Lily Gladstone makes history as the first Indigenous woman to win a Golden Globe
Bella Coco, Staff Writer
On Jan. 7, Lily Gladstone made history after winning the Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture— drama. This made Gladstone the first Indigenous woman to win best actress ever. After accepting the award, the actress began her acceptance speech in the Blackfeet language, which is an Algonquian language spoken by the Blackfeet and Niitsitapi people.
“Hello my relatives,” Gladstone opened in Blackfeet. “My name is Eagle Woman. I have arrived here from the Blackfoot Confederacy. I love you all.”
Gladstone, 37, starred in the 2023 film Killers of the Flower Moon, where she played Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman who lived in 1920s Oklahoma. During the filming of Killers of the Flower Moon, Gladstone took classes for four months to construct sentences in Osage.
“It’s so inspiring to see all of these people working to preserve and revitalize this language,” Gladstone told Vogue. “I’ve lost it now, but by the time I left the set, I was starting to be able to construct my own sentences in Osage. It’s funny because that’s so much further than where I am with the Blackfeet language, even though I grew up hearing bits and pieces of it.”
Even during her acceptance speech, Gladstone poked a bit of fun at not being fluent in Blackfeet, but despite it all, her community was one that nurtured her and allowed her to grow.
“I just spoke a bit of the Blackfeet language,” Gladstone said in her speech. “A beautiful community, a nation that raised me, that encouraged me to keep going, keep doing this. 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.”
In Killers of the Flower Moon, Gladstone improvised a few of her lines and spoke in Osage rather than English. The improvisation was praised by critics and viewers, and many said it made the film and Gladstone’s character more genuine.
Gladstone went on to say that her Golden Globes win was a historic one, and a win that did not solely belong to her.
“I’m holding it right now. 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,” Gladstone tearfully said.
The actress went on to thank Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro for changing things in the industry and for being allies to Indigenous communities.
“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 in our stories told by ourselves in our own words with tremendous allies and tremendous trust from within from each other,” Gladstone concluded.
Many Indigenous communities also felt the victory alongside Gladstone.
“I was beyond thrilled for her and I knew in that moment that it would be history-making,” she said. “The win was bigger than all of us. I was so proud of her,” Michelle Thrush, a Mohkinstisis Cree actress told Global.
Tori McMillan, director of the Mount Royal University Iniskim Centre, also felt Gladstone’s win all the way from Calgary.
“Lily’s performance is an inspiration for Indigenous youth who aspire to tell their stories through the creative arts. Her winning a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama motion picture, along with the film being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, is a reminder that Indigenous talent is abundant and that there are stories to tell that have both critical and commercial appeal. Hearing her introduce herself in Blackfoot at the awards ceremony was a powerful moment to witness, and it brings hope to those who dream of working in Hollywood,” McMillan says.
In addition to her historic win at the Golden Globes, Gladstone was also nominated for best actress at this year’s 96th Academy Awards, which is history in itself. The Academy Awards are expected to air on March 10.