1969 November 20

79 Native-Americans Occupy Alcatraz Island


Seventy-nine Native-Americans seized control of the island of Alcatraz, the former federal prison and now a national park, to dramatize the campaign for Native-American rights. The occupation on this day was led by the Indians of All Tribes (IAT), who claimed that the island belonged to Native Americans under the 1868 Treaty of Ft. Laramie, which provided for the return of all abandoned federal property to Native-Americans.

On December 22, 1969, the occupiers began broadcasting an unlicensed radio station Radio Free Alcatraz. The federal prison on Alcatraz had closed in 1963. The occupation lasted for 19 months, ending in June 1971. An earlier, four-hour occupation had occurred in March 1964.

Native American activists undertook other symbolic protests at historic places. On November 26, 1979, a group staged a counter-Thanksgiving protest at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, proclaiming it a “national day of mourning.

Watch the occupation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adpVf6yMlew

Learn more: Paul Smith and Robert Allen Warrior, Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (1996)

Learn more about the history of Alcatraz: http://www.history.com/topics/alcatraz

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