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Indigenous Peoples Annual Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island

Last Thursday before dawn thousands of people began to convene on Alcatraz Island for the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering. Native Americans and people from all over the world gathered to give thanks to the “Creator and Mother Earth for our Survival and Spirit of Resistance” in commemoration of the 1969-71 occupation of Alcatraz by the “Indians of All Tribes.”

Under the light of the morning star the ceremony began with Pomo traditional dancers and a Maori performance honoring the traditions and culture of their peoples.

As the sun began to blanket the San Francisco Bay in welcomed warmth Native elders spoke of the ongoing struggle for equality among all peoples and honored leaders in the Native American community. Elders also encouraged young leaders to move forward, “dedicated to our Ancestors, Sacred Places and Future Generations.”

By sunrise a diverse 4,000 people had come together to participate in the ceremony, listening to the children and family members of those who occupied Alcatraz standing against the oppression of the government. As the golden sun rose through the smoke of burning cedar the moving ceremony closed with a ceremonial performance by Aztec and Pomo Dancers.