Sacheen Littlefeather’s sisters refute Native ancestry claims
, 2022-10-24 12:49:35,
Shortly after the death of Sacheen Littlefeather, the activist best known for declining the Academy Award for Best Actor on behalf of Malon Brando in 1973, family members have come forward to contradict Littlefeather’s claims about her heritage. In a new opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, journalist Jacqueline Keeler interviews Littlefeather’s sisters Rosalind Cruz and Trudy Orlandi, who say their family does not have Native heritage.
Indigenous identity and genealogy are not the forte of this particular (white) entertainment writer, but let’s parse the sequence of events here. Keeler writes that “The sisters reached out to tell me their story because, for some time, I have been compiling a public list of alleged ‘Pretendians,’” a term referencing someone who falsely claims Native American heritage. This is a real phenomenon that has been widely covered, from Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign to a recent episode of Rutherford Falls. However, Keeler has become controversial for her methods; she has reportedly mistakenly included true Native Americans on the list, questioned the heritage of at least one figure legitimately enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, and has included information on the list that resembles doxxing, per PowWows.com.
Further, factual evidence of indigenous heritage can be a murky area, as journalist Laura Clark writes in Variety. For one thing,…
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