“For every evil there are two remedies: time and silence” wrote Alexandre Dumas. The Indians know this well, they are a wise and patient people. And a lot of time has passed, even half century now, since when Sacheen Littlefeather, ‘Little feather’ went up on the stage of Oscar to read the reason for the rejection of the award by Marlon Brandowho did not want to accept it for the “treatment reserved for American Indians from the film industry “.
Insulted and offended on the stage of the Oscars
Brando had won the coveted statuette as the best leading actor in a film destined to go down in history, “The Godfather“. But not only that film entered the story, but also what happened that day in Piccola Piuma, at the time 26 years old, under the spotlights that illuminated that sparkling stage. There very young native american in 60 seconds he read harsh words against the mistreatment suffered by his community. But instead of getting understanding and closeness, he was submerged by an avalanche of whistlesand as if that were not enough, they also got up from the audience present in the room racist slurs. The fact that the 1973 Oscars were held at a delicate moment, given that those were the months of occupation by the American Indian Movement in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, does not justify that absurd and unacceptable behavior of the public.
It was the actor himself who had invited the young actress and model to take part in the Night of the Stars to draw attention to how Native Americans were portrayed in films americans Marie Louise Cruzwho is now 75, made a strong gesture: he introduced himself with the braids and wearing a deerskin suit, and with one hand she pushed away the famous golden statuette brought to her by Roger Moore and Liv Ulmann. However his message went unheard (at least at the time). Not only that: the reporters reported that John Wayne, who at that moment was in the backstage, on hearing those words went on a rampage. And it did not end that evening, on the contrary it went much further: Marie Louise Cruz ‘Little Feather’ declared that she suffered in the years to follow many discrimination in the world of cinema, and always because of that speech to have been attacked, offended and mocked.
The Academy’s apology half a century later
“Every time a woman fights for herself, fight for all women”Wrote the poet Maya Angelou. Fifty years ago, Marie Louise Cruz was the first Native American woman to ever speak from that stage. A century later, the time has finally come apologies from the Academy: “The abuse you suffered for your speech was unjustified and totally inappropriate” said the former president of the Academy David Rubin in a letter to Littlefeather, inviting her to an event to be held on September 17 in Los Angeles. The speech by the Apache actress it was therefore not only rehabilitated, but also defined “A powerful affirmation that continues to remind us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity “. A message that, clearly, recognizes Little Feather as extraordinary strength: “For too long the courage you have shown has been ignored – reads the letter from the former Academy president -. The abuse you suffered was unwarranted, and the cost to your career in our industry and the emotional burden you have experienced are irreparable. For all this, we offer our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration ”.
An evening to “talk, celebrate and heal”
The evening of 17 September – which will also be attended by the co-president of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance, the producer Bird Runningwater – was organized with a triple purpose: to “talk, celebrate, heal“. For her part, the actress said in a statement that she found “deeply encouraging to see how much Hollywood has changed” after her great rejection. And as for the apology you said: “We Indians are very patient people, it’s just been 50 years!”. And in doing so she did not fail to emphasize that keeping a high sense of humor, in all circumstances, is essential for them, since it helps them to survive.
Speaking of “a dream that comes true”, Piccola Piuma has given everyone another lesson of profound humanity and courage. She accepted the invitation to attend the evening organized in his honor of her, where she will finally receive those warm applause that she should have received many years ago. She thus demonstrating that she accepted the belated apologies of those who, instead of understanding her and embracing her, only hurt her. But on the other hand, as the wise Indians know well, when you forgive yourself you certainly do it not to erase the past, but to change the future.