American Indian proclamation claiming rights to Alcatraz

About This Item

KPIX news report from Alcatraz on 10th November 1969, where a group of American Indians have just spent a night staking their claim to ownership of the island. They are interviewed and David Leach describes his experience of touring the derelict prison facility, declaring: “This is a monument of a sick society. It’s really sick. People have to be sick to put up something like this!” Another agrees with him, continuing: “We’re going to change it into its opposite … a monument to Indian people.” There are views of reporters and federal authorities walking around the island and then gathering to witness Richard Oakes reading a proclamation to Regional Director of the US government's General Services Administration Thomas E. Hannon: “We the Native Americans reclaim this land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery. We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land and hereby offer the following treaty. We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for $24 and glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man’s purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago.” After listening to Oakes, Hannon offers everyone a lift back to the mainland, which they accept.

Occupation of Alcatraz
Type of material
archival news film
16mm color magnetic sound film
Rights for this video belong to
Date aired
Originally aired on
KPIX Eye on the Bay News
KPIX 100633

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The first indian student, great !


It was very exciting to hear Richard Oakes read the proclamation.  Thank you for posting this!

To James, thank you for identifying that student.  Are there any others you recognize? 

the footage about half way through is from the day before, Nov 9, the traditional drum and dancing, that was Adam Nordwall's group, along with some of the students lead by Richard Oakes before they boarded the Monte Cristo and set out for the island when Richard and five other Indian students jumped from the Monte Cristo and swam to the island. The footage of the Indians being found and removed after Richard reads the proclamation is from Nov 10. Although the 'attempt' on the day of Nov 9 failed, 14 Indian students returned to the island later on the evening of the 9th and spent the night there.

The first Indian student is David Leach, son of Stella Leach.

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