Once home to Al “Scarface” Capone and other notorious criminals, Alcatraz Island is a National Park Service site located 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco. It was one of the country’s most infamous federal prisons for a short period of its history. While the federal prison only operated from 1934 to 1963, its legend has grown with time.
But this small island off the coast of San Francisco was also occupied by the Indians of All Tribes for 19 months in the name of Native American civil rights, beginning in 1969. The group demanded reparation for the lands taken from tribes and treaties broken by the United States government. Their 19-month stay sparked the Indian Red Power Movement and led to major changes in federal policies.
During this time, President Nixon pushed to end the Indian termination policy that had severed tribal rights to land, sovereignty and federal protection. He promoted instead a new self-determination policy that included restoring lands back to American Indians and funding for reservation-based health care programs.
Travel to the island via Alcatraz Cruises, the only authorized concessionaire for ferrying passengers.
It’s a 15-minute ferry ride to Alcatraz, and visitors can stay until the last ferry. Check out the ranger programs at the dock when you disembark on the island.