I remember watching this awards show on tv when it happened.. I never did know what was in his speech until today, and almost went to tears..Much respect to Marlon Brando! Kudos RIP
(If the colored lettering is hard to read click on the link at the bottom and go to the original)
MARLON BRANDO'S UNFINISHED OSCAR SPEECH
On March 27, 1973, a young Indian woman named Sasheen Littlefeather took the stage during the Academy Awards to decline Marlon Brando's Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather.
"Marlon Brando ... 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 afterward, that he must... very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award.
And the reason for this being... are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry… excuse me… and on television in movie re-runs, and also the 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 understanding will meet with love and generosity.
Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando."
Some in the audience applauded, but most booed. While presenting the Best Picture Award, Clint Eastwood wondered if it should be presented "on behalf of all the cowboys shot in John Ford westerns over the years." Michael Caine then critized Brando for "letting some poor little Indian girl take the boos," instead of appearing and taking the boos himself."
After the ceremony, Littlefeather shared the full text of Brando's statement with the press.
For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ''Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.''
When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.