The Occupation of Alcatraz
Photo Gallery 3

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by Professor Troy Johnson
California State University, Long Beach

(click on the images for a larger picture)



On the upper level of Alcatraz Island are the main cellblock, the lighthouse, and the living quarters. On the lower level is one of the apartment buildings that was used for housing during the occupation. After the government cut off electrical service to the island, The primary way to stay warm was by building campfires.
Many nights on the island were spent sitting around campfires singing and sharing stories of Indian history and culture. For many, this was their first opportunity to meet other Indian people. Money, food, and clothing were donated to the Indians on Alcatraz Island. Often the clothing included such items as business suits, ball gowns, and high-heeled shoes. Indian children played "grown-up" in expensive hand- me-downs. Here an unidentified person sorts through the boxes of donations.
Two occupiers stand on top of the main cellblock on the upper level of Alcatraz Island. The city of San Francisco is visible in the background. Alcatraz security used this level to watch for any attempted removal by federal forces.
An Indian youth pauses on the walkway above an apartment building.
Graffiti welcomes Indian occupiers to United Indian Property.



A handpainted sign marks the location of a school on Alcatraz. A preschool and a nursery were operated for those who had children on the island.
Children ride in the back of a pickup truck on Alcatraz Island. Members of the longshoremen's union volunteered their time and knowledge to repair old Justice Department vehicles left on the island. Indian children were among the residents of Alcatraz. Here an Indian youth walks near the lower level apartment building on the island.
A young Indian child on Alcatraz Island. Many decisions had to be made each day regarding life on the island. Here a group of Indian people meet in the dining area of the old prison.
Initially, food was cooked and meals were served in the prison kitchen on the upper level. Soon, however, the Indian occupiers began to feel that the spirits of former prisoners were still present in the cellblock, so the kitchen was vacated, and food preparation took place on the lower level, often in an outside area. John Trudell speaks with news media representatives regarding negotiations with the federal government for title to Alcatraz Island. Trudell, known as "the voice of Alcatraz," conducted a regular radio program called "Radio Free Alcatraz."
Indian people wait for a boat to take them to Alcatraz Island.



Indian people sit in the back of a boat leaving for Alcatraz Island. LaNada Boyer, left, talks with Joe Bill, center, and an unidentified man.
Indian children play with their bicycles in the lower level courtyard. The skeleton of a burned-out building is visible on the upper level. A fire destroyed four historic buildings in June 1970. This drawing, called "Off the Cross," demonstrates the view held by many American Indians on the island that the occupation was a liberating experience; they felt free for the first time.
This Indian occupier is wearing a jacket stating "Alcatraz Sioux." Indian women played a major role in the occupation. They served on the is land council and the security force and worked in the health clinic, the day care center, and the school. In this photograph, two women prepare a communal meal in the old prison kitchen.
The dining area is adjacent to the kitchen in the main cellblock on Alcatraz.

Indian occupiers work on the dock of Alcatraz Island. A woman is handing tools to Richard Oakes (behind the ladder), while two men hold the ladder close to the pier.

Description Indian occupiers stand on the dock of Alcatraz Island. Richard Oakes is on the right.


A sign on the Alcatraz landing welcomes arriving Indian people.
Headquarters were set up on the dock on Alcatraz Island. All persons visiting or living on Alcatraz were required to sign in when they arrived. LaNada Boyer, the longest continuing resident of the island, is standing, third from the left. An Indian woman prepares a communal meal in the kitchen on Alcatraz Island.

reprinted from The American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz Island

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