Award-winning Native American actors are also known as first American actors who were able to break the stereotypical barriers that surrounded the Native American movie industry. In the past, Native American actors didn’t get a chance to show their talent because indigenous roles were played by white, male Caucasians who had to wear long, black wigs and feathers and paint their faces. But, somewhere along the road, modern movie makers realized that giving the indigenous parts to real Native American actors could open a new door for the industry. Today, there are dozens of American actors who have been awarded for their talent, some even made it on the Academy Awards list.
Graham Greene is one of the most famous Native American actors today. His performance in ‘Dances with Wolves’ earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Dan George played his first Native American role at the age of 60 and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1970’s film ‘Little Big Man’.
Until recently, the Academy Award jury wasn’t so open-minded about awarding Native American actors. That is why, in 1973, the famous actor Marlon Brando declined to accept the award for his movie ‘The Godfather’ because he wanted to take a stand and blamed the treatment that Native American actors receive in the movie industry. At the Academy Awards gala, a Native American actress, Sacheen Littlefeather, appeared on stage on his behalf and explained why the actor was not present at the ceremony.
Today, award-winning Native Americans have The American Indian Film Festival, the largest forum for Native Indian productions in the world. Founded by actor Michael Smith, the festival is the best opportunity for Native American actors and actresses to showcase their talent and receive awards for their talent.