Alcatraz

Saturday was the 60 year anniversary of the end of the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz. It is interesting the way different media outlets look at this event, which was highly controversial at the time. The Sacramento Bee seems relieved the Indians were finally forcefully removed from Alcatraz after more than 18 months of occupation of the island. However, this piece, written from a Native American perspective, puts the occupation in a much more positive light.

The Sacramento Bee story ends with a note about how it is now a National Park, "visited by 1.4 million people annually", as if to prove that things worked out for the best. Although I like to consider myself an optimist, always willing to look on the positive side, I must say in this regard, I am not.

What everyone wanted in 1969 was change. The Federal government wanted to sell it to a developer, and thereby bring in some (probably much needed) cash. The American Indian Movement wanted to reclaim it as Native Land (which they are legally allowed to do).

Instead, nothing at all changed. The status of Alcatraz is exactly the same today as it was 150 years ago, Federal land. And I think it is sad when efforts to radically change the world instead turn into another opportunity to maintain the status quo.

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