ALCATRAZ IS NOT AN ISLAND - Sample Answers



Explanations of why Alcatraz was taken Irony* used by occupiers in public statements
Johnson: In 1962, the federal government began to look at the cost of operating a prison on Alcatraz Island. New prisons were easier or less expensive to operate, and so in 1963, it was decided that the prison on Alcatraz would be closed. A Sioux woman by the name of Belva Cottier and her cousin living in the Bay Area seemed to recall an 1868 Sioux Treaty that said unused federal land that's been abandoned is available to be reclaimed by the Sioux people.

Video: 9:56

Fortunate Eagle: And why Alcatraz? Well, it looks just like most reservations anyway, right. It's removed from society, and there's no running water, and unemployment will be very great. There's not enough game to support the population. And all of these things are just typical of any Indian reservation in the country, so it was a good kind of satire, if you will, to use all of that to say, "If you think life for us on that island is going to be so tough, why don't you take a look around any Indian reservation; and if you're appalled with what you see on Alcatraz, look at those reservations, and let's do something about it."

Video: 12:15

Miller: What motivated us to do this is there are that Indians across North America today are taking strong stands to gain back the lands that they've lost.

Video: 34:45
Oakes: We hereby offer the following treaty: "We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for 24 dollars 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 dollars in trade goods for the 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 a dollar and 24 cents per acre is greater than 47 cents per acre the white man is now paying the California Indians for their land."

Video: 17:40

Johnson: Every Thanksgiving they have an un-Thanksgiving on Alcatraz now to remind people still of the continuing struggle that Indian people have just to get the rights that other people take for granted.

Video: 53:50
Symbolism in the taking of Alcatraz Goals of occupiers
Oakes: 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 be a symbol of the great lands once ruled by free and noble Indians.

Video: 34:05
Mankiller: In 1969, there was a group of people who were willing to stand up and say, "We want our freedom. We want to be made a people. We want the right to self-determination."

Video: 1:39

Miller: What motivated us to do this is there are that Indians across North America today are taking strong stands to gain back the lands that they've lost.

Video: 34:45

Quitiquit: You were angry when you got on Alcatraz. You were angry because you became aware politically and historically what had gone wrong with Indian people in this country. And you had a chance to change it. You had a chance to try to make something change.

Video: 34:52