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Lily Gladstone is Making Waves for Indigenous Stories

Lily Gladstone is Making Waves for Indigenous Stories

Lily Gladstone in front of an Oscar trophy statue

“Hello my friends,” said actress Lily Gladstone during her Golden Globes acceptance speech for best actress in Killers of the Flower Moon. “My name is Eagle Woman. I am Blackfoot. I love you all.”

As the first Indigenous person to win a SAG and Golden Globe award for best actress, Gladstone has not only made cinematic history, but has social media users erupting in a crowd of support and pride- rightfully so.

Born and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, Gladstone’s Indigenous roots originate from the Piegan Blackfeet and New Perce tribes, with her great-great grandfather, Redcrow, being a Kainai Nation leader.

Keeping her Native roots sacred and prominent, Gladstone recalled yearning to be an actress since she was a child.

“My path to acting started with watching a lot of movies because I grew up in a very rural place that was snowed-in for a good part of the year. The first time I realized that acting was an option was when I really wanted to grow up to be an Ewok… so if I wanted that life, I could become an actor.”

– Lily Gladstone to ABC30

Her endearing beginnings have now earned her a spot as the first Indigenous actor from the U.S. on this year’s Oscars nomination list for best actress alongside actresses Emma Stone, Annette Bening, Carey Mulligan and Sandra Huller.

“It’s very, very joyous,” Gladstone told ABC30 regarding her nomination. “It’s an incredible thing that we all celebrate. I know that I’m not going to be the last. I’m just holding the door open now.”

Though she lost to Stone, her powerful presence in Hollywood will never dissipate.

Lily Gladstone at the Oscars red carpet
Gladstone looked absolutely stunning on the Oscars red carpet, her dress designed by a custom Indigenous Gucci designer. (ABC)

Though she rose to fame for her role in Kelly Richard’s 2016 film Certain Women , Gladstone has re-appeared in the spotlight brighter than ever for her groundbreaking role in Martin Scorsese‘s Oscar-nominated film Killers of the Flower Moon as the real-life Native American woman Mollie Kyle.

A prominent member of the Osage tribe, Mollie Kyle was a tenacious survivor of the Osage Indian Murders, a 20 year span where over 60 wealthy Osage members were killed off by crime riggers William Hale and Ernest Burkhart.

Killers of the Flower moon follows Mollie Kyle’s marriage to William Hale and how she discovered his plot to kill her family in order to acquire her wealth, leading her on a quest to protect her entire tribe from more killing sprees.

Though Gladstone is not from the Osage tribe, she said her Indigenous ancestry helped her connect with the shared history and experiences of other Indigenous people. She even ensured her script be translated to Osage to fully embody Mollie Kyle’s personal narrative.

Martin Scorsese and Lily Gladstone at the Oscars
Scorsese has the second most Oscar nominations and is currently holds the most out of today’s living directors.

“It’s correcting a huge historical injustice to telling the story. It feels pretty immense to be a part of all it.”

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– Lily Gladstone to ABC30

The actress is also an active social advocate for Indigenous communities off-screen as well, passionately calling for more authentic and Indigenous representation in media.

Twitter is flooded with messages from various Indigenous communities sharing cultural pride and joy for the game-changing actress. Osage-identifying people have also recognized Gladstone’s amazing work.

Large organizations such as IllumiNative, a social justice organization focusing on uplifting the voices of Indigenous women, posted a congratulatory tweet for Gladstone’s Golden Globe win. The comments section was equally celebratory in the long overdue recognition of Indigenous actors.

Despite her Oscar snub, Gladstone remains a force to be reckoned with in the cinematic world. She has an upcoming role in Hulu’s true-crime series, Under the Bridge, hopefully making more appearances in Hollywood soon. We are proud of Gladstone’s work and extend the biggest congratulations for her recognitions this season!

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