Sacheen Littlefeather Built Up a ‘Lie,’ Per Her Sisters

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Sacheen Littlefeather


Sacheen Littlefeather’s younger sisters denounce their sister’s statements about their origins.

For context, Littlefeather is the late Native American actress and civil rights activist famous for taking the stage at the 1973 Oscars to turn down Marlon Brando’s Oscar.

Her sisters, Rosalind Cruz and Trudy Orlandi, said Littlefeather is not Native American.They revealed the information Saturday in a new investigative report published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It is a fraud,” Cruz said of Littlefeather, who recently died. 

Furthermore, Orlandi said: “It’s disgusting to the heritage of the tribal people. And it’s just insulting to my parents. It’s a lie.” 

Littlefeather said she was from White Mountain Apache and had the Yaqui Indian heritage throughout his life. But her sisters revealed to Native American journalist Jacqueline Keeler that they are Spanish. Furthermore, their family had no connection with a tribal identity. 

Keeler’s research into Littlefeather’s ancestry found something to support her sister’s claims.The journalist said the actress was born Maria Louise Cruz to her parents Manuel Ibarra Cruz and Gertrude Bernitz in 1946 in Salinas, California.

In her research, Keeler said, “My review of her father’s side of the family tree, where she claimed her Native heritage, found no documented ties between his extended family and any extant Native American nations in the United States.” 

However, Orlandi and Cruz said their decision to dismiss their sister’s claims stemmed from the need to protect their parents’ names. (Littlefeather’s nickname is “Deb.”) 

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Littlefeather Put Up A Fantasy World

The actress said in a 1974 interview with The Berkeley Gazette that she was raised in poverty. She was living “in a shack in Salinas,” according to the Chronicle. Additionally, she said her father was abusive. 

“My father was deaf. And he had lost his hearing at nine years old through meningitis,” Cruz elaborated. 

“He was born into poverty. His father, George Cruz, was an alcoholic who was violent and used to beat him. And he was passed to foster homes and family. But my sister Sacheen took what happened to him.” 

In addition, they disputed Littlfeather’s claims about how she got her last name. 

The sisters said: “That she danced in front of my father and always wore a feather in her hair, in her head? And that’s when my father called her ‘Littlefeather’? That’s another fantasy.” 

Furthermore, her sisters were not informed of her death and were not invited to her funeral. 

The sisters also noted they were worried after witnessing their sister “being venerated as a saint.” 

In August, the Academy formally apologized to her for the “abuse” and “emotional burden” that weighed her after her appearance at the ceremony. 

“Sacheen did not like herself. She didn’t like being Mexican,” Orlandi claimed. “So, yes, it was better for her that way to play someone else.” 

Meanwhile, Cruz added: “The best way that I could think of summing up my sister is that she created a fantasy.

“She lived in a fantasy, and she died in a fantasy.”

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Photo: EW