John Wayne, whose cowboy characters regularly killed Native Americans in his movies, was watching from the wings. Speaking with The Guardian a year before her death, Littlefeather recalled: “During my presentation, he was coming towards me to forcibly take me off the stage, and he had to be restrained by six security men to prevent him from doing so.”
In her documentary Sacheen, she further said: “I was escorted off of that stage by some armed guards. And luckily so, because John Wayne was waiting in the wings ready to go on to pull me off the stage, and he had to be held back by six security men because he was so outraged about what I had said.”
Despite the incident, the Western star who won the Best Actor Oscar for True Grit three years earlier was able to keep his awards. After her speech, Littlefeather headed backstage and discovered to her dismay people doing stereotypical impressions of Native Americans, miming tomahawk chops and doing war cries.