Wake Up and Reflect

In view of the Occupy Movement, this year’s commemoration of the Occupation of Alcatraz takes on a much deeper resonance for non-Native Americans, and it offers fresh poignancy to the annual The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, also referred to as Unthanksgiving Day. In 1969, when representatives of Indians of All Tribes took over the Rock, they were able to cite a specific treaty between the Sioux and the U.S. government, stating that ownership of all abandoned or out-of-use federal land was to revert to native peoples, but the greater aim was to bring attention to a system of greed, inequality, exploitation, and thievery. Their encampment lasted for 19 months, with near-daily radio broadcasts, a newsletter, and visits from the likes of Jane Fonda, Anthony Quinn, and Marlon Brando. Eventually, it was ended by force. For the politically keen, Unthanksgiving Day recognizes the bloom of the Red Power Movement and helps amend America’s founding stories. For those of a less strident bent, this is one of the more lovely ways to see the place we call home: In the hours before dawn, hundreds of people board ferries huddled against the fog. Alcatraz looms strange and ghostly against the inky water, dampening voices as folks hike the summit. The morning light stretches over the city, prayers and thanks are given, ceremonial dances offered, and everyone is welcomed to the new day.
Thu., Nov. 24, 2011

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