Native American activist Sacha Littlefeather, who famously appeared on winner Marlon Brando‘s behalf at the 1973 Oscars, has died at the age of 75.
Winterhawk and Trial of Billy Jack actress Littlefeather read part of an eight-page speech written by Brando about the mistreatment of Indigenous people by the American government and Hollywood filmmakers.
Brando did not attend the ceremony and declined his Oscar for his performance in The Godfather
Littlefeather went on to earn a degree in holistic health from Antioch University with a minor in Native American medicine and worked in the wellness industry for decades while continuing her advocacy for Indigenous people.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences formally apologized to Littlefeather in June because few TV networks or filmmakers would hire her after the 1973 Oscars.
“The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified,” David Rubin, who was then president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in a letter dated June 18.
“The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”
Littlefeather announced in March 2018 that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It had metastasized in recent years and she died Sunday at her California home, surrounded by her loved ones.
The official Oscars Twitter feed announced her death Sunday.
The post included a photo of Littlefeather with a quote attributed to her: “When I am gone, always be reminded that whenever you stand for your truth, you will be keeping my voice and the voices of our nations and our people alive. I remain Sacheen Littlefeather.”