From left: Nancy Ukai, Akemi Yamane Ina and Shoshana Arai hold signs on Nov. 20 on Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.

On Nov. 20, several Asian Americans came out in solidarity to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay by tribal members, which occurred from Nov. 20, 1969 to June 11, 1971.

Because the penitentiary on the island had been closed since 1963, a group called Indians of All Tribes argued that under the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the U.S. and the Lakota tribe, all retired, abandoned, or out-of-use federal land was to be returned to the Native Americans who once occupied it.

Ukai was present at the occupation after her mother had brought her to the protest. At that time, a group of Japanese Americans had come out in support of the tribal members and sent supplies and food to Alcatraz.

Ukai and Arai are holding up photocopies of Gidra magazine, which had published an article in the 1970s on the Asian American delegation.

The occupation of Alcatraz, which at its height had 400 participants, had a huge impact on galvanizing tribal rights activism.

Photo by Emiko Omori

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