Sacheen Littlefeather
By: Tucker Cummings | Categories: Activism, HiLo Heroes

Unless you watched the 1973 Oscars, you’ve probably never heard of SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER (Marie Louise Cruz, born 1946). An activist of Apache, Pueblo, Yaqui, and European ancestry, she had previously participated in the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz by American Indians’ rights activists, as well as in the February ’73 occupation (in protest of a broken treaty) of the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. When Marlon Brando, who supported the American Indian Movement, and who’d been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance The The Godfather, boycotted the Oscars in protest of Hollywood’s depiction of American Indians, he sent Littlefeather to deliver a speech in his stead. Threatened with arrest if she spoke for more than 60 seconds, Littlefeather ad-libbed a quick speech, then later shared Brando’s original text with the press; not many people could have retained such composure in front of a crowd of angry Hollywood elites, but poise and dignity were two things that she had in abundance. Though the native peoples of the Americas had lost the battle against European invaders centuries before she was born, Littlefeather refused to stay silent while her people were cheated.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Constance Rourke, Louise Brooks, and William Steig.

READ MORE about members of the Blank Generation (1944-53).

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Tucker Cummings is a writer whose projects include The Strange Adventures of Margery Jones, a 365-part fiction serial about parallel universes. She also has a microfiction piece featured in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. Hers was the winning story in HiLobrow's kooky-spooky fiction contest.