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Alcatraz is Not an Island

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Montague CA

This is all so fascinating to me. Mostly, in that, I am 42 years old and grew up on the west coast and never heard of the Alcatraz Indian Occupation until I visited Alcatraz with my son's 8th grade class last month. Wow! Shouldn't we be teaching this in our public schools as American History? This also grabbed my attention especially because my husband is Native American. He was born in San Francisco on ebruary 3 1969. He was given up for adoption in 1971, went into foster care and was adopted in 1974. We are in the process of opening records but things move very slowly in the court system. It dawned on me when I saw the video at Alcatraz that his birth mother or father may have had him at the island at some point and someone might remember something. We have been told that his birth mom was Yakama Indian and his birth father Alaskan Indian but have received conflicting stories. We have also been told that he stayed with his birth mom and maternal aunt for his first 2 years and travelled between San Francisco and Washington State. I don't know if anyone out there might have any information that would help us, but if you do we would greatly appreciate it. Aaron is 38 years old and would very much like to know about his ancestory and his birth family.

LaNada Means
Fort Hall, Idaho

My name was LaNada Means at the time we took Alcatraz as students from UC Berkeley and SF State. There seems to be alot of confusion surrounding the Alcatraz takeover and my intent is to clear up some of the misunderstandings. I was the Chair of the Indian Student Group at UC Berkeley when Richard Oaks, Chair of the Indian Student group at SF State took Alcatraz Island. The student takeover was separate from any claims made by any other parties. We took the island as a non violent protest against the government's disqusting treatment of Indian people and the broken treaties or lack of enforcement to recognize their legal promises to our tribes. We made some gains at that time such as funded mandates signed into law by the Congress and President Nixon. Nixon did a White House Message on American Indians in 1970 which was the first and last presidential White House Message. Since our history has been distorted and our people muted, we have not had any opportunity to bring you up to date on our status on the reservations. The non Indian population and public has been kept in the dark and ignorant about us. We continue to struggle on Indian reservations with the same poor treatment by the federal government. Has anyone heard about the lawsuit by Elouise Cobell against the Department of Interior regarding the gross mismanagement of trust assets? Look it up on the web and this will bring you up to date about the Bureau of Indian Affair's continued mismangement of our lands and resources. We still have nothing to say because we are only one half of one percent of the entire population as a result of a death of attrition. We still live as third world countries within the wealthiest nation in the world and treated poorly. We need to educate the public and destroy the ignorance of the stranglehold that is perpetuated against our people for control of our remaining lands and resources. At the same time, we need to be able to educate our own people while maintaining our cultural foundation. The whole problem is magnified out into the masses and now the public shares our issues as well. By this I mean, drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancies and suicide, lack of education and the growing poverty. All I can say is educate yourself the best you can and learn what real spirituality is all about until it is a way of life for you. Say your prayers asking that our earth will be healed, pray for world wide peace, protect the children and innocent and plant and animal life, all life. June 21 is the Summer solstice which is a day of prayer internationally. Pray to heal mother earth because we are all on this planet and if she doesnt heal, we all must find the spiritual strength to pray for a future. Thats all I can say for now, Thank you. 11/27/06
Casey Kelly
Minneapolis, MN

I am PhD student doing research on the rhetorical practice of the Red Power Movement and I am having difficulty getting access to primary sources such as the communication/speeches/letters. I would like to solicite any help in tracking down such sources from the Alcatraz occupation such as the newletters from the Indians of All Tribes and anything similar.
Karen Bohay
Anadarko, OK

My older brother, George Bear, was a student at UCLA during the Alcatraz takeover, and was one of the first few on the island. That event was one of the proudest in his short life. Sadly, I lost my brother to leukemia a few years back. He was also involved in the takeover at D-Q University in Davis, CA. I ended up in the 80's working at D-QU as the registrar. While I was there, we tried very hard to keep it going for the Native American youth who wanted to continue their education. Now, though, I hear it is going under due to bad leadership. What a loss! If anyone who was on the island or involved in the DQ takeover remembers him, please contact me. Thanks.
David Velarde Jr.
Dulce, New Mexico

I am currently writing a history of my participation on the Longest Walk. I partiicipated on the Walk from Alcatraz to Washington, D.C., I've seen very little written about it by people on the Walk that weren't part of the leadership. Recently I became a grandfather and it changed the way I thought about the world. I want my grand daughter to know the struggle of her people and how we stood up to the mightiest economic power in the world and were successful. In the reelection efforts of Dan Cunningham and Mr. Lloyd Meeds. They lost their jobs in the next election and all twelve bills that were in Congress were defeated. The Longest Walk was about young people doing something without the efforts of the leadership. All I saw of the leadership during that time were when the cameras were around. During the long, hot days it was the young and the old that carried the staff to DC. I want my grand daughter to know that I stood for something. I would like other participants that were with the Walk to contact me and maybe we can get together a book telling of our experiences in that historic journey.
San Francisco

Hi, I am an international student from England, currently studying at San Francisco State. I am writing my dissertation on the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz and how one of the reasons for its success is that it captured the imagination of the general public. I was wondering if anyone knows where primary documents are held from the occupation and if anyone knows how to get in contact with any of the participants of the occupation.
Your help would be greatly appreciated, my email addess is

If anyone knows or has meet Adam Fortunate Eagle or knows any of his relatives who I could email, I would greatly appreciate it.
if that email doesn't work please try
John Miles

I am a PhD student in Native American Literature and I am working on my dissertation regarding Native American Rhetorical practices frmo 1870-1970. I just finished Robert Warrior's book on the occupation and was wondering if anyone knows where primary documents are held from the occupation.
Vancouver, Washington

I am also doing National History Day, if anyone could contact me with some information it would be great, my E-mail is

hello. this site is fascinating. i am currently writing my thesis on this topic and i am curious if anyone knows how to access the Indians of All Tribes Newsletters that were sent during the occupation?
thanks! 1/25/06
Adam Nordwall

Daniel post your e-mail address and i can get back to you, i am Frotunae eagles grandson. 1/9/06
Daniel Wagner
San Diego, Ca

My message is for anyone out there who knows more about the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz. I am a 5th grade student and I am participating in National History Day. My report is on the theme taking a stand and I am doing the occupation of alcatraz. In order to have a competitve project I need primary sources. If anyone knows or has meet Adam Fortunate Eagle or knows any of his relatives who I could email, I would greatly appreciate it. 12/13/05

I think that this info is very useful to people who like to research, or has to to research. 11/18/05
Craig Glassner
San Francisco, California

As Thanksgiving approaches I wanted to remind folk that if they wish to attend the International Indian Treaty Council's "Sunrise Gathering" on Alcatraz Island they should purchase their tickets in advance, as the event always sells out. This can be done online at or by phone by calling 415-705-5555. 6/20/05
Don WQeathington
Tryon, NC
I came across your website while researching a book that I'm writing about the time period. I hope to do justice to the events surrounding the occupation of Alcatraz. Although the occupiers were eventually rousted from the island, many changes in policy were born from their efforts. 11/16/04
janet casper
peoria, Il
I remember vividly watching the process unfold and wanting to be there but I did nothing.

I have a small library of original writings put into book form from the 1950's; they tell stories that break my heart. What would I have done in the 1800's about the Indians?

Then while watching the program tonight, I listened to the drums. Chills pulled me close to the documentary. Now I understand, it is in my genes. My great-grandmother was an Indian about the time of the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois. My grandfather looked very Indian but did not speak of his early life.

Now, all is lost. My family is gone; I do not know my tribe; the stories, the companionship; and I am again so very sad. Do I believe that the 21st century should return rights to lands, yes. We need to be together in clans, again, as we once were.

Elvin Willie, Jr.
I just came back from the opening of the National Indian Museum in DC. It was a very uplifting and emotional experience. I haven't felt that good since i was 16 yrs old when me & my family lived on the Rock. My mother was a student at UC, Berkeley in '69 and thanks to her, we took part in the occupation. It would've been good if the National Indian Museum had a display or exhibit of the occupation. The only display of Indian activism were the automatic weapons used during the Wounded Knee occupation. Perhaps they are working on an Alcatraz display, if not, they should be. The occupation was the greatest event of my life, even at such a young age. Me and my brother Ed were out there for nine straight months, Nov. 1969 to Aug. 1970.

James Fortier
Pacifica, CA
We are aware of the log books that were kept on the island during the early portions of the occupation, in fact when the 30th anniversary of occupation was acknowledged with a reunion and cultural/musical celebration on the island in 1999, one of the log books was on display, although I cannot recall who brought it to the island that day. I canot comment on the authenticity of the item up for auction in the previous posting here, but I can say that I sort of doubt it's legitimacy due to it's description as a a log book with all the names of the AIM members that took the island. As some of you will recall from watching the documentary, while some individual AIM members came to the island AFTER the occupation started, such as Dennis Banks, there was no formal connection between AIM and the Indian students that were primarily involved with the takeover and actual occupation itself.

James Fortier
Director/Co-Writer-Alcatraz Is Not An Island

Gaby Edwards
San Rafael, Ca

I would like to inform you of an interesting item up at auction at Bonhams & Butterfields SF CA Monday June 28, 2004 item # 9152. Log book of the A.I.M. protesters and their historical occupation of Alcatraz in 1970. It contains the names, tribe, birthdates and birthplace of all the protesters. It also contains a sketch for a totem structure which unfortunately was never built. it contains historical information that I feel should not be lost to a memorabilia collectors bookcase.. I would hope to see this in the appropriate institution where those can remember and view.

fayetteville n.c.
that fax for senator dole is-202-224-1100 and her phone is 202-224-6342 her address;senate russell building room 120 washinton d.c.20510. your response will help our NATIVE NATION a great deal,we do need to unite and keep our heritage alive and true.thank you for printing this,so far the response has kept her from federally reconizing the lumbees of north carolinia,so dont let up on this issue. apache

I remember seeing all the natives going to that island and my hart pounded,it wanted to go too. now that I"m older I am ashamed of this government and how it still does us.Here in north carolinia there's this group of people wanting to be federally reconized,to me,what gives the government that right.All we do without and those still on the resevations cant get ahead,but our government can say who are native americans and who arent? These people dont even have any traits of being native.They not only take are land,our rights,but now our nationality is up for grabs.My grandmother was adopted off the res when she was a baby,we have nothing to prove our hertiage but our looks and ways,how can the government make that right again?I want to be involved in all our people are doing to keep this race alive,keep me up dated,and please fax senator dole in washinton dc to not pass the bill to reconise the lumbees of north carolina,help stop that injustice too. May the great spirit keep us strong and united. from the bear clan of the apache nation

Twin Falls, ID
I lived in California during the 1969 takeover of Alcatraz and it was thrilling to witness the strength of character and determination of those involved. But isn't Alcatraz now a park? Did the native people give it up to the parks, was it purchased from them or was it wrested from them again? I also want to make a comment about a documentary I recently saw on PBS. It wasn't about the U.S. natives, but about the Incan natives. Several times during the commentary the word "victory" was used in reference to the slaughter of the Incan people by the Spanish conquestadors. I was appalled. If you have 10 guys on horseback hacking up 1,000 people, it doesn't make "an amazing victory" it makes a sickening massacre. These horrors happen all over the globe, and most certainly happened here in our own country to the native people. I can't imagine a supposed 'in touch' group like PBS airing such an insufferably bad-taste comment such as that. It was a slaughter, has always been so and it sickens me when we glorify it.
PBS being so insensitive is absolutely on-target with our history books. Throw in a few locamotives, a cotton gin, a flag maker, an Explorer or two between the massacres - and what do you have? Glorification of bad behavior - or - History. Do I think it is un-American to protest during wartime? I think it is inhuman to allow a wrong-thinking nation to proceed without its citizens making protest.

La Conner, WA
Alcatraz has always drawn me, I've been fascinated with it since I was a child. I can remember riding in a boat with my grandmother & brother heading for the island. I remember the trashcans & the helicopters "buzzing" the island. I also remember the bad tempered goat! I can stand on the island, close my eyes & go back to those days....watching this allowed me to also do this

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Being non-native and born and raised in the state of South Dakota, I am appauled about all the 'facts' we non-natives have never been educated about growing up. The Native American's are an inspiration to all cultures who are fighting againt oppression and empowerment throughout the world. The U.S. Gov't first of all needs to return the land, starting with the Black Hills. Nothing, can ever make up for unspeakable injustices imposed upon such a beautiful culture and people. The unscupulous conduct of U.S. government's leaders and all other acts of repression, racism, and unhumanitarianism must end. It is my deepest hope that the social justice movements NEVER relinquish their fights for justice. They have been the foundation, and inspiration regarding the way my children are being raised. They have stood up against unsurmountable odds for the sake of justice, not only for the Indigenous peoples of the world, but for all human rights. I am hoping that the movements pursue the Democratic politicians about their positions on Native American issues. I have been a tiny voice addressing them myself with a fervor I have. I would like to see Leonard Peltier freed by the next administration, along with all Native American issued looked into and resolved. I would hope to someday see the highways of South Dakota lined with the Native American people to not only address the return of the Black Hills from the governor, but also to address and demand an end to the brutal hatred, and dispicable treatment of the Native Americans here in South Dakota. I would REALLY like to see the movements address the issue of Blood River Run here. I am bringing the issue of saving this sacred site to everyone I can think of, but I cannot do it alone. This site has been desacrated enough and right now stands to be completely wiped out because of housing and industry that is growing heavily and quickly here. Of the 400 original mounds, there are only 80 left untouched. To me this is unacceptable. Will someone help?

The land that originally belongs to native americans.The pride of our heritage before regaining control of what is ours. Our country and our total freedom,our heritage and our beliefs.The federal government should give us our land back, they should give us our country back but that will never happen now, but no money can replace the harm and damage they have done. White mans justice is not much.I belive that protesting is acceptable at any time when it is needed

Rick Cardenas
St. Paul, Minnesota
How do I get a copy? I was crying at the end of the show and didn't get a phone number.

I watched "Alcatraz ..." on a dreary Sunday afternoon and the show was extremely up-uplifting in its representation of grassroots organizing by a group of people that wanted democratic participation. The processes they used reminded me so much of Paulo Freire and the steps used in Popular Education, that it raised my optimistic nature and the belief that we will bring justice to many people and cultures that have not experience of freedom of making choices about their lives.


3 Feathers
The take over of Alcatraz is a good thing and should be brought more to the public eye and we should celebrate it like we do our independence day and get a day off of school and ABC,NBC,CBS should broadcast the historical event.

West Valley City, Utah
Thank you for the website. While I grew up as a child of the sixties, I remember very little of the news events. I have come to realize as an adult much of what influences our society and the struggles that people face in their lives. I am pleased with the accomplishments of AIM and the individual successes it allows for my American Indian brothers and sisters. I have a small amount of Cherakee blood in my ancestry and find my mind drawn back to a simpler time with a simpler way of life with the lore and art that it affords me to enjoy. Keep up the good work, may the Great Spirit guide your steps.


people with great power are apt to make great mistakes. some even make great promise's and it sounds good all depending on what side of the gun you are on, but the promises were made in writing to a people who had little choice. cheifs and elder arn't listen to much any more are words or that of one blowing in the wind. returned lands our's were not returned will they return the Iraq's lands and are they the new indains.

The occupation of Alcatraz in 1969 is the event that ended the Termination policy and began a movement that continues today. If you happen to be in the Bay Area on Columbus or on Thanksgiving you can join the International Indian Treaty Council on Alcatraz for their Sunrise Gathering.

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