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Finding aid to the Alcatraz Indian Occupation Records 1964-1971 (bulk 1969-1971)
SFH 11  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Materials Transferred
  • Related Materials
  • Processing Information note
  • Conservation Note
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Alcatraz Indian Occupation Records
    Date (inclusive): 1964-1971
    Date (bulk): 1969-1971
    Collection Identifier: SFH 11
    Creator: Indians of All Tribes, Inc.
    Physical Description: 4 cartons, 1 box (4.5 cubic feet)
    Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 557-4567
    Abstract: Correspondence, minutes, legal files, promotional materials, publications, petitions, and a few objects and photographs documenting the activities of Indians of All Tribes, its governing council, and individuals involved in the occupation of Alcatraz from Nov. 1969 - June 1971.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.


    The collection is open for research, with photographs available for viewing during the San Francisco History Center's Historical Photograph Collection hours: Tuesday: 1-5; Thursday: 1-5; Saturday: 10-12, 1-5.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the San Francisco Public Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Alcatraz Indian Occupation Records (SFH 11), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


    Following the evacuation of the island, the records were transferred to the custody of the Federal Records Center in San Francisco until their release to Frederic S. Baker, legal representative of the Indians of All Tribes, Inc., in October 1971. In June 1972, Baker donated the records to the Special Collections Department of the San Francisco Public Library.

    Materials Transferred

    Four color snapshots and 14 black-and-white prints have been transferred from folder 3/27 to the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection. The Alcatraz Relief Fund rubber stamp (folder 2/23) has been transferred to Realia Box 49.
    Approximately 10 folders of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary records, left behind when the prison was closed, were found in the Indian Occupation Records and were sent to the National Archives Pacific Region in San Bruno.

    Related Materials

    Researchers are directed to the San Francisco History Center's subject and biographical card files; vertical files; San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection; and to books and videocassettes in the Library's collections. A well-researched history that puts the occupation in perspective is Troy R. Johnson's The Occupation of Alcatraz Island (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996). A shorter piece by Johnson is available online at www.nps.gov/alca/historyculture/we-hold-the-rock.htm .

    Processing Information note

    Originally processed by John J. Kenny in 1973. A second stage of processing was completed in 2002 by Thomas J. Carey, who housed the collection in archival folders and boxes; described additional materials that had been excluded from the original guide; removed some duplicate materials; and returned mis-filed items to their original folders.

    Conservation Note

    Original folders were replaced with acid-free folders and returned to Hollinger boxes. Some metal staples remain. Some acidic documents have been separated with Permalife bond paper. Plastic sheet protectors were removed where found.

    Historical Note

    Alcatraz Island was occupied in November 1969 by Indians of All Tribes, a group of about one hundred Native American college students and activists from UCLA and the San Francisco Bay Area. Led by Richard Oakes, the occupation was organized to draw attention to the sociopolitical situation of Native Americans and to encourage their self-determination. After changes in leadership, the influx of non-Native persons, growing violence and drug abuse, and increasing isolation in the community, the federal government was prompted to remove the Indians from the island in June 1971.

    Scope and Contents

    Correspondence, minutes, legal files, promotional materials, publications, petitions, and a few objects and photographs documenting the activities of Indians of All Tribes, its governing council, and individuals involved in the occupation of Alcatraz from Nov. 1969 - June 1971. Inclusive dates of the collection and of files within it reflect when items were created, rather than when they were compiled. Files with no dates given are estimated to be 1969-1971.
    Petitions reflect several requests for support: some are authored by Native American tribes or other sympathetic groups for the benefit of the Alcatraz community, but most are from Indians of All Tribes. Signatures on petitions were collected from all over the United States and include: Malvina Reynolds, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Magnolia Thunderpussy, Stewart Brand, Lou Gottlieb of the Limeliters, and the religious sisters at the Helpers of the Holy Souls Convent on Haight Street. Box 5 Folder 3 includes a statement of support from Merritt College Chicano Studies department. Some Bay Area Native American Council (BANAC) material is interfiled with petitions in Box 5 Folder 1.
    The collection includes a few folders of papers of Allan Miller, who served as a council member and was a student at San Francisco State College; most of his papers pre-date the occupation and consist of student notes, files about Indian organizations, Native American studies, San Francisco's Mission District, and the San Francisco State Legal Defense Committee.


    The collection is arranged roughly by type of document according to topical headings established in 1973, which are based partially on original order and partially constructed by the archivist and then alphabetized. Records were not significantly re-ordered in 2002. Folders labeled "Support" consist of incoming correspondence from groups and organizations. Correspondence from individuals is filed under "Correspondence." Papers of Allan Miller are in Box 4 Folders 20-32. For further historical details on arrangement as it relates to provenance, please see the paper guide included with the collection in the front of Box 1.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Indians of All Tribes, Inc. -- Archives
    Alcatraz Indians of All Tribes newsletter
    Alcatraz Island (Calif.)--History--Indian Occupation, 1969-1971