Is Sacheen Littlefeather a Fraud?


Above pictured is Sacheen Littlefeather at the 1973 Oscar’s declining Marlon Brando’s best actor award on his behalf.

Sacheen Littlefeather was a Native American activist who made her mark in history at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1973. Marlon Brando won the best actor Oscar for his role in “The Godfather” and he had Littlefeather publicly decline his award on his behalf.

Before receiving the award at the age of 26, Littlefeather introduced herself as an Apache and president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. This was followed by a mix of sparse applause and booing.

After this act of revolt, members of Hollywood began to look into Littlefeather’s background, accusing her of fake identity and questionable motives. This was swept under the rug and forgotten, but with Littlefeather’s recent death on October 2, many have come out and shared their experience with Littlefeather, including her two sisters.

Though Littlefeather said throughout her life she was White Mountain Apache and Yaqui, through her father’s side of the family, she was accused of ethnic fraud from both her sisters, as seen in Jacqueline Keeler’s article published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The sisters Rosalind Cruz and Trudy Orlandi challenged many parts of Littlefeather’s self made life story. Cruz told Keeler, “It’s disgusting to the heritage of tribal people. And it’s just … insulting to my parents.”, “It is fraud.” Another dispute is Littlefeather’s claim to growing up in poverty and experiencing abuse.

The past actions of Littlefeather have sparked a bigger online discussion arguing, if the policing of Littlefeather is harmful to those trying to connect to their Native American heritage or if it is rightful. The true story of Littlefeather’s fraud needs to be shared. In our society, we cannot afford to put people with false motives on pedestals, someone cannot look-up to a false mentor just to be let down by the truth of their actions. Instead, we need to admire those fighting for a rightful cause.