Our contributor Corinne Oestrich attended the 2018 Indigenous People Sunrise Ceremony at Alcatraz in San Fransisco.
Unthanksgiving Day (or Un-Thanksgiving Day), also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is an event held on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to honor the indigenous peoples of the Americas and promote their rights. It coincides with a similar protest, the National Day of Mourning, held in Massachusetts. Held annually since 1975, the Alcatraz ceremony commemorates the protest event of 1969, where the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement (ARPM) occupied the island. Currently the annual ceremony is organized by the International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts.
The event is designed to commemorate the survival of Native American peoples following the settlement of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere, which led to genocide and enormous economic and cultural losses among the indigenous from disease, warfare and social disruption. Organizers want it to serve in contrast to the traditional American Thanksgiving story in which the Pilgrimssupposedly shared a meal with Native Americans.
Good Morning Everyone! Today I'm here to tell you a little about the Sunrise Ceremony at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California.
Did you know that starting in 1969 the island known as Alcatraz was occupied by a group of Native students and activists for 19 months?
The occupation was led by Richard Oaks, LaNada Means and others who were passionate about reclaiming the land for Native peoples and ceremonies.
According to the Treaty of Fort Laramine in 1868, between the Us and Lakota people, all retired, abandoned or out of use federal lands was to be returned to the people who once occupied it.
The occupation was forcibly ended by the US government in 1971. The sunrise ceremony on Indigenous Peoples Day and Thanksgiving morning is a commemoration and healing ceremony for the reclamation of the day.
This morning I got to go and bring my Dad with me!
The lines for boats to the island opened up at 3:30 am. We got there at 4:30 and there were a lot of people there! 500 or so of us packed into one boat.
It was dark and cold and the air was finally clear of smoke after a week of horrible air. So I took deep breaths.
I couldn't take photos during the ceremony. So this is in between. The sun was just starting to come and we watched beautiful Ohlone dancing.
The sun started to rise and a lot of the speakers talked about the veterans of Alcatraz and even read a statement from Leonard Peltier.
That's a healing sunrise right there…we bathed our faces in the light as we were instructed by the elders to do.
It was a really good way to start this day! Gave lots of hope and joy to bring home to our families.
Thanks, Corinne for showing us more about the Indigenous People Sunrise Ceremony.
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