Monday, February 28, 2005

American Indians and the Academy

If you watched the Academy Awards last night, I am sure you were overwhelmed by the number of Native Americans up for awards. What, you didnt see any? You would think Indians weren't making movies, but that's just not true.

Have any Natives ever won an academy award? Or even been nominated?

Well, it seems that Jeff Chandler was nominated playing the role of Apache chief Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950). But unfortunately, Chandler was a white man only playing an Indian. 'Fraid that doesnt count.

It wasn't until 1970 than a Native American was nominated for an Oscar. Chief Dan George was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for his role in Little Big Man. He did not win.

And after another 20 yr interval had passed Graham Greene was nominated for his supporting role in Dances With Wolves. Alas, he did not win either.

And that looks to be it. Twice we've been nominated for supporting roles and twice we've lost. Always the Tonto, never the Lone Ranger.

There was one other "Native moment" of note in Oscar history. Upon receiving his Best Actor award for the Godfather, Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather (aka Maria Cruz) to decline his award. I've read some conflicting accounts over whether Cruz was Native or not, but nevertheless she made part of a rather mild speech that was cut short. At the time, AIM was under seige at the Second Wounded Knee and by the Tuscon Weekly's account, the people at Wounded Knee were happy to get the support.

Oh, and according to that same article in the Tuscon Weekly, Clint Eastwood "asked if the Best Picture Oscar should be awarded 'on behalf of all the cowboys shot in John Ford Westerns over the years'." Nice, Clint. So glad you won last night.

And I think that wraps up the history of Native Americans and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. If you know of any moments, nominations or *gasp* wins, pls leave them in the comments and I will happily add them.

Oh, and for a nice recap of last night's award's, might I recommend my friends over at Bitter Daze.


Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

I'm sure some Native American has won an Oscar it probably wasn't on the acting side but probably on the tech side of things.

I can't imagine that throughout the history of the Oscars not one Native American has been recognized for something.

I'm going to look into this further.

2:51 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

Thanks Doc. Pls do and let me know what you find.

3:50 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

Thanks to Jill Stafford (polly_sings) of the LJ world for this:"This guy, Elmo Williams ( I know is a small part Native American, Cherokee I believe, but I only know this because he adopted my Potawatomie/Kickapoo step-aunt (long, long story) and she and I talked about it at some length. [..] I have zero documentation that he's Native. I only "know" he is cuz he and my step-aunt formed a production company called Kick-a-Kee based on a meshing of the names of the tribes they were related to.

As far as I know, Elmo only knows he's part Cherokee cuz it's part of the family legend (of course Elmo's in his 90's and found out he was part Cherokee way before it was cool to be Native - so who knows)."
Indeed! Well, we won't make Elmo official unless he says he's an Indian, but let's recap his Oscar experiences just in case:

- Produced the Academy Award nominated documentary: "Dear Ma "
- With Theodore Geisel, produced and edited the Academy Award winning documentary: "Design For Death "
- won the Academy Award for "High Noon "
- With wife Lorraine he Produced, Directed, Photographed and Edited the Academy Award nominated documentary: "The Cowboy"
- Nominated for Editing "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"
- Academy Award as Head of Production for "The French Connection"

So if it's true, he has 2 wins and 4 nominations.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

I've been looking and if that's the only name you've come up with I'll take it.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ADAM BEACH may yet be the first native american to win an Oscar.

Already there is buzz about his incredibly powerful role iof IRA HAYES, in FLAGS OF OUT FATHERS, the Clint Eastwood directed, Paul Haggis written, Steven Speilberg produced masterpiece opening Oct 20th.

8:27 PM  

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