After the genocide and treaty making period ended in 1871, Congress mandated Native culture, languages, customs, songs, dances and ceremonies illegal (1880 -1936). Native children were taken hostage to further ensure non-resistance by subjugating them into government and Christian boarding schools. The “cycle of dysfunction” began as a direct result of physical, mental and sexual abuse of the children, which in turn impacted future generations through historic boarding school trauma.
In the post-genocidal era of 20th Century Native America, tribes were fighting the many battles of injustice and discrimination manifested and imposed by the colonial government. During the1960’s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Relocation Policy intended to “Assimilate Indians into the mainstream of American society” sent young people into six of the largest cities in America to speed the process of colonization. This attempt backfired on the government.
Natives who relocated into the San Francisco Bay Area began to work together and organize as identifiable groups in the city’s demography. Many of these Native youth decided they wanted professional degrees. San Francisco State and the University of California were magnets for Native students who joined other ethnic students to organize and implement their own “Third World Studies” and were subsequently successful. It was these students who liberated Alcatraz Island in peaceful protest of the government’s ill treatment of Native people and broken treaties.
The Occupation of Alcatraz was pivotal for taking a stand against the colonial powers reconnecting with their lost identity, culture and spirituality. President Nixon was the first and last President that took legislative steps to support Native American Tribes both in the cities and on the reservations. First he stopped the Termination Policy which gave various jurisdictions to States at their will. He also initiated 50 legislative bills and tripled the funding to reservation tribes for tribal governments, Health, Social Services, Education and many more. The island never was transferred back to the Native people but they won gains under a national political agenda that would have never happened without this protest for Native American survival.
Now here we are 50 years later and our plight to overcome poverty, suicide, poor health and education has transpired into bureaucratic interference and which continues to take more Native lands, resources resulting in broken treaties, agreements and laws such as witnessed in the Standing Rock Resistance in North Dakota The environment is at a critical state with the pollution of land, air and water. Native people continue to fight, struggle and resist all these harmful forces. This fight is not our fight but is the responsibility of all people.
It is the plight of Indians of All Tribes to bring not only the 1969 Veterans of the Alcatraz Occupation back for the 5oth Anniversary but include Native guests who know this continuing struggle well. We need media for this event and many prayers. We will keep you posted on what can be done.