Radio free Alcatraz

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Program Title:
Radio free Alcatraz (Series record)
Series Title:
PRA Archive #: 

From November 20, 1969, to June 11, 1971, a group called Indians of All Tribes occupied Alcatraz Island off the coast of San Francisco, California. The Alcatraz takeover was done to protest federal laws that contradicted historic land treaties with the Indians and aimed to destroy American Indian cultures, including the right of tribes to self-govern. This occupation was the first of its kind and inspired Native Americans to fight for their civil rights, as well as expose their issues to the North American public. The Alcatraz occupation was forcibly ended by the U.S. government, but was successful in many ways. It publicized the American Indian civil rights movement and fueled the American Indian Movement (AIM) to occupy 74 more federal facilities, culminating in the occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux in South Dakota in 1973. Not least of all, this inspirational and highly public political demonstration initiated major changes in U.S. government laws regarding American Indian land claims and their right to tribal self-rule.

Radio Free Alcatraz was conceived to give a voice to the voiceless minority of Native Americans. On December 22, 1969, KPFA began its first live broadcast from Alcatraz, under the direction of John Trudell, a Santee Sioux from Nebraska who was relocated to the Bay Area with his wife and two children. With borrowed and donated radio equipment, the programs originated from the main cell block building on Alcatraz, and were carried live by the Pacifica Network, which consisted, at the time, of KPFA, Berkeley; KPFK, Los Angeles; and WBAI, New York weekday evenings at 7:15 p.m. PST. Each episode began with a recording of Buffy Sainte-Marie singing "Now that the Buffalo's Gone." The series of news reports on the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco was recorded and broadcast live from 22 Dec. 1969-3 Sept. 1970. The Pacifica Radio Archives currently holds 39 episodes from between December 29, 1969 and August 13, 1970.

Besides the reels in this series, episodes of Radio free Alcatraz can be found in BB5414 and BB5415.
BB5457.39-.40 are currently unavailable.

Date Recorded on: 
22 Dec. 1969-3 Sept. 1970
Date Broadcast on: 
KPFA, 22 Dec. 1969-3 Sept. 1970.
Total duration (All reels): 
40 reels (ca. 800 min.) : 7 1/2 ips, mono.
Los Angeles : Pacifica Radio Archives, 1969
Rights Summary: 
RESTRICTED. Permissions, licensing requests, Curriculum Initiative, Campus Campaign and all other inquiries should be directed to: Mark Torres, Archives Director, 800-735-0230,
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