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Pelicans, Bad Guys and Indians!


Signs still left from the occupation on the walls of the prison

There's a tiny island in San Francisco Bay called Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz means "pelican" in Spanish, but even pelicans wouldn't have wanted to come to Alcatraz!

Nick inside the jail on Alcatraz

The worst, meanest people in the country were sent to Alcatraz. Some had stolen lots of money, others had shot people with guns. There was a jail on Alcatraz, with guards everywhere. Bad guys were locked up for years, some of them in tiny cells with no light at all. Some tried to escape, but even if they got out of their cells, they couldn't swim to shore because the water was too cold.


After time, the prison closed down. It cost too much money to run it, and it was hard to get food and water to the island. The cells were empty, and even the guards left the houses they had on Alcatraz.

Richard Oaks was one of the Indians on Alcatraz

One day, a group of Indians landed on Alcatraz and said they wanted the land for their people. They thought the people running the government were being unfair to Indians.

What does this mural show about the Indians on Alcatraz?

All over America, Indians were being treated badly. In the cities nobody would let them work, and police thought they broke the laws. And out in the country the government was taking away all the things that made Indians special and forcing them to live like everyone else.

What point did the Indians prove?

On Alcatraz, Indians could be themselves and be proud of who they were. They wanted to set up a school for Indians, so they could learn and get better jobs. But the government said no.

Finally, the Indians left Alcatraz. But they had stood up for their beliefs and were stronger because of it!


Please email me at: nick@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - The making of a super man and the uniting of a people
Stephanie - Si! Hablo English, German, French, Portuguese, Swedish and Greek