Lily Gladstone made made history on Tuesday when she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for “Killers of the Flower Moon” and became the first Native American to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting. In the film, she plays Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman married to a shifty white man (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is involved in the murders of her family and community.
Gladstone, who grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, is of Blackfeet and Nez Perce heritage on her father’s side and white European on her mother’s. When she won the best actress in a drama Golden Globe earlier this month for “Killers,” she delivered part of her acceptance speech in Blackfeet language, saying, according to a CBS News report, “Hello my friends, my name is Eagle Woman, I’m from the Blackfeet Nation.”
Gladstone is the first Native American to be recognized in the acting categories and only the second Native American to be nominated in any category. The first was Buffy Sainte-Marie, who won for the original song “Up Where We Belong” from “An Officer and a Gentleman” in 1983. She, along with Taika Waititi, who took home Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020 for “Jojo Rabbit,” are the only indigenous winners.
Gladstone is also the fourth indigenous person to be nominated for Best Actress, after Merle Oberon (who is part Maori) for “Dark Angel” in 1935; Maori actress Keisha Castle-Hughes for “Whale Rider” in 2004; and Mixtec and Trique actress Yalitza Aparicio for “Roma” in 2019.
In the supporting actor category, indigenous Canadians Chief Dan George and Graham Greene received nominations for, respectively, “Little Big Man” in 1971 and “Dances with Wolves” in 1991.
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