Bay Area is the region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in North California in the United States (Curtis 10). It is mostly urbanized and well known for high cost of living.
The Bay Area is well known for its rich cultural history and heritage. Majority of the population in the Bay Area consist of mainly the Native Americans consisting of distinct tribes and ethnic communities mostly of Asian Origin. The Native American community can be said to be the native people that were living in North America long before the Europeans came in that land, with their offspring (Curtis 34).
The Native Americans come in many groups, each varying in their traditions, religious beliefs as well as the communication comes in diverse language. The Native Americans mostly reside on western states (48%), south (29%), and the mid West (6%); this distribution reveals the outcomes of the historical pattern of settlement and relocation of the American Indians to the western and southern regions of the country (Curtis 67).
Factors that led to bay area diverse Native American community
The diversity of the Native American community in the Bay Area is due to many factors which are historic, political, economic and social (Margolin 20). The history and heritage of indigenous people who inhabited the American continent forms a significant part in the American and Native American history.
The Bay Area’s Diverse Native American Community is due to the fact that the people who discovered the Bay Area were early Christian Indians presently known as the” Ohlone”, and Spanish explorers and missionaries (Margolin 24). The Indians primarily practiced hunting and gathering.
The availability of extensive land and its proximity to the ocean compelled them to begin farming as their way of life thus resulting to their permanent settlement in the Bay Area. The outcome of their agricultural endowment was that it facilitated their spread and diversification into many distinct cultural tribes (Margolin 34).
Another factor that led to the development of Bay Area’s diverse Native American community is urbanization; the urbanization of the American Indians has been taking place for a long period of time, this has led to a large number of Indians moving into the Bay Area metropolitan regions.
Early urbanization of the Native American was as a result of the US pursuing a policy of domestic colonialism, this helped to transform them from rural farming to urban industrial farming which in turn accelerated their urbanization process. Urbanization helped to diversify the Bay Area’s Native American community (Margolin 45).
The assimilation of the Native Americans in the late 18th century contributed to their diversity. Assimilation was an effort by the US government aimed at transforming the Native American way of life to the European-American culture. This transformation enhanced civilization among the Native Americans which in turn facilitated their diversity in the US particularly in the Bay Area (Margolin 45).
They were integrated into the larger American community. This involved relocating the Indians from reserved area to more urbanized regions. The Bay Area was well known as a trade destination for many, and this offered an opportunity for the Native Americans to carry out business in the area.
Another reason for diversity of native community in the Bay Area was that the Bay Areas Indians continually maintained their cultures despite the persuasion by US government for Indians to abandon their culture; they formed social and political organizations through which they could express their rights. This resulted in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Native American community as being one of the most organized American Indian communities in the United States (Margolin 57).
Objectives of activists during Alcatraz occupation in 1969
The relationship between America and Native Americans was not good during the first half of the 19th century. This was after a series of failed policies by the US government, which resulted in Native Americans organizing a movement that protected the rights of the Indian people.
In 1969, Indians publicly protested against violation of their rights through occupation of the Alcatraz Island which was a federal land by then (Troy 30). The take over of Alcatraz Island was one of the most successful American Indian protests and activist movements of the 19th century which facilitated the modern Native American activism
One of the key objectives of the Alcatraz occupation was to have the island under their ownership so that they could establish a study center for the Native Americans, an American Indian religious center and cultural center and a Museum which was to be based on Indian cultural value.
The building of the cultural centers was aimed at maintaining Indians cultural values, traditions, spirituality, and identity amidst calls by the US government to transform the Indian way of life to the predominant European-American culture (Troy 49). It also aimed at making sure that the Indians religious freedom was not impaired by the United States and ensuring that Indians cultural values remained observed.
Another objective of the occupation was to bring the Indians rights to the attention of United States government and to the public. They demanded fairness and justice towards the Indian population living in the United States because the laws by then oppressed the Native Americans, and were willing to fight for the course.
The activism was aimed at restoring of rights and civil liberties of the Native American community in the United States. It sought recognition of Indians rights and freedom. Restoring the pride of the Indians in the United States was amongst the activists’ objectives (Troy 56).
The occupation served the major purpose of turning attention of Indians towards a reversal of bad policies of the United States. It was a fight against the bad United States government policies that oppressed Indians.
Some of the bad policies that were being fought against by the activists included the termination policy which was aimed at eliminating all the rights and freedom of the American Indian tribes (Troy 68). The policy was also aimed at relocating thousands of Indian people to cities so as to make them loose touch with their Indian culture, which was very devastating to the natives.
Another objective of the occupation of Alcatraz Island was alerting the US government to honor treaty obligations; by providing education, housing, and health care and elimination of poverty (Troy 35). It was aimed at fighting for reviewing of treaties and treaty violations and they demanded that all Indians be governed by treaties that bounded them to the United States.
The activism was an effort aimed at restoration of Indians cultures, the Indian tribe sovereignty, and political treaty amongst the tribes. The organizers and activists also demanded Indians inclusion in the educational institution while retaining their Indian culture (Troy 36).
The occupation was more than just resettlement of the American Indians; it was a matter of human rights, it was more than just a political movement. The occupation was used to spotlight issues affecting the Native American community (Troy 38).
Impact of Alcatraz occupation
The occupation had an impact on the lives of Indians living in the United States, it served as the foundation for the restoration of Indian culture, identity, tradition, and spirituality (Stuart 26). Through the occupation the rights of the Indians were put into considerations. New policies were adopted that brought justice and fairness to the Indian community.
During 1970 to 1971 the US congress sitting passed 52 legislative proposals to support the policy of tribal self rule aimed at achieving Indians cultural survival as a distinct tribe and help protect the rights of Indians living in the United States. Funds for Indian health care were doubled and an office for Indian rights was established (Stuart 28). The occupation laid the foundation for the next stage in regaining the Indian sovereignty and self-determination.
Generally, underlying objective behind the Alcatraz island occupation was to awaken the American public to the suffering caused by the US government’s failure to observe treaties and promises and the need for Indian self determination. Based on this, the occupiers were successful (Curtis 78).
Though the occupation was short term, it was successful for the American Indians eventually. Indians lost the official ownership for the island later; the Alcatraz occupation helped them to independent and gave them the hope for the future and facilitated later occupations up to date. In as much as the occupation appeared a success, it came with many challenges, the inhabitants of the island experienced hardship such as lack of water and electricity (Curtis 80).
Curtis, Edward. The North American Indian: Johnson Reprint Corporation. 2006. Print
Margolin, Malcolm.The Ohlone way: Indian life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area: Book Services inc. Salt Lake City, 2003. Print
Stuart, James. Historical dictionary of the 1960s: green wood publishing group Inc. Westport, 1999. Print
Troy, Johnson. The Occtwation of Alcatraz Island: University of Illinois Press, 1996. Print