The End of the Occupation and Its Lasting Impact

On January 3, 1970, the 13-year-old daughter of Annie Oakes, the wife of Richard Oakes, fell and was fatally injured. The Oakes family was devastated and decided to leave the island. Managing the occupation was left to others, but slowly the cohesiveness of the protest began to unwind.

Black and white photograph of a young Yvonne Oaks making the peace sign and smiling at the camera, sitting in the back of a truck filled with supplies. Richard Oakes unloads supplies from the truck as two AIM members/supporters appear to be speaking with him.
Black and white photograph of AIM member/supporter holding a suitcase and sleeping bag. He is photographed from the rear, walking away from the viewer. On the back of his jacket the painted words ”Alcatraz”, a smoking pipe split in two pieces, and a figure holding her arms up, are displayed.

Students left to return to their universities.

Non-Indians, some with drug issues, joined the thinning ranks of the occupiers.

Internal squabbling to replace Oakes as the leader of the occupation further factionalized the group and public support for the occupation waned.

Tiring of the occupation, the federal government cut off water and electricity to the island, worsening the living conditions for the 15 protesters on Alcatraz. On June 11, 1971, federal officials forcibly removed all of the remaining occupiers from the island ending the 19-month siege.

’Black and white photograph of a Coast Guard cutter passing in front of Alcatraz Island; a large sign saying ”Keep off Indian Property” is visible as the boat passes near it.

Black and white photograph of AIM members/supporters posing in front of a building with ”Indians Welcome Indian Land”.

As a result of the occupation the Nixon administration began reformulating federal Indian policy in support of self-determination for Indian tribes.

Members of the American Indian Movement were emboldened by their observations of the tactics used by the protestors at Alcatraz. AIM would borrow some of the tactics and rhetoric from the occupation for use in their future protests.

Black and white photograph of group of AIM members being escorted out of a building.  They descend a staircase at night. White men in suits and a policeman stand watching, holding flashlights as AIM members leave the building.

More than 50 years after the takeover of Alcatraz,
the memory of the action remains a source of
pride among Native Americans.

Black and white photograph of a large group of AIM members, men and women, are directly facing the camera. They are seated in a cell block indoors, at Alcatraz Prison with Richard Oakes in the middle of the front row. The group are dramatically lit from above (ambient/natural light). Some members are standing along the second row of cell blocks looking down from in the balcony above.