For the past 40 years, American Indians of all tribes have returned to "The Rock" on Thanksgiving Day to commemorate the Occupation of Alcatraz. This year, photographer Paula Schultz was there to document it.

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay is normally a cold, unwelcoming place once reserved for infamous criminals. However, for the last four decades on Thanksgiving day, American Indians of all tribes have returned to the island for the annual Indigenous Peoples' Sunrise Gathering. The event, which commemorates the Occupation of Alcatraz from November 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971, by 89 members of the group Indians of All Tribes, is planned and organized by the International Indian Treaty Council and welcomed more than 3,500 people this year.

Speakers included Fred Short, one of the original leaders of the first Native American Spiritual Marathon in 1978; there were performances by All Nations Drum and more than 100 Aztec dancers; and the event was simulcast worldwide by KPFA. It was a extraordinary sunrise ceremony, and an honor for all who organized and attended, including this photographer. Here are some of my images.


Check out the 2016 Photo Contest in the February/March issue for more of Paula Schultz's photography.

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