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Lily Gladstone makes history as first Native American best actress Oscar nominee

An actor smiles in a black outfit and earrings in front of a crowd.
Lily Gladstone at the Cannes premiere of “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
(Vianney Le Caer / Invision / Associated Press)
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With today’s historic lead actress Academy Award nomination, Lily Gladstone is one step closer to notching a significant win on Oscars night for her performance in Martin Scorsese’sKillers of the Flower Moon.”

Gladstone, who is of Siksikaitsitapi and Niimiipuu heritage, is now the first Native American actress to be nominated for an Oscar at the 96th Academy Awards, and the fourth Indigenous actress to ever earn a nomination in the category.

The actor portrays real-life figure Mollie Kyle opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in the 1920s Oklahoma-set crime drama, about the murders of Osage tribe members committed by white men to steal oil rights.

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Earlier this month, Gladstone made Golden Globes history by becoming the first Indigenous person to win the award for female actor in a motion picture — drama, dedicating it to “every little rez kid” and speaking Blackfeet in their acceptance speech.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ star Lily Gladstone says the Martin Scorsese film was significantly re-written to avoid telling a ‘white-savior story.’

Aug. 31, 2023

The late “Killers” composer Robbie Robertson, who died in August, also became the first Indigenous person to be nominated for original score. “Killers” was nominated for a total of 10 Oscars, including best picture, director, supporting actor, cinematography, editing, production design, song and costume.

Born in Montana and raised in the Blackfeet Nation, Gladstone made her film debut in Arnaud Desplechin’s 2013 drama “Jimmy P.” and earned Indie Spirit and Gotham Award nominations for her turn in Kelly Reichardt’s 2016 drama “Certain Women.”

“This is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream, who is seeing themselves represented and our stories told by ourselves in our own words, with tremendous allies and tremendous trust with and from each other,” Gladstone said in their Golden Globes acceptance speech, acknowledging the historic win.

Three Indigenous women have previously been nominated for the Academy Award for lead actress: Merle Oberon in 1936 for “The Dark Angel,” Keisha Castle-Hughes in 2003 for “Whale Rider” and Yalitza Aparicio in 2019 for “Roma.”

Two Indigenous men, “Little Big Man” star Chief Dan George in 1971 and “Dances With Wolves” star Graham Greene in 1991, were nominated in the supporting actor category.

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One Indigenous performer, “Hawaii” star Jocelyne LaGarde, was nominated for supporting actress in 1967. No Indigenous actor has yet won the Academy Award in any category.

The 2024 Oscars will be held March 10 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood with Jimmy Kimmel returning as host.

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