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Forum Post: Another Occupation 40 Years Ago

Posted 12 years ago on Sept. 30, 2011, 4:01 a.m. EST by ZinnReader (92) from Encinitas, CA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

In November 1969, a coalition of veteran activists and students attending the new Native American studies programs at San Francisco State University and Berkeley took over the unused federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. Like other spectacular protests, the occupation of Alcatraz derived energy from considerable media attention, which stimulated support from whites. For instance, the rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival donated a boat to bring supplies to the Island. The following proclamation of the Island's seizure mocked the status of Native American reservations under the Bureau of Indian Affairs and asserted a utopian vision of cultural rebirth. The occupiers held the island for nearly eighteen months.

Indians of All Tribes, November 1969, Occupation of Alcatraz PROCLAMATION:

To the Great White Father and All His People:

We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.

We wish to he fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land, and hereby offer the following treaty:

We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars ($24) in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We know that $24 in trade goods for these 16 acres is more than was paid when Manhattan Island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years. Our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47 cents per acre the white men are now paying the California Indians for their land.

We will give to the inhabitants of this island a portion of that land for their own, to be held in trust by the American Indian Government — for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea — to be administered by the Bureau of Caucasian Affairs (B CA). We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, our life-ways, in order to help them achieve our level of civilization and thus raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. We offer this treaty in good faith and wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with all white men.

We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable for an Indian Reservation, as determined by the white man’s own standards. By this we mean that this place resembles most Indian reservations, in that:

  1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.

  2. It has no fresh running water.

  3. It has inadequate sanitation facilities.

  4. There are no oil or mineral rights.

  5. There is no industry so unemployment is great.

  6. There are no health care facilities.

  7. The soil is rocky and non-productive; and the land does not support game.

  8. There are no educational facilities.

  9. The population has always exceeded the land base.

  10. The population has always been held as prisoners and kept dependent upon others.

Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden Gate, would first see Indian land, and thus be reminded of the true history of this nation. This tiny island would he a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.

USE TO BE MADE OF ALCATRAZ ISLAND What use will be made of this land?

Since the San Francisco Indian Center burned down, there is no place for Indians to assemble and carry on our tribal life here in the white mans city. Therefore, we plan to develop on this island several Indian institutes:

  1. A Center for Native American Studies will be developed which will train our young people in the best of our native cultural arts and sciences, as well as educate them to the skills and knowledge relevant to improve the lives and spirits of all Indian peoples. Attached to this center will be traveling universities, managed by Indians, which will go to the Indian Reservations in order to learn the traditional values from the people, which are now absent in the Caucasian higher educational system.

  2. An American Indian Spiritual center will be developed which will practice our ancient tribal religious ceremonies and medicine. Our cultural arts will be featured and our young people trained in music, dance, and medicine.

  3. An Indian center of Ecology will be built which will train and support our young people in scientific research and practice in order to restore our lands and waters to their pure and natural state. We will seek to de-pollute the air and the water of the Bay Area. We will seek to restore fish and animal life, and to revitalize sea life which has been threatened by the white man’s way. Facilities will be developed to desalt sea water for human use.

  4. A Great Indian Training School will be developed to teach our peoples how to make a living in the world, improve our standards of living, and end hunger and unemployment among all our peoples. This training school will include a center for Indian arts and crafts, and an Indian Restaurant serving native foods and training Indians in culinary arts. This center will display Indian arts and offer the Indian foods of all tribes to the public, so they all may know of the beauty and spirit of the traditional Indian ways.

  5. Some of the present buildings will be taken over to develop an American Indian Museum, which will depict our native foods and other cultural contributions we have given to all the world. Another part of the Museum will present some of the things the white man has given to the Indians, in return for the land and the life he took: disease, alcohol, poverty, and cultural decimation (as symbolized by old tin cans, barbed wire, rubber tires, plastic containers, etc.). Part of the museum will remain a dungeon, to symbolize both Indian captives who were incarcerated for challenging white authority, and those who were imprisoned on reservations. The Museum will show the noble and the tragic events of Indian history, including the broken treaties, the documentary of the Trail of Tears, the Massacre of Wounded Knee, as well as the victory over Yellow- Hair Custer and his army. In the name of all Indians, therefore, we re-claim this island for Indian nations, for all these reasons. We feel this claim is just and proper, and that this land should rightfully be granted to us for as long as the rivers shall run and the sun shall shine.

SIGNED, INDIANS OF ALL TRIBES November 1969 San Francisco, California



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[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 11 years ago

I've felt rejection, aggression, and pushiness from the Red Nation. It hurt. But the white man has pushed me around for 40 years and I am white. I notice the white part more than the red part, savvy?

There is no solution to white consumption, competition, judgement and a hundered insults, but MAYBE take over of the Supreme Court of the Land with regard to Individual Rights? - MAYBE over-riding laws that limit powers of federal and state government as far as Corpus delicti.

MAYBE take over of the Internet is the final assault on us. Without the internet or some other means to exchange information and data, then we are lost. We can not sustain regulation of the internet in view of the current news reporting shortage or criminal negligence.

[-] 1 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 11 years ago

IMHO the most significant "occupation" movement in American history was the so-called "sit down" movement of the mid 1930s when half a million workers "sat down" at their places of employment, essentially violating the most fundamental of property rights and refused to leave until they were granted union recognition. Probably the most significant of these was the great Flint sit down when workers at the General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan sat down for a month, creating the basis for the United Auto Workers union and the whole modern labor movement. IMHO the most logical step beyond the occupation of visible public spaces by OWS would be the massive occupation of work places.

[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 11 years ago

You guys Suck if you don't watch this.

Part one of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee:


[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 11 years ago

This Posting deserves reading.

And I am watching an HBO Movie called "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee".

You guys suck if you don't see this.

It is not new information though as far as the first hour goes. It is predictable in a sense. There is a young Native American boy in 1876 that ends up going to a Christian School, and later to a US College/University. This boy sees the pushing of the white sentric government and the treaties broken. He has insight as he joins white society.

For the first hour, anyway, it s clear that the big white man doesn't value teaching white law and white treaties. Progress is the most importantant thing, or maybe economic supremacy.

But what is the difference if our CIA goes to El Salvador or Nicarauga to shape the economy, politics, and history?


Uh, here is another perspective above from Russell Means.

Part one of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee:


[-] 0 points by BlackSun (275) from Agua León, BC 11 years ago

Okay. There is no such thing as a native American.