlon Brando, rejected his 1973 Oscar.

The man who made offers others couldn’t refuse once refused the movie industry’s heftiest honor.

On March 5, 1973, Marlon Brando declined the Academy Award for Best Actor for his gut-wrenching performance as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” — for a very unexpected reason.

Here’s how it went down.

The Movie That Brought Brando Back

In the 1960s, Brando’s career had slid into decline. His previous two movies  — the famously over-budget “One-Eyed Jacks” and “Mutiny on the Bounty” — tanked at the box office. Critics said ”Mutiny” marked the end of Hollywood’s golden age, and worse still, rumors of Brando’s unruly behavior on set turned him into one of the least desirable actors to work with.

Brando’s career needed saving. “The Godfather” was his defibrillator.

In the epic portrayal of a 1940s New York Mafia family, Brando played the patriarch, the original Don. Though the film follows his son Michael (played by Al Pacino), Vito Corleone is its spine. A ruthless, violent criminal, he loves and protects the family by any means necessary. It’s the warmth of his humanity that makes him indestructible — a paradox shaped by Brando’s remarkable performance.

“The Godfather” grossed nearly $135 million nationwide, and is heralded as one of the greatest films of all time. Pinned against pinnacles of the silver screen — Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, and Peter O’Toole — Brando was favorited to win Best Actor.

Drama At The Awards Show

On the eve of the 45th Academy Awards, Brando announced that he would boycott the ceremony and send Sacheen Littlefeather in his place. A little-known actress, she was then-president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee.

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Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather in his place, to address the American Indian rights movement.

On the evening of March 5, when Liv Ullman and Roger Moore read out the name of the Best Actor award recipient, neither presenter parted their lips in a smile. Their gaze fell on a woman in Apache dress, whose long, dark hair bobbed against her shoulders as she climbed the stairs.

Moore extended the award to Littlefeather, who waved it away with an open palm. She set a letter down on the podium, introduced herself, and said:

“I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening and he has asked me to tell you … that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry —”

The crowd booed. Littlefeather looked down and said “excuse me.” Others in the audience began to clap, cheering her on. She continued only briefly, to “beg” that her appearance was not an intrusion and that they will “meet with love and generosity” in the future.

Watch the scene unfold:

Why He Did It

In 1973, Native Americans had “virtually no representation in the film industry and were primarily used as extras,” Native American studies scholar Dina Gilio-Whitaker writes. “Leading roles depicting Indians in several generations of Westerns were almost always given to white actors.”

But they weren’t just neglected or replaced in film; they were disrespected — a realization that crippled Brando’s image of the industry.

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Brando was 48 when he became the second person to reject an Academy Award for Best Actor.

The following day, The New York Times printed the entirety of his statement — which Littlefeather was unable to read in full because of “time restraints.” Brando expressed support for the American Indian Movement and referenced the ongoing situation at Wounded Knee, where a team of 200 Oglala Lakota activists had occupied a tiny South Dakota town the previous month and was currently under siege by U.S. military forces. He wrote:

The motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing him as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children … see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.”

A tsunami of criticism toppled over Brando and Littlefeather following the Oscars, from peers in the industry and the media.

Still, Brando lent the Native American community a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise awareness of their fight in front of 85 million viewers, leveraging an entertainment platform for political justice in unprecedented fashion. His controversial rejection of the award (which no winner has repeated since) remains one of the most powerful moments in Oscar history.

The speech Brando had wished Sacheen Littlefeather to give [in his stead after winning an Academy Award for The Godfather] was later printed in the New York Times. Here is the text:

For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: “Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.”

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral [ableist language redacted] is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one’s neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we’re not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don’t concern us, and that we don’t care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother’s keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.



“Marlon Brando’s Oscar® win for ” The Godfather" At the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, Brando refused to accept the Oscar for his performance in The Godfather. Sacheen Littlefeather represented him at the ceremony. She appeared in full Apache attire and stated that owing to the “poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry”, Brando would not accept the award.[73] At this time, the 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee occurred, causing rising tensions between the government and Native American activists. The event grabbed the attention of the US and the world media. This was considered a major event and victory for the movement by its supporters and participants.


I had no idea this ever happened. It’s things like this that occur in history that are so awesome. Honestly, this is a whole movie in itself. Who is Sacheen Littlefeather? I want to know her life story now. This video is surreal. The courage she had going up there, up against a crowd she knew was against her-against a crowd that BOOED her! What a badass. The American spirit right here. 

The interesting thing about that incident with Sacheen Littlefeather was that Marlon Brando actively tried to make it all about her by letting her do all the talking, but the people who felt threatened by it and wanted to try to stop the conversation did so by framing it as this selfish thing Brando did, exploiting natives and using their political struggles to make a big media focal point of himself and sponge up all this attention (Also interesting claims when you consider how infamously private Brando was) effectively cutting Sacheen out of the conversation and making it all about Brando.

I see this kind of thing a lot and think it’s a really insidious way to fan the fires of racism (or any kind of bigotry, really) If someone in an advantaged position recognizes their advantage (quite literally checks their privilege) and tries to use their power to draw the spotlight to someone else, media giants will pour all of the attention on the advantaged person who tried to hand over the microphone. This leads people to view that person as insincere, discredit them and insist whatever cause they were trying to draw attention to is a non-issue, and discourages other people in advantaged positions from trying to use their position in a way that draws attention to other people who could benefit for fear of seeming opportunistic in the same way. You don’t even have to frame the person as a bad guy, even if you just reward them for championing causes while punishing others for discussing the same issue from their personal experience, you create this atmosphere of hostility that makes everyone want to keep their heads down.

I don’t even know if it’s intentional or not half the time, but sometimes it seems too efficient and practiced not to be.

YMRT #16: Marlon Brando, 1971-1973

In the early 1950s, Marlon Brando became the first post-war mega-movie star, redefining screen acting and heralding the end of the star system by refusing to sign a studio contract. But as the studio system fell apart in the 1960s, and a new generation of moviegoers rejected the previous decade’s movie stars, Brando acquired a reputation as box office poison. This is the story of how, with two movies shot in 1971 – The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris – Brando turned his career around. He then spent his regained celebrity capital on an act of social activism that simultaneously drew attention to a good cause, and put Hollywood’s culture of self-adoration in its place. 

Show notes!

Today’s episode features excerpts from a conversation between myself and Austin Wilkin, the archivist for the Marlon Brando Estate. I’ve quoted liberally from Brando’s own autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me. Of the many, many Brando biographies, Brando’s Smile by Susan L. Mizruchi and Marlon Brando by Patricia Bosworth were the most helpful. I’m not sure how seriously to take Alice Marchak’s two self-published books about her time working as Brando’s secretary (Wilkin suggested I take them “with a grain of salt”), but I did base some of the section on the 1972 Oscars on Marchak's More Me and Marlon. I consulted Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls to refresh my memory on some aspects of the making of The Godfather; I’ve also written about that film before.

I was a bit shocked to not be able to find an English-language biography of Bernardo Bertolucci (although maybe I shouldn’t have been). I made do with Bernardo Bertolucci: Interviews, and these two articles.

As noted in the podcast, my new book Hollywood Frame by Frame includes images of Brando on the set of The Godfather. The book also includes contact sheets featuring a much younger Brando, on the set of Julius Caesar


“Preludes for Piano #2” by George Gershwin

“Exlibris” by Kosta T

“Looped” by Jahzzar

“Feel it All Around” by Washed Out

“What True Self, Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X” by Chris Zabriskie

“Rite of Passage” by Kevin Macleod

“Jump Into the Fire” by Harry Nilsson

“Be Thankful For What You Got” by Massive Attack

“Blue Lines” by Massive Attack

“Divider” by Chris Zabriskie

“Ghost Story” by Versus

“For Better or Worse” by Kai Engel

“Fiery Yellow” by Stereolab

“money” by Jahzzar

“Cylinder One” by Chris Zabriskie

“Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy

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