The Native Occupation of Alcatraz Island and Its Effects on the Greater American Indian Movement.

2062 words 9 pages
The Native Occupation of Alcatraz Island and its Effects on the Greater American Indian Movement. On November 20th, 1969 a group of Indian students, and urban Indians from the Bay Area led by Richard Oakes landed on Alcatraz Island claiming it as "Indian Land" (Johnson). This was a multi-tribal group and so they adopted the name "Indians of All Tribes" (Johnson). The 1969 landing and subsequent 19 month occupation was not the first attempt at an occupation; it was however the last and the longest in a string of 3 attempts (Winton). This Occupation would have a significant effect on the Native American rights movement and also a profound effect on the Country as a whole.
The First attempt was made on March 9, 1964. It was led by Sioux
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They removed the remaining occupiers, six men, four women, and five children. They were taken to the military base on Yerba Buena Island and then put up for one night in a 3rd rate motel in the Tenderloin (Eagle). That was the end of the Indian occupation of Alcatraz. The success of the occupation can't simply be judged by whether the title to the island was ever obtained. The occupation of Alcatraz, while not realizing its main goal, it did accomplish much in the area of Indian rights. The underlying goal of the Indians on Alcatraz was to awaken the American public to the plight of the first Americans, to the suffering caused by the federal government's broken treaties and broken promises, and to the need for Indian self-determination (Johnson). With these goals the occupiers were successful. As a direct and indirect result of the occupation at Alcatraz the official U.S government policy of termination of Indian tribes was ended and replaced by a policy of Indian Self-determination (Johnson). The Indian rights movement which had been silent for near 100 years had come back to the forefront along with other minority rights movements.
Despite the long stalemate and eventual removal of the natives on Alcatraz, it still served as a key victory in the Indian struggle. One Occupier Peter Blue Cloud said It best "Alcatraz is

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