Lily Gladstone References Super Bowl While Talking Native American 'Misrepresentation': 'Look at One of the Teams Playing'

The Oscar nominee opened up about her milestone achievement at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Awards on Saturday

<p>VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty</p> Lily Gladstone appears at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


Lily Gladstone appears at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 14th Annual Governors Awards in January 2024

Lily Gladstone asked an audience to "look at one of the teams that's playing" in the Super Bowl when considering Native American representation.

During a conversation with correspondent Dave Karger at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Virtuosos Awards, where she was an honoree, Gladstone opened up about being the first Native American performer nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award.

Describing the overall milestone as "long overdue" on Saturday, the 37-year-old Killers of the Flower Moon star, who is of Siksikaitsitapi and Niimiipuu heritage, noted that "some of the first filmmakers [and] the first film footage was shot by native people documenting our way of life."

"But that's a lot of history and a lot of years of exclusion or misrepresentation, and I mean Super Bowl's tomorrow," she said. "We haven't come that far if we look at one of the teams that's playing."

The San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Gladstone was likely referring to the latter, which has notably faced pushback over its name and arrowhead logo.

Related: Killers of the Flower Moon Star Lily Gladstone Makes History as First Native American Best Actress Oscar Nominee

<p>Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty</p> Kansas City Chiefs players on Dec. 31, 2023

Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Kansas City Chiefs players on Dec. 31, 2023

After the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 2023, demonstrators protested outside the Arizona stadium hosting the NFL event, demanding the organization “stop the chop” and “change the name” of the team, per The Guardian.

The Chiefs previously banned fans in 2020 from wearing fake headdresses and certain types of face paint "that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions" at their home stadium in Kansas City, NPR reported at the time. The decision came just months after the NFL's Washington team — which was previously named after a word that has a history as a racial slur against Native Americans — dropped its name entirely. The team has since rebranded as the Commanders.

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During her conversation with Karger, Gladstone also spoke about how her Oscar nomination is "a lot to put on one person, but I don't look at it as mine."

"It's circumstantial that it's this filmmaker, that it's this point in history, that it's this story, that it's this kind of an epic tale, that it's this character that it's this community," said Gladstone, who uses she/they pronouns. "I mean, the film is so remarkable because of how remarkable Osage people are and how much they had to say about the making of it, how embraced we all were."

"That's ultimately what means the most to me is, I mean, the way that the response in Indian country from the Globes win, it's like, I'm done. It's very shared," they added. "It's very touching to see the impact that a win for one of us means for all of us."

<p>PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty</p> Lily Gladstone


Lily Gladstone

Related: Killers of the Flower Moon True Story: All About the Real Events That Inspired the Martin Scorsese Film

As for Gladstone's latest achievements, she is also the fourth Indigenous actress to ever earn a nomination in the Best Actress category at the Oscars on March 10, thanks to her role of Mollie Burkhart in the Martin Scorsese film. She recently became the first Indigenous woman to win the Golden Globe for the best actress in a motion picture - drama category.

Gladstone spoke in the Blackfeet language during her Globes acceptance speech, and later noted in English that her victory was a "historic" one. "It doesn't belong to just me. I'm holding it right now," she said. "I'm holding it with all my beautiful sisters in the film at this table over here and my mother, Tantoo Cardinal, standing on all of your shoulders. Thank you."

The 96th Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, March 10 from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

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