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The Occupation of Alcatraz, 1969

alcatraz prison in a derelict state

©Michelle Vigne, Courtesy of the University of California, Berkeley, Bancroft Library Archives


On November 20th, 1969, Native American activists organized under the banner of United Indians of All Tribes, journeyed to Alcatraz Island and proclaimed it as Indian Land. This began a fourteen month occupation in which Native Americans lived on the island as a peaceful protest to the US government's policy of termination towards Native American tribes as well as a protest of the treatment of Native American's as a whole.

The policy of termination sought to assimilate Native Americans into American society by attempting to end the US government's recognition of tribal sovereignty in an effort to terminate Native American tribal citizenship in favor of American citizenship.

Extremely controversial, termination gave the federal government ownership of tribal lands and as a result many protested the flagrant land grab. The Occupation of Alcatraz serves as one of the most visible protests.


This site celebrates and commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz by exploring the history and agents of the Occupation as well as the larger history of the Red Power Movement within the context of Native American and American history. Explore the site to learn about the history of the event as well as a collection of educational resources dealing with Native American history and the arts.


The Occupation of Alcatraz and the Red Power Movement

The book, Wilma Mankiller a Chief and her People
A Journey to Freedom: Richard Oakes, Alcatraz, and the Red Power Movement (The Henry Roe Cloud Series on American Indians and Modernity)
Alcatraz! Alcatraz!: The Indian Occupation of 1969-1971 (California Indian Series)
Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee
As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance (Indigenous Americas)
Heart of the Rock: The Indian Invasion of Alcatraz