When over 90 Native Americans first made the voyage to Alcatraz Island on a November 1969 morning, there was little that could be predicted about what would unfold in the coming years. Alcatraz Island, the infamous prison that held criminals on the forefront of world news in the early twentieth century, would soon become an activist symbol. What followed November 20, 1969 was almost two years of continued Native American occupation of the island and a whirlwind of both media and federal attention. By the end of 1971, the remaining occupiers of Alcatraz were forcibly removed by federal marshals. However, the movement was successful in bringing Native American activism to the forefront of the consciousness of the American people, and the federal government. The impact of the almost two years of demonstrations on Alcatraz prove that failure is subjective and impact can reverberate throughout subsequent years in ways the original occupiers never thought possible or intended. This capstone project argues that though the protestors were eventually removed from the island and the occupation technically considered a failure, the occupation of Alcatraz was impactful in the continuously weaving tapestry of indigenous rights activism.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Patricia Minter, Dr. Alexander Olson, Dr. Andrew Rosa
History | Indigenous Studies | Politics and Social Change
Spalding, Sarah, "The Rock of Red Power: The 1969-1971 Occupation of Alcatraz Island" (2018). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 745.