Photo: Associated Press
The Oscars often represent mainstream entertainment from which many North Americans celebrate collectively. This past Sunday, however Americans and Canadians alike found it difficult to celebrate the blinding whiteness (read: decidedly Caucasian) talent in the 2015 Oscar list of nominees and subsequent winners. Oscar host, Neil Patrick Harris jokingly admitted it would be an evening of, “Honouring the best and the Whitest”. This year’s Oscar nominee line up is not a fair representation of the diverse populations that now make-up the ‘mainstream’ in the U.S. and Canada today. Here’s a MUSKRAT list that celebrates the talented Indigenous artists whose work continues to diversify the uniformity of that coveted stage:
BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE – Cree from Piapot First Nations Reserve, Qu’Appelle Valley, SK.
1982 Winner for Best Original Song: An Officer and a Gentleman
Singer/Songwriter, who co-wrote the song “Up Where we Belong” with Jack Nitzsche
CHER – Cherokee
1988 Winner for Best Actress – Moonstruck
1984 Nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Silkwood
CHIEF DAN GEORGE – Coast Salish, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, Vancouver BC 1971 Nomination for Best Actor in a supporting role: Little Big Man
Actor in the role of Old Lodge Skins
Chief Dan George is much celebrated in the Indigenous world and while did not win an Academy Award, he did receive the Order of Canada and has a school in Toronto named after him and a Canadian stamp made in his likeness.
GRAHAM GREENE – Oneida from Six Nations Reserve, Ontario
1994 Nomination for Best Supporting Actor: Dances with Wolves
Actor in the role of Kicking Bird
With a distinguished career in film, television and live theatre, Graham Greene is also a graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre located in Toronto, Ontario
JOANELLE ROMERO – Apache, Cheyenne, Spanish & Jewish from Albuquerque, NM.
2000 One of nine, first-round shortlist nominations for documentary film: American Holocaust When it’s all over I’ll still be Indian
Filmmaker and founder of Red Nation Film Festival. Unfortunately the film did not make it to the final round of five finalists. Romero had great difficulties in finding funding to complete the film although a 29min version is found at her website: http://rednationtv.com/
JOHNNY DEPP – Cherokee/Creek (Honorary son to Ladonna Harris, Comanche)
2008 Nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
2005 Nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
2004 Nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role
JAMES GARNER, Cherokee
1986 Nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role – Murphy’s Romance
JAMES EARL JONES, Cherokee
2012 Winner of an Honorary award
1971 Nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role – The Great White Hope
KIM BASINGER, Cherokee
SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER (Marie Louise Cruz) – White Mountain Apache, AZ
1973 Winner for Best Actor: The Godfather
Activist representing Marlon Brando for his role as Vito Corleone.
Littlefeather presented a statement on behalf of Marlon Brando, who declined his Academy Award as a show of support for American Indians and to bring attention to Wounded Knee occupation at the Pine Ridge reservation which started February 27 of that same year. Brando also boycotted the award show in protest of the “treatment of American Indian peoples by the film industry”.
TOMMY LEE JONES, Comanche