Native Activists Mark the Occupation of Alcatraz 50 Years Later

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An image circa 1970 of the sign that originally read "United States Penitentiary" and was painted over to read "United Indian Property" during the occupation of Alcatraz.  (Golden Gate Park Archives)

On November 20, 1969, Native students and activists stormed the island of Alcatraz by boat, launching a 19-month occupation in protest of federal denial of land and tribal rights. The occupation became a cornerstone of Native social justice activism in the 1960s and 70s and fueled a national Red Power movement for American Indian self-determination. Forum looks back on the occupation of Alcatraz ahead of its 50th anniversary and talks about the state of Native American activism today.


Kent Blansett, associate professor of history and Native American studies, University of Nebraska, Omaha; author of "Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement"

LaNada War Jack, a leader of the Occupation of Alcatraz protest; author, "Native Resistance: An Intergenerational Fight for Survival and Life"; president, Indigenous Visions Network