The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California on December 7, 1969 · 168
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California · 168

San Francisco, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 7, 1969
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PAGE 22 The Grim Plight of the V i THIS LANfft . I' (1 1 PLEASE DON'T ASK DECORATOR'S TO COME-TO YOUR HOME FOR A FREE ESTIMATE! By not making a hundred-and-one needless trips, we keep our costs down and our quality up. We invite you to come in at your own convenience and visit our elegant showrooms and workrooms for a free estimate. Come see why our prices for quality custom draperies and ' carpeting are the lowest in town, our service second to none. ONLY DECORATOR'S guarantee you ONE WEEK DELIVERY ... do all our own work in our own custom workrooms. v m ONLY DECORATOR'S can price quality so low because Decorator's are specialists! (no middleman -to pad the prices) CUSTOM DRAPERIES 2.99 3.99 yd. regularly priced up to $8. yd. Completely installed in 1 week, including labor & custom heavy duty rods. - , KODEL PLUSH & SHAG CARPET Compare at 15:95yd. ONLY 10.95 yd. : Completely installed over foam rubber padding. - CARPET ROLL-ENDS 140 to 60 OFF! WE SERVE THE ENTIRE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Come in now for your free estimate EASY CREDIT AVAILABLE We guarantee our finest workmanship unconditionally! flpen week days and Saturdays 8:30 to 5:38 V. 1 1 3.k-t(( BELVA COTTIER is an Oglalla Sioux, a grand- ' mother, and a veteran of , the Indian Alcatraz movement. Articulate, and digni- tied, she was slightly be- ; mused and slightly sad as she ran down the history of ; her people's island occupa- . tion. "We occupied the island and made our first claim on ; March 9, 1964," Mrs. Cottier said. "Alcatraz had been de- : clared surplus property at ; the time, or was about to be declared . surplus property. ; They had five convicts on the ' island. At the time there was :. a lot of talk in the air about how our country should hon- ; or the Panama treaty. "I talked to my husband, Allan Cottier, who was president of the Indian Council at the time; I said. we have a treaty, too, why not claim Al catraz Island just to prove this treaty that was made with our people many years ago. That was the first time -we had the idea of claiming ; the island." - The 1868 Treaty "What treaty are you speaking of?" I asked. "That was the treaty signed by the Chiefs of the Sioux nations and the U.S. government in 1868 taking away our lands, only our , chiefs refused to relinquish , all our lands; there was a ' tiny clause put in the treaty that stated whenever Federal ; land becomes surplus it ; would revert to the Indians. "We tried to get a copy of . the treaty from the govern- , ment in Washington but they ; wouldn't send us one. We I also tiled to get one from the i Indian Center at Pine Ridge, . South Dakota, but were un- successful there, too. Finally we went to the Bancroft li- i brary at the University of ; California and found a copy of the treaty. We made copies and distributed them at i the Indian Center." "That was the basis of your original invasion and occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1964?" ) "Yes. There were five ' Sioux Indians who made the original claim i they had to i. be Sioux because it was a ? Sioux treaty. They were the j only ones who had ratified ; their treaty at the 1943 Re- organization Act. The , five I ' Sioux were my husband, Al- ' lan Cottier, Martinez, Rich- ', ard Kentell, Hank Means and i High Elk. Secret Plans ' "We had a lawyer at the ; time, a man named Elliot ; Lay ton. We got him a copy of ; the, treaty and he studied it for a long time. Finally we ) deckled to claim the island. Wf didn't tell anybody about , our plans. We wanted to keep it -a complete surprise.! We By Jerry Kamstra had some people with boats who were going to take us out to the island but at the last minute they decided they couldn't do it. Finally one young man said he would take us. ' - "It was Sunday, March 9. We sent telegrams to Sacramento and Washington stating our case and then we met down by Fisherman's Wharf. We were all in costume. A lot of newsmen showed up, I don't know how they found out about it. There were so many of them that they shoved some of the Indians off the boat and we had to make two trips. "I remember we didn't have a flagpole so we cut a broom handle and made a flagpole. Then we invaded the island. First we tried to land on the west side of the island but we frightened the custodian and his dog. He waved us off so we went around to the east side of the island and landed there. The Island Claimed "The five Sioux men jumped off the boat onto the dock and made their claims; the first thing my husband did was to read the proclamation declaring that Alcatraz was claimed by all Indians. The guards didn't know what to do. It was such a surprise for them. We made the claim and then stayed on the island for four hours. We were prepared to stay on the island for 30 days but it was so easy we had it claimed in four hours. Each claimant read out his claim and his allotment number . . .": .,, ' ..-. "What's his allotment number . . .?" "That's the number they give each Indian when he's born on a reservation. Each Indian is numbered just like a prisoner, each of us is given' an identification number at birth." "What happened to the Indians when they made their claims?" "It was such a surprise to the guards that nothing happened. We were afraid for the children but nobody touched any of the Indians." , "Why did the Indian stui-j dents who invaded Alcatraz this time go so ill-prepared? They . lacked food, clothing, medicine. Why didn't they stock up on these supplies be fore they invaded the island?" The Forgotten Indian' "Actually they didn't have anything. A lot of our students are in dire straits. They've been trying to get a good education. A lot of them have no place to stay. They live with one another, helping each other out, boarding with other Indian families in the area. They're trying to go to school. They worked hard to get an ethnic study program in the colleges. "There's a whole backlash of disappointment for many of the young Indians. They're trying to do what's right to get ahead and get a good education, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs doesn't help out much. They don't help out with educational loans of any kind. They have a few funds to take care of Indians on the reservations, but once you are off the reservation for a certain length of time you lose a lot of your Indian rights." "Do they want to keep you on the reservation?" "Well, they want you to either stay on it or stay off it." "You can't go back and forth?". "They don't like you to do that, but a lot of us do it. Like I say, the urban Indian i , is the forgotten Indian; he is v in between." 'Turned More Indian' r "How many Indians live in the Bay Area, do you have any idea?" "The last Bureau of Indian Affairs count. was 2500, just in the Bay Area. There are many more down in the Los Angeles area. Many Indians have relocated in the Los Angeles area. The whole idea of relocation in the first place was to get the Indian to assimilate, but it has had just the opposite effect. We have turned more Indian in the city than we were back on the reservation." "Why is this?" "I think it has been the touch with the outside society and the disappointments we have run into, and some subtle form of discrimination." "How do you make your living? Do you get money from the Office of Economic Opportunity or from the Bureau of Indian Affairs? Do you have a job?" Bureau Policy "We all work at different kinds of jobs. When Indians are sent off the reservation on a relocation project the Bureau supposedly takes care of them for a year. That isn't always the way it works out though. . When we first leave the reservation, the Bureau gives us $G00. We're supposed to live on that until See Page 23 S. F. Sunday Examiner & Chronicle

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