November 22, 2009

Indians commemorate Alcatraz anniversary

Indians return to Alcatraz 40 years later

By John KingThe Park Service was not involved in organizing the morning-long ceremony to commemorate a 19-month event that remains a keystone in the turbulence of the late 1960s and early '70s. Nor was the ceremony linked to other events related to the anniversary, including an academic conference in Berkeley held last Friday and plans to project a movie about the occupation onto Coit Tower on Thanksgiving.

But where the government 40 years ago was the enemy--and in June 1971 removed the last of the occupiers--the Park Service Saturday provided free ferry rides for the participants. Once on shore, rangers loaded folding tables onto a pickup truck along with refreshments brought to the island by the organizers.

Later, while the 50 or so participating in the ceremony chanted and prayed, rangers walked back and forth behind them bringing out folding chairs.

The event was organized by Nila Northsun, whose father was one of the occupation's initial leaders, and Lorenzo Baca, an "artist-activist" from the Central Valley.
Comment:  Lorenzo Baca was an early supporter of PEACE PARTY. He was also the center of this controversy: Native Enters Off-Limits Roundhouse.

For more on the anniversary, see Alcatraz Changed Course of History? and 40th Anniversary of Alcatraz Occupation.

Below:  "Lorenzo Baca (center) leads a procession of Indians and supporters to the ceremony." (Photo: Paul Chinn/The Chronicle)

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