At least Senator Elizabeth Warren had the sense to drop the act long before she became famous. Hollywood, activism and academia though seem to be full of perpetual fake Indians. And, unlike Iron Eyes Cody, of the crying Indian garbage ad, some do real damage.
Sacheen Littlefeather spent her “career” as an activist. And like most Indian activists, she was a fraud.
You might not know her name, but you’ve probably seen the video that made her famous. In 1973, actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage at the Oscars dressed in a beaded buckskin dress in place of Marlon Brando, after he was awarded Best Actor for his role as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.” Claiming Apache heritage, she spoke eloquently, to a backdrop of boos, of the mistreatment of Native Americans by the film industry and beyond.
Her sisters have come forward, long after the fact, to reveal that she was half-Mexican, not Indian at all.
“It’s a lie,” Orlandi told me in an exclusive interview. “My father was who he was. His family came from Mexico. And my dad was born in Oxnard.”
“It is a fraud,” Cruz agreed. “It’s disgusting to the heritage of the tribal people. And it’s just … insulting to my parents.”
Beyond the Oscar appearance, Cruz took part in the Alcatraz occupation (raising the question of whether there were any actual Indians there, or just cosplaying leftists) and attacked Nixon while serving as a spokeswoman for the National American Indian Council which was notorious for the same thing.
It’s not as if this would have been hard to figure out. She never looked like anything except a bad actress portraying a cheesy Hollywood idea of an Indian woman.
Cruz claimed that ‘Littlefeather’ came from the name her father called her and that her mother took her away from her abusive father when she was 4. She tried monetizing her fake Indian routine with cheesy movies and a Playboy spread before Brando picked her up for a little epater le bourgeois. And yet people kept buying her nonsense.
The Academy museum, which infamously made no mention of the Jewish figures in Hollywood history, had a special event celebrating her in September.
Sacheen invites you to a special celebration of live Native American performances featuring a long-awaited statement of apology from the Academy. The evening’s program will include a land acknowledgement courtesy of Virginia Carmelo (Tongva/So. CA), and a conversation between Sacheen and Academy Member, producer, and co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache/NM).
It was all fake all along.
And Cruz is one of countless fake Indians who pervade the media, academia and the entertainment industry because they provide a politically convenient tool for attacking America.
It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at this Indian Country profile of her nonsense.
It was a quiet protest, delivered as Sacheen Littlefeather lived her life — with dignity, grace, compassion and honesty, the way her ancestors would have wanted.
As the first Indigenous woman ever to stand at the podium at the Academy Awards, she put a spotlight on the inhumanity, stereotypes, disrespect and derision that Indigenous people faced in film and television, and brought the Wounded Knee protest to an international audience.
“I did not go up there in protest, with an up-in-the-air fist, with profanity, with a loud, screeching voice,” Littlefeather, now 75, Apache and Yaqui, told ICT in a recent interview. “The way that I went up on stage was prompted by my ancestors. I prayed that my words would meet not with deaf ears but with open hearts and open minds.”
Especially the honesty part. Did everyone really not know? I doubt it. But politics trumps truth.
You mean Fugowi as in “Where the Fugowi?”
Mark Sochor says
A little to quick giving Elizabeth Warren a pass.
Fauxcahontas happy now. She not the only fake Indian around. She make drums talk, collect more wampum.
An Observation says
I’d be interested to know who has less Indian DNA, Ms Littlefeather or Ms Warren. Since a polar bear is less white than Elizabeth Warren’s DNA, that is a pretty steep hill for Sacheen to climb.
Daniel Liebert says
Being Mexican Sacheen does have some Native American DNA. For all we know her ancestor could have been a mighty Aztec priest who cut the living heart out of thousands of captives and slaves on the bloody steps of the great Aztec pyramidx.
Not necessarily. Just because I have ancestors who lived in French Louisiana –one who was an officer in Napolean’s and died trying to get to France to join his come-back– that doesn’t make me French!
S Brustein says
Iron Eyes Cody played an Indian in movies so many times it probably made him think he really was one. There had been another Iron Eyes Cody in films before DiCorti(his real name)who may have been a real Indian.
Spurwing Plover says
The man who played Tonto i The Lone Ranger Jay Silverheels was real unlike Johnny Depp’s painted clown with the stuffed bird on his head,
Lea Head says
Historically, there were frequent raids in and out of the U. s. territory and what was then Mexico. Each side, Native Americans and Mexicans, captured men, women and children and brought them home as captives. They were then “slaves” to whatever tribe held them. Many Mexican nationals today carry Native American genes and vice versa.
Russ Davis says
A helpful line from the SF Chronicle article identifying “Cruz” and “Orlandi:”
“But Littlefeather didn’t tell the truth that night. That’s because, according to her biological sisters, Rosalind Cruz and Trudy Orlandi, Littlefeather isn’t Native at all.”
Haystack Calhoun says
I prefer the Chief in “F Troop”.
Mad Celt says
In the 70s it was hip to identify as an American Indian so much so there were probably more in the general population than on the reservations.
In the 60s, a lot of hippies “became indians” so they could chomp on Peyote and get high while calling it their “native religion”.
Per Ardua says
Mexican natives are as “Indian” as any.
In a real world, people would be held accountable for their lies and deceit. Not in the DNC elite arena where deceit and pandering has been normalized and prerequisite for fellowship into the waiting arm of the democratic party. Line up for the freak show / clinton and THE abamanation a man of twisted social agendas that promoted rachial division /possessed by deviate human sexuality ( trangenderisms ) “god-father”./,gore -“The Pandering whore of global warming” is prime example of their festering out-of-control DNC party partisanship.