Activists Remember Alcatraz Occupation, Still Protecting Indigenous Lands

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Native American occupation of Alcatraz, an event referred to by many as the beginning of the concept of Red Power.

In November of 1969 a group of Native Americans began an occupation of Alcatraz Island which had been declared surplus by the government with a proposal to build high-end homes and a casino looming.

Activist Fred Short, who was in his mid 20’s when he participated in the protests said the occupation grew exponentially within months.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“The leaders that were there were fortunate enough to occupy Alcatraz because if it wasn’t being used as Federal land. Our people used to be there and we had a right to do that, said Short, who likened the experience to Wounded Knee, but with added media attention.

Short said Alcatraz marked an awakening for the world in recognizing Native American rights and an awakening for Native Americans themselves.

“Things changed for us. I myself had to walk away from alcohol and drugs. The things we didn’t have then, we have today. Many of the people did sober up and became active,” said a reflective Short.

As a result of the occupation, plans to sell Alcatraz were scrapped.
In 1975 Congress passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.

Short is marking the anniversary at the proposed Glen Cove Park site in Vallejo, where an occupation to prevent development on sacred burial grounds is entering its third month.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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