The American Indian Movement (AIM) received worldwide attention in November 1969, when a group of 300 Indian activists occupied Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to publicize the Indian cause. The activists demanded title to Alcatraz under provision of an 1882 act that stated that abandoned federal facilities (such as the empty prison on the island) should be utilized for Indian schools. AIM issued this statement.
The following is an excerpt from the proclamation “To the Great White Father and All His People,” written by an activist who occupied Alcatraz Island.
We, the Native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery. . . . We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars [$24] in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island [Manhattan] about 300 years ago.
We feel that this so-called Alcatraz Island is more suitable for an Indian Reservation, as determined by the white man’s own standards.
1. It is isolated from modern facilities, and without adequate means of transportation.
2. It has no fresh running water.
3. It has inadequate sanitation facilities.
4. There are no oil or mineral rights.
5. There is no industry and so unemployment is very great.
6. There are no health care facilities.
7. The soil is rocky and non-productive; and the land does not support game (animals).
8. There are no educational facilities.
9. The population has exceeded the land base.
10. The population has always been held prisoners and kept dependent upon others.