Today women everywhere are standing together. We are breaking the long silence. The Academy Awards have said they do not want political speech this year. Trying to stop us from expressing ourselves is like trying to stop rain, thunder and lightning. We are here, and we are using our voices. We thunder from our being and we will continue to shed light on the truth. Our ancestors are with us.
Read my full statement below.
When I walked onto the stage of the Academy Awards, the FBI was shooting Indian people at Wounded Knee. People on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation shot back to stand up for an innocent man murdered for sport. In 1973, murdering an Indian was like shooting deer: there were no consequences. It is this way now for Indian women who are murdered, raped, and trafficked with no consequences for the men behind these crimes.
In 1973, I took the stage on behalf of Marlon Brando to decline his Oscar for The Godfather. I was told I represented his voice only and that if I went one second over the designated time, I would be arrested. To let myself be publically arrested would contribute to the false narrative of Native people as criminals.
Hollywood and the media are responsible for this narrative, and the ways they have tried to erase Native people. They try to erase us when they cast non-Native people as Natives. They try to erase us when they make movies about us from a White perspective. Movies continue to come out that are about us but not by us. Why are you so insistent in portraying us, writing about us, and pretending to know about us?
I am happy to see a movie that came out this month. Black Panther. Black Panther comes from a Black perspective and it produces bigtime revenue because it is authentic. Its authenticity and truth are powerful and well-crafted. What I want to see is Indians writing about Indians. Whether we are reservation, urban, suburban or rural Natives, we know who and what our experiences are. Our participation will overcome film industry stereotypes. We are beginning to participate. I participated and the FBI watched on international television. The FBI saw me as a threat and made plans to blacklist me. They followed through, but I took the sabotage, death threats, defamation, lies, and slurs with dignity.
My presence on international television ended the Wounded Knee media blackout but in 1973, not many people stood with me. Today women everywhere are standing together. We are breaking the long silence of misogyny. The Academy Awards have said they do not want political speech this year. There is a punishment for speaking out, but holding a threat over women’s heads is useless. Trying to stop us from expressing ourselves is like trying to stop rain, thunder and lightning. We are here, and we are using our voices. We thunder from our being and we will continue to shed light on the truth. Our ancestors are with us.