| by chartered boat to occupy Alcatraz in November
1969, which had been abandoned by the government since the
prison closed in 1963. They issued a proclamation of demands,
offering to purchase the island for $24 in glass beads and red
cloth. As the proclamation, which is reproduced for the exhibit,
states, "A precedent set by the white man's purchase of a
similar island about 300 years ago. We know that $24 in trade
goods for these sixteen acres is more than was paid when
Manhattan island was sold, but we know that land values have
risen over the years." (Read more about the occupation via PBS.)
The gathering swelled by
hundreds, including assorted hippies who moved onto the island
to support the cause. Things started to fall apart after Oakes'
12-year-old stepdaughter died in a fall on the island, and Oakes
left the protest in early 1970. Authorities then tried cutting
off water and electricity to the island. Several months later,
fires broke out destroying several historic structures adjacent
to the prison, and eventually in early 1971 the island was
cleared of the remaining 15 occupants, and the National Parks
Service eventually turned it into a park.
The new American Indian cultural
center and exhibit will become a permanent part of the tour of
the island. As one occupation alum puts it, "we did get our
cultural center after all. It just takes time."