Brando wins the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Don Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. Brando is not present at the ceremony, and instead, Littlefeather (aka Marie Cruz) refuses the award for him and gives a speech about the mistreatment of Native Americans by the Hollywood film industry. Liv Ullmann and Roger Moore present the award, but Littlefeather refuses to accept the statuette.
Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I’m Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech, which I cannot share with you presently because of time but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, 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 – excuse me – and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening and that we will in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando.