Third and Final Occupation

American Indian Occuaption of Alcatraz


"It would be fitting and symbolic that ships from all around the world, entering the Golden Gate [San Francisco Bay] 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, November 1969

The Third and Final Occupation

Exactly 10 days later, Indians of All Tribes returned to Alcatraz, with 89 urban-college occupiers. This time however, they remained on the island. The media followed the developments closely, providing national exposure. The Indians garnered widespread support with donations of food and supplies. They also established an Indian school and a radio station. At the peak of the occupation 400-600 people stayed at Alcatraz.

(Source) Los Angeles Times

 Indians spraypaint messages 

(Source) National Park Service

 Indians spraypaint messages 

(Source) National Park Service​​​​​

 Indians spraypaint messages 

​​​​​​​(Source) San Francisco Chronicle

 Indians spraypaint messages 

(Source) National Park Service

 Indians spraypaint messages 

(Source) Annenberg Learner 

 Indians spraypaint messages 

(Source) New York Times

 Indians spraypaint messages 

Richard Oakes (left) holds a conference with the other leaders. (Source) San Francisco Chronicle

Radio brodcast from Alcatraz.

(Source) American Archive of Public Broadcasting (0:12)

"We hold the Rock"
~ Richard Oakes

In an effort to remove occupiers, the Nixon administration sent negotiators, recognizing that use of force would be politically unpopular.

"We'd done enough killing of Indians in the last two hundred years and we weren't about to do any more. Our policy was restraint and talk and [to] try to work out some alternatives"
~ Bradley Patterson, White House official, 1970

Richard Oakes reads proclamation to media (Source) Intelligent Channel (0:52) 

The Proclamation​​​​​​​ (Source) Ilka Hartman Photography 

The Indians were willing to negotiate, but would not settle for less than their originally stated demands. The government was unwilling to agree.

Buildings on Alcatraz burning (Source) Alcatraz History 

New York Times article on the fire (Source) New York Times

The Indians stayed and tensions mounted. The original occupants returned to college and Indians from reservations replaced the students. ​​​​​​​

The government shut off all electricity and water to Alcatraz. Two days later, a fire destroyed historic buildings, including the lighthouse, and both parties blamed each other. ​​​​​​​

On June 11, 1971, the lack of a lighthouse prompted President Nixon to order the military to remove the 15 remaining occupiers, so another could be built.

Alcatraz recaptured (Source) San Francisco Chronicle

Group of remaining occupiers that were forced to leave (Source) Ilka Hartman Photography

"Alcatraz in 1969 was not a place; it was an idea, an electrifying moment."
~ Tim Findley, reporter and Alcatraz organizer, 1994

First and Second Occupation

Immediate Impacts