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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#049--November 12, 1999; FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ted DeAdwyler
phone: 415/338-1665


SAN FRANCISCO, November 12, 1999 --- For many, the mention of Alcatraz brings visions of the old federal penitentiary set in the San Francisco Bay that is perhaps the Bay Area's best known tourist destination. But American Indians say it is a symbol of the ongoing social and political struggles of American Indians in the United States.

"The occupation of Alcatraz Island united American Indians across this country. It is a part of our collective history. It changed people and made us realize what we could do politically," says Angela Gonzalez, associate professor of American Indian Studies at S.F. State and organizer of a major conference on the campus Nov. 19 that will examine 30 years of American Indian activism. The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Seven Hills Conference Center at S.F. State, 1600 Holloway Ave.

Dozens of scholars, students and American Indian activists are expected to attend the gathering, which will be held on the eve of the 30th anniversary --- November 20, 1969 --- of the date American Indians made headlines worldwide by occupying Alcatraz Island. And it was the same year that the American Indian Studies program at SFSU, one of the first in the country, was born.

"Issues that were important to us back in 1969 are still important to us today. We continue to fight for our land and water rights, tribal sovereignty and self-determination," said Gonzalez, a member of the Hopi tribe.

In addition to looking back at the occupation of Alcatraz Island, the "Red Power: Thirty Years of American Indian Activism in the San Francisco Bay Area" symposium will focus on student leaders and the creation of American Indian Studies and the relocation and the emergence of the urban American Indian community in the Bay Area.

The symposium will feature a keynote address by LaNada Boyer, who was one of the original group of American Indians that initiated the takeover of Alcatraz Island. She is now a community activist who lives in Idaho and has recently completed her Ph.D in political science at Idaho State University.

Another noted speaker will be author Troy Johnson, associate professor of American Indian Studies and history at CSU Long Beach. A leading scholar on the occupation of Alcatraz Island, Johnson's books include "Alcatraz: Indian Land Forever," "You Are on Indian Land! Alcatraz Island, 1969-71," and "The Occupation of Alcatraz Island: Indian Self-Determination and the Rise of Indian Activism."

Other panelists include Luis Kemnitzer, professor emeritus of anthropology at SFSU who taught the first class on American Indian Studies at SFSU; activist and filmmaker Millie Ketcheshawno; Susan Lobo, coordinator of the Community History Project Archives at the Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland; Marilyn St. Germaine, executive director of Indigenous Nations, a social service agency of the Bay Area American Indian Council; Jerry Hill, Alcatraz veteran and now Special Counsel to the Oneida, Wisconsin Tribal Council.

Admission to the symposium is free. For more information, check the symposium's Web site at or call Angela Gonzales of the American Indian Studies at SFSU at (415) 338-2013.

The symposium is part of San Francisco State University's Centennial celebration. Throughout 1999, the university is celebrating 100 years of service to San Francisco, the Bay Area, and California and beyond. A highly diverse community of 27,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff, San Francisco State is one of the largest campuses in the nationally recognized 23-campus California State University system. The university houses the only College of Ethnic Studies in the country and offers a minor in American Indian Studies.


Note to editors: Angela Gonzales of the American Indian Studies Department can be reached at (415) 338-2013 or (510) 525-3317. For additional assistance, call Ted DeAdwyler of the S.F. State Public Affairs Office at (415) 338-7110.

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