Sacheen Littlefeather and the Question of Native Identity
Sacheen Littlefeather played college football at the University of Virginia and was the first American of Asian descent to play in the National Football League. He has written two books about his experiences as an Asian American athlete. In her introduction, Susan F. Hsu writes that Littlefeather challenges the commonly held belief of Asian Americans as non-threatening to America. He is a man of color striving to challenge how people see him. He challenges his cultural identity and in doing so he challenges the cultural identity of America. He is not afraid to be who he is.
Littlefeather is well known for his role as the first professional football player of Asian descent. Littlefeather has a long history of activism, beginning at the age of six when he had an encounter with racist people and their white supremacist friends. He was a part of the first US National Asian American Student Conference that brought together Asian American leaders and their non-Asian peers. Littlefeather has played sports at the highest levels and he was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as a student-athlete.
While Littlefeather played at Virginia and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, he never considered himself an Asian American and did not feel any need to claim his Asian identity. In his book, “In Search of My Roots”, Littlefeather talks about how his family sent him back home to Korea as soon as he was drafted. Littlefeather felt that being away from his mother and his family for 2 years felt like a lifetime. Littlefeather’s family and culture had been invaded by colonialism and he felt that it was time to return home to Korea. Littlefeather talks about how the culture of his family made him feel more like an Asian American and less like an American and how he saw the American culture as a white culture and not one that was really his.
When Littlefeather met with white supremacist