JUNE 11, 1971


After a 19-month occupation, Federal Marshalls removed the last occupiers from the former Federal prison.  On November 9, 1969, about fifty Native Americans, calling themselves the “Indians of All Tribes, Inc.,” chartered a boat and circled the island, symbolically claiming it.  Five, including Mohawk Richard Oakes, dove off and swam ashore to physically claim it, but left when they met with the island caretaker. On November 20, approximately 100 Native Americans, 80 of whom were students at UCLA, returned.  Oakes was seen as the de facto leader.  By January 1970, many of the original student occupiers returned to college, replaced by non-Indians.  Oakes himself left after the death of his step-daughter on January 5, 1970.  However, during the occupation, some 20 other occupations occurred; 50 more afterwards.  In this sense, the Alcatraz occupation served as a symbol of what could be accomplished through Native American unity.

Source:  Evan Andrews, “Native American Activists Occupy Alcatraz Island, 45 Years Ago,” History, 11/20/2014.  Retrieved 7/3/2019, https://www.history.com/news/native-american-activists-occupy-alcatraz-island-45-years-ago
Photo:  National Park Service.  “Alcatraz Occupation,” NPS, https://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/historyculture/alcatraz-occupation.htm. Public Domain.  Photograph taken by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code

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