Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Alcatraz is Not an Island
Indian Activism

Co-presented by:
ITVS
KQED



Timeline of Indian Activism '60s | '70s-'80s | '90s-2002


The '60s


The Alcatraz Proclamation

Contemporary Indian art often explores the impact of social, political and cultural change. These works exist today due to the Native Americans whose actions paved the way for renewed cultural identity and freedom of expression.

Click on the image for a larger view

about the art


Red Paint Can
Red Paint Can
Peter Jones
(Onondaga)

Boyhood Seperation
Boyhood Seperation
Tom Fields
(Cherokee / Creek)

Indoctrination #3
Indoctrination #3
Steven Deo
(Euchee / Muscogee)


Younghawk Seven
Anthony Deiter
(Plains Cree / Ojibwe)



1961 - National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) is organized following the American Indian Charter Convention in Chicago to encourage greater self-sufficiency and autonomy.

1964 - Survival of American Indians (SAIA) forms and stages "fish-ins" to preserve off-reservation fishing rights in Washington state. Those who participate in the fish-ins later help the occupiers on Alcatraz. Fishing and land rights protests continue throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.

March 9, 1964 - First landing at Alcatraz. Five Sioux Indians claim the island under the Fort Laramie 1868 Sioux Treaty enabling Sioux Indians to take possession of surplus federal land. They occupy Alcatraz for four hours, calling for the island's transformation into a cultural center and an Indian university.

October 1966 - Senator George McGovern introduces a resolution highlighting increased desire of Indian people to participate in decisions concerning their people and property.

Summer 1968 - United Native Americans (UNA), a pan-Indian organization, is founded in the San Francisco Bay Area to promote self-determination through Indian control of Indian affairs at every level.

July 1968 - American Indian Movement (AIM) is founded in Minneapolis to protect the city's Native community from police abuse and to create job training and housing and education programs.

December 18, 1968 - Mohawk Indians form a blockade at the Cornwall International Bridge between the U.S. and Canada in protest of the U.S. restricting Native peoples' free movement between the two countries. Many protesters are arrested but the Canadian government dismisses the charges.

October 9, 1969 - American Indian Center in San Francisco burns down. It had been a meeting place that served 30,000 Indian people with social programs. The loss of the center focuses Indian attention on taking over Alcatraz for use as a new facility.

November 9, 1969 - Mohawk Indian Richard Oakes leads an attempt to occupy Alcatraz Island twice in one day. Fourteen Native Americans stay overnight and leave peacefully the following morning.

November 20, 1969 - The 19-month occupation of Alcatraz begins when approximately 80-90 American Indians - mostly college students - take over the island.

December 1969 - Members of the American Indian Movement, led by AIM co-founder Dennis Banks (Leech Lake Ojibwe), arrive at Alcatraz. After about two weeks, they return to Minneapolis bringing new ideas about confrontational activism and land seizure as a tool to confront the federal government's Indian policies.

The '60s



Reclaiming Native Land | Alcatraz | Indian Activism | Talkback | The Filmmakers
Resources | For Educators | Broadcast | ITVS



© 2002 ITVS. All rights reserved.

Broadcast For Educators Resources Filmmakers Talkback Indian Activism Alcatraz Reclaiming Native Land Alcatraz is not an Island 1969 1968 1966 1964 1961 next