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Lily Gladstone makes Oscars history as first Native American to be nominated for best actress

Lily Gladstone is making history with her Oscar nomination, becoming the first Native American to be nominated in the best actress category at the Academy Awards.

Other Indigenous actresses have been nominated before, but as a member of the Blackfeet Nation, Gladstone is the first Native American nominated. She lived on reservations until she was 11 years old, she told The Guardian in 2017.

In "Killers of the Flower Moon," Gladstone portrays Mollie Kyle, a wealthy member of the Osage Nation. In the film, which is based on a true story, Gladstone falls in love with Leonardo DiCaprio's character Ernest Burkhart, and the two become suspicious of the murders of Osage Nation members who became wealthy after striking oil.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in "Killers of the Flower Moon." Paramount Pictures/Apple Original Films

Gladstone studied acting at University of Montana and went on to nab roles in TV shows like "Billions" and movies like "Certain Women," a film based on short stories by Maile Meloy. In 2016, she spoke to her alma mater about getting the role. "It's pretty revolutionary that part went to an almost total unknown and that it went to me, a Native actress, without it being a trope," she said.

She has already made history this awards season with her Golden Globe win for best actress in a motion picture - drama, becoming the first Indigenous person to ever win that award, Entertainment Tonight reports.

During her acceptance speech, Gladstone spoke in her native language, saying: "Hello my friends, my name is Eagle Woman, I'm from the Blackfeet Nation," according to a translation her representative provided to CBS News.

Lily Gladstone poses with the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama for "Killers of the Flower Moon" in the press room during the 81st annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on Jan. 7, 2024. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Switching to English, she said, "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."

Gladstone said her win was for "every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid 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."

Only four Indigenous actresses have been nominated for best actress at the Oscars before: Merle Oberon and Keisha Castle-Hughes, who are both Maori, native to New Zealand, and Yalitza Aparicio, who is Native Mexican. 

"Killers of the Flower Moon" is nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including one for Scott George, nominated for best original song for "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)." George is the first member of the Osage Nation to be nominated for an Academy Award.

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