Even after almost 50 years, the performance of the Indigene Saeen Littlefeather is one of the most memorable moments in the history of the Oscars.

After Roger Moore and Liv Ullmann proclaimed their fellow actor Marlon Brando as best actor at the awards ceremony in 1973 for his role in the mafia film The Godfather, it was not the Hollywood star who took the stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, but Littlefeather .

"I'm Apache and I'm covering for Marlon Brando tonight," said the then 26-year-old.

"The reasons for this are the way the film industry treats American Indians and what is happening in Wounded Knee." The region on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, was the scene of a second conflict between Native Americans and the American government .

In the late 1890s, at least 150 Indians were massacred by soldiers when they refused to surrender their weapons.

In the weeks leading up to the 1973 Oscars, another confrontation ensued.

At that time, supporters of the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the community of Wounded Knee to demonstrate against discrimination by the American judiciary.

In attempts to end the occupation,

two indigenous people were killed and several hundred members of different tribes were arrested.

Brando, who allegedly met Littlefeather through filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, was one of the most prominent advocates for indigenous peoples' rights at the time.

An angry John Wayne

Littlefeather's Oscar speech on Brando's behalf wasn't well-received, however.

The daughter of a white woman and an indigenous woman (born Marie Louise Cruz) was repeatedly interrupted by boos from the audience.

Awards show producer Howard W. Koch recalled an upset John Wayne behind the scenes.

Several security guards were said to be busy keeping the western hero from storming onto the stage to end Littlefeather's performance.

The model, who was wearing a traditional beaded leather dress and indigenous hair accessories at the time, later revealed that filmmakers greeted her with the tomahawk chop, a derogatory hand gesture modeled on an indigenous battle axe, after the speech.

American media accused her of performing at the Oscars out of self-interest,

In a letter published on Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS), as the organizer of the Oscar gala, has now publicly apologized to the indigenous people.

"The abuse you suffered was unfounded and unjustified," then-AMPAS chief David Rubin Littlefeather wrote in mid-June.

The film academy has not honored the courage of the indigenous people for too long.

Littlefeather, who has been battling cancer for years, responded with unexpected generosity.

"We Indians are very patient people - and it's only been 50 years!" she said.

“We have to keep our sense of humor under all circumstances.

It is part of our survival strategy.”