Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
ALCATRAZ ISLAND In the early morning darkness, hundreds of indigenous people boarded a ferry from San Francisco Bay's Pier 33 for a trip to Alcatraz Island last Thursday on a clear, beautiful and crisp morning to attend the 43rd Un-Thanksgiving Day gathering, also known as the "Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony."
43rd Un-Thanksgiving Day Gathering on Alcatraz Island
Lenny Foster, Diné, was among those hundreds of indigenous people from various California tribes and tribes from various parts of Indian country, who attended the ceremony. For Foster, it was his 43rd year in a row he has been on Alcatraz Island to bring attention to the struggles of American Indian people.
Lenny Foster with Tony Gonzales
Foster Addresses the Un-Thanksgiving Day Crowd
on Alcatraz Island
Foster recalled how he hitchhiked from Fort Collins, Colorado to be part of the takeover of Alcatraz Island in December 1969. He said it took it two days to get to Alcatraz Island from Fort Collins where he was then a student at Colorado State University. He stayed on the island during his Christmas break to lend his support to those who occupied Alcatraz.
On Thursday, he chuckled as he recalled how cold it was on Alcatraz Island when he first went there in December of 1969.
“It is quite an honor to be part of this gathering after 43 years,”
said Foster on Thursday.
“The takeover of Alcatraz Island really was a defining moment for American Indians. It brought a whole new consciousness of American Indians struggles. Many people put their lives on the line. So, it is important to show solidarity today.”
Foster has been active in the fight against injustices for American Indian people his whole career. He was present during the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. Foster is the director of the Navajo Nation Corrections Project. Additionally, for the past 27 years, he has served as the spiritual advisor to imprisoned Leonard Peltier.
On Thursday, he spoke about the need for people to send messages to the White House to ask for President Obama to grant executive clemency to Leonard Peltier.
photo credit Christopher Burquez;
posted November 26, 2012 1:30 pm est