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J. American Indians Occupy Alcatraz

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J. American Indians Occupy Alcatraz

Primary source:
Indians of All Tribes, "Proclamation: To the Great White Father and All His People," statement, 1969.
Background information: In 1968, American Indians claiming a long history of oppression at the hands of white Americans organized the American Indian Movement (AIM). AIM and other groups staged a series of actions to further their cause. From 1969 to 1971, the organization Indians of All Tribes occupied the abandoned federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. In the proclamation excerpted here they explain their reasons.

To the Great White Father and All His People:

We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery. . . .

We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more than suitable for an Indian Reservation, as determined by the white man's own standards. By this we mean that this place resembles most Indian reservations in that:

  1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.

  2. It has no fresh running water.

  3. The sanitation facilities are inadequate.

  4. There are no oil or mineral rights.

  5. There is no industry and so unemployment is very great.

  6. There are no health care facilities.... [ . . . ]

Further, it would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all over the world, entering the Golden Gate [at San Francisco harbor], 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. [ . . . ]

Indians of All Tribes, "Proclamation: To the Great White Father and All His People" (November 1969), reprinted in Troy R. Johnson, The Occupation of Alcatraz Island: Indian Self-Determination and the Rise of Indian Activism (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 53–5. The full text (with some differences) is available at

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