Lily Gladstone won Best Actress at the Golden Globes last night, becoming the first Indigenous person in history to receive the award. She began her acceptance remarks by speaking in the Blackfeet language.
“Hello, all my relations,” said Gladstone, according to a translation that Karla Bird, a tribal outreach specialist at the University of Montana, provided to Today’s Anna Kaplan. “My name is Eagle Woman. I am Blackfeet. I love you.”
She gave the remainder of her speech in English. “I’m here with my mom, who, even though she’s not Blackfeet, worked tirelessly to get our language into our classrooms so I had a Blackfeet language teacher growing up,” she said.
Gladstone, who has Blackfeet and Nez Perce heritage, spent her early years on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana before moving to Seattle. She won her first Golden Globe for her role as Mollie Burkhart in Killers of the Flower Moon. In the film, Mollie is an Osage woman whose family is murdered after oil is discovered on Osage Nation land in Oklahoma in the 1920s.
Gladstone is only the second Indigenous actress in the Globes’ history to receive a nomination. The first, Irene Bedard, was nominated for her role in the TV movie Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee in 1995.
According to a recent report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which took an inventory of 1,600 top films from the past 16 years, less than a quarter of 1 percent of all speaking characters were Native American—and a quarter of those parts were played by non-Native actors.
Gladstone called out Hollywood’s historical lack of Indigenous representation during her speech.
“I’m so grateful that I can speak even a little bit of my language, which I’m not fluent in, up here, because in this business, Native actors used to speak their lines in English, and then the sound mixers would run them backwards to accomplish Native languages on camera,” she said.
Gladstone’s co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, attended the Globes and wore a pin with the symbol of the Osage nation. “I have my Osage pin on tonight, because, you know, the Osage nation, we’re standing in unison with them for this movie,” he told Entertainment Tonight’s Rachel Smith before the ceremony.
The award comes on the heels of two Best Actress wins for Gladstone at the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. With the Oscars coming up in March, Gladstone’s latest prize continues the award show momentum that she has been generating all season.
“She had a very sharp sense of her own presence before the camera and an extremely unusual trust in simplicity,” Martin Scorsese, the film’s director, told Vulture’s Alison Willmore last month. “That’s a rare thing. You can’t take your eyes off her.”
Gladstone ended her speech by championing the importance of Indigenous representation on the big screen.
“This is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream,” she said, “who is seeing themselves represented and our stories told—by ourselves, in our own words—with tremendous allies and tremendous trust from and with each other.”