Indigenous People’s Day Special: 50 years since the Occupation of Alcatraz

0:08 – Fund Drive Special: History and Legacy of the Occupation of Alcatraz

On November 20, 1969 a group of Native Americans landed on Alcatraz Island and claimed it as their own. They stayed for 19 months. While the media reported every move and the government fought to stop them, families moved in, thousands of supporters visited or sent supplies, and drums beat far into the night. After centuries of seeing their land stolen from them, Native Americans seized the rocky island and held on to it. Alcatraz became a symbol of hope, inspiration and change for Indian people everywhere. The documentary film, Taking Alcatraz, directed by John Ferry (2015) featuring Adam Fortunate Eagle, chronicles the history of the occupation.

Pacifica Radio Archives: From The Vault: Occupy Alcatraz 

Pacifica Radio intimately documented the Occupation of Alcatraz from November 20 1969 to June 11, 1971, presenting a detailed account of the Native American struggle to bring awareness to the repeated treaty violations by the United States. Activist John Trudell became the voice of the occupation through Radio Free Alcatraz, a news broadcast from Alcatraz that was eventually broadcast daily on KPFA in Berkeley, CA, and out across the network. In this newly restored recording, John Trudell moderates a panel of Indians from various tribes to discuss the occupation. (This was Pacifica’s first-ever network-wide national broadcast.)

Pacifica Radio Archives: From The Vault: John Trudell

In this episode of From the Vault, we profile John Trudell, an acclaimed poet, recording artist, actor and activist who has been connected with Pacifica Radio since 1969. Pacifica audiences first became familiar with Trudell in his capacity as the communications director of the All Nation’s occupation of Alcatraz Island, where on December 22, 1969, he began hosting regular broadcasts of Radio Free Alcatraz, which were first heard on Pacifica station 94.1 FM in Berkeley, and then broadcast across the Pacifica Radio Network. Trudell would go on to become the Chairman of the American Indian Movement from 1973 – 1979.

History of Alcatraz Fund Drive Collection:

  • Taking Alcatraz, directed by John Ferry (2015) – $100
  • 1969 Pacifica Radio Archives Special Collection – $200
  • Both for a pledge of $250

(Photo: By the National Park Service)


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