View of San Francisco skyline from Indigenous Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island last year
Eagle Feast with the Condor TODAY – 12 noon – 5pm at Baha’i Faith Center, 170 Valencia Street, San Francisco, California 94103
ALCATRAZ ISLAND – American Indians and allies from the San Francisco Bay Area will converge on Alcatraz Island in the pre-dawn hours on Thursday morning for “The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony” that was previously called “Un-Thanksgiving Day.”
This is the 39th year in a row American Indians have journeyed from the San Francisco to Alcatraz Island on Thanksgiving Day.
Photo Credit: LaNada War Jack
In modern times, Alcatraz Island has become a symbol to American Indians. It is a symbol of both struggle and hope. The affinity American Indians has with Alcatraz Island runs deep.
For years the island was home to a federal penitentiary there. After the prison closed in 1963, American Indians began to petition the federal government to put it into “Indian land.”
From November 1969 to July 1971, a group of American Indians took over and occupied Alcatraz Island led by Mohawk, Richard Oakes; Grace Thorpe, Sac and Fox, who was the daughter of Olympic great, Jim Thorpe and Tuscarora medicine man, Mad Bear Anderson. The group was called the Alcatraz Red Power Movement and was also known as the “Indians of All Tribes.”
Throughout the occupation, numerous American Indians went to Alcatraz Island to participate in the occupation. Among them, several members of the American Indian Movement, including Dennis Banks, Russell Means, and Clyde Bellecourt, went there. Another iconic name among American Indian leaders who went there was Wilma Mankiller, who later became principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
Hundreds of American Indians will participate in the Indigenous Day Sunrise Gathering
American Indians and others will gather at Pier 33 at Bay Street in San Francisco to be ferried to Alcatraz Island. The general public is welcome to participate in the sunrise ceremony, but should exercise respect and only take photographs when allowed.
On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, the Un-Thanksgiving dinner called the Eagle Feast with the Condor will be held beginning at 12 noon until 5:00 pm at the Baha’i Faith Center, located at 170 Valencia Street San Francisco, California 94130. The annual feast is provided by AIM-WEST.
Arthur Jacobs contributed to this article from San Francisco.