Thousands at Alcatraz Sunrise Gathering Mark Indigenous Resistance and Struggle at Standing Rock

November 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

Alcatraz Island out in the San Francisco Bay was the site of a takeover and occupation by the American Indian Movement (AIM) from 1969 to 1971. Every year since 1975, there has been a very UNthanksgiving “Indigenous Peoples Day Sunrise Gathering” at Alcatraz. This year’s event was to commemorate “524 years of Indigenous resistance, honoring our ancestors and future generations.”

Indigenous People's Day Sunrise Gathering at Alcatraz Island
Indigenous Peoples Annual Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering, November 24, 2016, Alcatraz island. Photo: Special to

Every year the Alcatraz Sunrise Gathering gets bigger. This year it was reported that 5,000 came, with people lining up at 2:30 in the morning to get on the first ferry at 4:30 am. Members of Native American tribes from around California and the West were well represented, but there were Indigenous people from other parts of the U.S. and the Americas as well. This gathering has always been diverse, with people and families of all colors and ethnicities, young and old, coming from nearby and far away. This year was no exception. And this year, all were in proud support of the courageous and determined struggle of the Native people in Standing Rock, North Dakota, against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

In the speeches and performances and dances there was celebration of Native people’s resistance. Among those speaking were people who had been part of the struggle at Standing Rock and others who were headed there. People spoke of how the struggle at Standing Rock has brought Native peoples together in a way they have never seen before. Some said they were leaving soon with food, warm clothing, and other supplies for the brave resisters at Standing Rock.

The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Andrea Carmen of the Yaqui Nation who spoke at the beginning of ceremony: “There are dark days ahead. I won’t say his name here.” A resounding boo went up at her reference to President-elect Donald Trump. “But we’re in a fight right now, and it’s only going to continue.”

Some of the participants in the Indigenous People's Day celebration at Alcatraz showed solidarity with the struggle to stop the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota.
Some of the participants in the Indigenous People's Day celebration at Alcatraz showed solidarity with the struggle to stop the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota. Credit: Native News Online photo by Christopher Burquez

There were speakers demanding the release of Leonard Peltier, Native American political prisoner who has been locked up for more than 40 years. In 1975, Peltier was at an AIM camp at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota that helped people at the reservation defend themselves against a campaign of terror by the U.S. government that led to the deaths of 64 AIM members and supporters. He was framed for the killing of two FBI agents who attacked the camp.

It was cold out on Alcatraz Island before sunrise, but we all knew this was nothing compared to Standing Rock, where the pigs have used water cannons and rubber bullets against the “No DAPL” resisters in 26 degree weather!

We distributed thousands of copies of the statement, “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America” to people on the island and as people arrived back at the docks. At one point, we put the “Mein Trumpf” graphic from on the ground, and lots of people stepped and stomped on it as they passed by. And many, many people took bundles of flyers of the statement and Revolution newspapers to distribute in their communities.


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