The Latest: Alcatraz occupier calls events a ‘day of smiles’

The Latest: Alcatraz occupier calls events a ‘day of smiles’

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on the 50th anniversary of the Native American takeover of Alcatraz Island (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

About 150 people are now gathered at Alcatraz to mark the 50th anniversary of a takeover of the island by Native American activists.

Original occupiers, friends, family and others assembled Wednesday morning for a program that included prayer, songs and speakers. They then headed to the dock to begin restoring messages painted by occupiers on a former barracks building.

One of the original occupiers, 80-year-old Eloy Martinez, called it a “day full of smiles” that reunited old friends and reinforced the message that Native Americans are “still here” and are “still resisting.”

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is hosting three days of events to commemorate the anniversary of the 19-month occupation, in collaboration with the Indians of All Tribes and others.

The events include the opening of an exhibit called “Red Power on Alcatraz: Perspectives 50 Years Later,” which features photographs and mementos from the occupation.


11:40 a.m.

A new exhibit on Alcatraz Island, in the San Francisco Bay, highlights a monthslong occupation by Native Americans that started 50 years ago this week.

The items on display come from the personal collection of Kent Blansett. He’s an associate professor of history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who has written about Alcatraz.

The exhibit includes posters from the occupation, newsletters, photographs, film, skateboards and information on the occupation’s organizers.

It also includes political buttons that illustrate how the movement influenced the 1972 presidential race. Blansett says the candidates were trying to appeal to Native Americans who captured the attention of the federal government with the Alcatraz takeover.

The exhibit is in the New Industries Building.

It will be up for 19 months, which is how long Native Americans spent on the island before a small crowd forcibly was removed.


9:30 a.m.

Native Americans who occupied Alcatraz Island 50 years ago are gathering there for a day of events to mark the anniversary.

About a dozen original occupiers and another 20 friends and family members took a boat to Alcatraz on Wednesday morning.

The National Park Service says speakers will share experiences from the occupation and discuss its continuing relevance. They’ll also help restore messages painted by occupiers on a former barracks building at the Alcatraz Island dock.

The occupation by activists began Nov. 20, 1969, and lasted 19 months. It’s widely seen as a seminal event for tribes, reinvigorating them to stand up for their rights and identities. It also helped spur a shift in federal policy toward self-determination, allowing tribes to take over federal programs on their land.


Follow the AP’s complete coverage of the occupation of Alcatraz:

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