Alcatraz: after being a prison

When the Alcatraz prison closed, the place was managed as excess government property. During this period of time, several interesting proposals for its future use were discussed.

One of these featured a commercial theme park, in order to celebrate the space travel, as the very wealthy man from Texas, Lamar Hunt, suggested.

Another idea was shown by a group of Native American political activists, who selected Alcatraz as the place where to make a stand. They occupied it several times: for example, the first one in 1964, when they stayed there only for 4 hours, less than a day. The second one, then, 5 years later, started on November 20, after the landing on the island of a small group of Indians, who claimed it in the name of “the Indians of All Tribes”, a landmark in intertribal cooperation.

Then, in June 1971, federal agents removed from the island the few Native American who remained and in the aftermath of the occupation, the government decided to start to bulldozing buildings into rubble piles, starting from the former officers’ residential apartments on the old parade ground.

Luckily, for the future generations, this stopped when Congress created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1972, and made Alcatraz a part of the GGNRA, administrated by the National Park Service.

The Native American Occupation was really interesting, since it was fueled by Alcatraz’s location and reputation as well as by a growing national awareness of Native American issues. Media coverage, for example, was generally positive, so the occupation gathered public support.

As time passed, however, this support began to erode, because the struggle to raise money and the effort required to keepn the occupiers supplied with food and water.

This chapter of history doesn’t have to be forgotten, since it was a very hard battle to win over a place.

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