Something very rare happened at the 2020 Academy Awards on Feb. 9.
Taika David Waititi, a New Zealander of Māori descent, won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for his movie “Jojo Rabbit.” He is the film’s director and one of the producers and actors as well.
Waititi joined a very small handful of Indigenous and Native American award winners and nominees in the 92-year history of the Oscars.
During his award speech in front of the crowd at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, and in front of 23.6 million TV viewers, he dedicated his win to “all the Indigenous kids of the world who want to do art and dance and write stories.”
“We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well,” Waititi said.
It was his first Oscar win.
“Jojo Rabbit” is about a young boy who grows up in Nazi Germany during World War II. After being immersed in Nazi propaganda, the boy spends most of his time training for war and talking to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi).
Jojo’s outlook changes, however, when he discovers his mother Rosie (played by Scarlett Johansson) has hidden a Jewish girl in their home.
“Jojo Rabbit” was nominated for six Oscars, including a nomination for actress in a supporting role, film editing, costume design, production design and best picture.
Read more about the relationship between the Oscars and Indigenous Peoples, including the only Native American to receive an Academy Award, from The Seminole Tribune here.