Months after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apologised to her for what happened to her in 1973 Oscars, late Native American actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather’s legacy is being questioned by her family, reports ‘People’ magazine.
After Littlefeather died at age 75 earlier this month, her two sisters now claim that she lied about her indigenous ancestry and was previously known by the family as “Deb” in a bombshell interview with the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’.
“It’s a lie,” Trudy Orlandi said of her sister, quoted by ‘People’ magazine. “My father was who he was. His family came from Mexico. And my dad was born in Oxnard.”
Littlefeather’s other sister Rosalind Cruz added: “It is a fraud. It’s disgusting to the heritage of the tribal people. And it’s just… insulting to my parents.”
According to ‘People’, Littlefeather, who claimed to belong to the White Mountain Apache and Yaqui tribes on her father’s side, rose to infamy in 1973 at the 45th Academy Awards, where she turned down the Oscar for Best Actor on behalf of Marlon Brando, in protest of the film industry’s treatment of Native Americans.
‘People’ further states that in addition to being threatened with arrest if her speech went over 60 seconds, as well as alleged physical violence from John Wayne, who she claimed attempted to storm the stage, Littlefeather faced public mockery over the years for the historic television moment.