Hundreds of Indians gathered on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on Sunday (31 May) in an effort to challenge a Federal Government plan to convert the former prison into a national park.
Hundreds of Indians gathered on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on Sunday (31 May) in an effort to challenge a Federal Government plan to convert the former prison into a national park. A small band of Indians seized the island on November 14 last year and since then, about a 100 Indians have remained on the island and said they would not leave. They want the island turned into an educational and cultural complex.
Sunday was named "Declaration Day" as the fighting between the Indians and the Government over the fate of the Island appeared heading for showdown. Words inscribed on bearskin underscored the Indians' demand to remain on the Island. The Indians claim they have a right to the Island under an old treaty which gives them the right to any unused Federal property. Alcatraz has been unused since it was closed as a prison in 1961.
The Federal Government has been putting pressure on the Indians in an effort to drive them off the island. All electricity has been cut off and the water barge used by the Indians has been removed.
To the Indians, the former prison is becoming as much a part of their identity as drums and dancing have always been. They feel if they can hold Alcatraz they can hold on to their identity.
An Indian spokesman called upon people to look at America's problems instead of the moon and Cambodia.