ALCATRAZ ISLAND – On Thursday morning, before sunrise, hundreds of American Indians – and non-Native allies – will gather on Alcatraz Island for “The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony.”
Every year since 1975, American Indians have journeyed from the mainland to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay on Thanksgiving Day. Previously the day was called “Un-Thanksgiving Day.”
In modern times, Alcatraz Island has become a symbol to American Indians. It is a symbol of both struggle and hope. The affinity American Indians has with Alcatraz Island goes deep.
For years, the island was home to a federal penitentiary there. Called the “Rock,” the penitentiary’s most famous inmate was notorious gangster Al Capone.
After the prison closed in 1963, American Indians began to petition the federal government to put it into “Indian land.”