SCOUTING YESTERDAY: Marlon Brando refuses Oscar amid Wounded Knee support
This week in South Dakota history: March 22-28
Marlon Brando turned down the Academy Award for best actor in 1972 for his role in The Godfather, citing Hollywood’s portrayal of American Indians in the film industry. The Rapid City Journal reported at the time Brando did not attend the awards ceremony that night and sent Sacheen Littlefeather in his place.
Following the ceremony, Littlefeather informed the press that Brando was not able to attend the ceremony because he was on his way to Wounded Knee. According to the Argus Leader, members of the American Indian Movement occupation at Wounded Knee were watching the ceremony that night and AIM leader Russell Means recalled, “When he refused the Oscar that was a huge moral boost for us.”
Prior to Brando’s refusal of the Oscar, Kent Frizell had been appointed to manage the Department of Justice’s response to the occupation. Frizell’s plan was to cut off electricity, water and food to Wounded Knee and prohibited media from entering the town. Brando’s refusal of the Oscar brought national attention back to the occupation following the media blackout.
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